Averages and relationships and trends and graphs are not always what they seem. There may be more in them than meets the eye, and there may be a good deal less.
—Darrel Huff in How to Lie With Statistics
“Blind them with science”, I heard someone once say. It’s an approach used to hide details or results, or when the answer to a question is unknown (but no one wants to admit it). The methods and semantics of statistics are confusing enough without having to worry about those that want to deceive, or don’t know better themselves—an honest person must therefore learn them in self-defense (to paraphrase Huff).
Lies and Stats is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the quote “lies, damned lies, and statistics”. The quote expresses the view that you can prove anything with statistics, even if it’s not true. There’s no denying that stats can be used by both sides of an argument and still be valid. But numbers can rarely answer subjective questions without a measure of values, interests, goals, etc. The numbers are there to help, not to give absolutes.
This blog exists for the following reasons:
- forced learning (I do background research on everything I write about)
- writing commentary about what others are talking about
- a log of useful or interesting pieces of info I find about statistics
- provide both an outlet for ideas and a foundation for community (long-term)
I only have one rule for the blog—no equations. Although it’s interesting that you can insert LaTeX code into a blog post, I don’t see much value in doing so. I want the focus to be on understanding statistical methods of analysis and interpretation, not math for the sake of math. Of course, that doesn’t mean my blog will be devoid of numbers or mathematical reasoning, but no equations as a general rule.
My mother used me as a guinea pig to try out learning games from her studies in early childhood education. Many of those games were intended to develop analytical skills—teaching creativity and math was all the rage. The result, perhaps, is a preference towards math? Funny that she never tried these games on my younger siblings.
I’m a number cruncher specializing in data analysis. I apply my knowledge of mathematics and statistics to the collection, processing, and analysis of data. I can’t stop learning, and am always seeking new opportunities.
Standard practice dictates that I absolve my employer of any responsibility for what I write on this blog. The views and opinions I express are, of course, my own.
Luk Arbuckle (see my profile on LinkedIn)