“Are there benefits to gaining a strong statistical background?”

Friday, September 30th, 2011

The joy of being a psychology student is that we get to learn the wonder world of unnecessary use of Greek letters enabling us to prove we are right with the use of numbers! Stats are everywhere and they blend in most of the time into everyday life. Your able to get 60% longer bigger lashes like Penelope Cruz and according to ASDA they are the cheapest supermarket for the past hundred and odd years. You can also live until your 150 if you drink Yakult. We love stats; it’s not hard to find one between our favourite TV programs. With the use of stats and research we believe we are given a greater knowledge about a specific product especially when a percentage ‘real’ woman agrees. However I’m sure the less than 100 women would use a variety of products to create the amazing look. The true facts are hidden behind numbers creating a false importance of the study and products allowing it to sound more successful.
http://www.ons.gov.uk:80/ons/rel/lms/labour-market-statistics/september-2011/index.html
According to Mr. Cameron he has been able to slash unemployment figures by 7.9% from last year. Well done? Not really the office of national statistics has covered numbers with numbers. The REAL employment rate is actually 70% which shows numbers can be twisted to show what they want to be displayed to be shown to be facts as we see stats as the be all and end all. This is applies to science as we do not like being proven to be wrong.
With the use of strong statistics we are able to acknowledge the importance of the results within basically everything even science. However, stats are not always shown in a representative way but having a strong statistical background enables us to give a trusted backing to support or criticize an argument.

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6 comments on ““Are there benefits to gaining a strong statistical background?”

  1. samanthawardle says:

    I pretty much agree with everything you’ve said, mainly because i have been commenting on blogs for the past hour or so and have lost the will to argue anything. Anyway, yes i agree that the true facts are hidden behind the numbers, and if the people watching these adverts had a good statistical knowledge they would know to question these numbers and find those true facts, and most probably would not buy the product that made ‘70% of women’s eyelashes 10x longer’ because in actual fact on 20 women were asked. Therefore having a ‘strong statistical background’ is very beneficial in day to day likfe and would definitely make sure we saved our money.

  2. psyalo says:

    Yeah I agree with everything you’ve said too. I mean surely Yakult haven’t been around long enough to have conducted a study into the age of an average drinker, and even then there would be major confounding variables. That statistic is bound to be false, and yet people are still taken in by the advertisement. We as consumers have the right to know every detail of the statistic if they are going to advertise it, and yet companies like to hide this information..I wonder why.. It’s up to each individual, it seems, to find out whether the statistics have been tampered with.

  3. lmr92 says:

    The strongest argument that came across to me in this post, is that statistics are often misrepresented in the media and every day life. As much as I agree with this sentiment, and the points made about statistics being used to sell products, I think a stronger argument was needed about why having a strong statistical background is useful to us. Only the third paragraph actually adressed the question in the title.
    Having said this, I think the end point, which highlights how having a statistical background prepares us for picking out misrepresented statistics, is a valid one. I definately agree with it because in the process of completing research projects and using statistics myself, i have learnt how easily they can be twisted round to represent what the researcher wants them to, rather than what the results actually show (by the way, i’m not saying i did this in my research project!). So i’m definately more aware that statistics used to support advertisements and sell products are not always representative of the actual data.

  4. lrowlands1 says:

    Hey
    This was a great blog, outlining much of the issues with misinterpretation of data that I have discussed in my own. Statistics can be misleading and often sneaky. However, I do think that they are also very important if used in the correct way. Researcher biases make this difficult, but the implications of research with a strong statistical background are massive. Think of politics, medicine and education. The NHS and the government loves using statistics to tell the public of the difference they are making. High five to them. The point I’m trying to make is, even though they are often misleading, statistics can make such a differences to everyone without them even knowing. Think of all the research that’s happened in order to find the best learning methods for children and the best drugs for those suffering from various illnesses. These are what counts. If the media were to stop using statistics as a way to fool people the world would be a much better place!!

    x

  5. psuc31 says:

    The arguments you have made are interesting to read and I agree with what you have written. The examples of stats that you have included are relevant to the real world but made your argument stronger

  6. dnf24 says:

    I found this blog very entertaining and liked the use of random examples used but I did feel that more of the blog entry could have been used to explain what the benefits of statistics are and how we benefit from them in day to day experiences.

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