Monday, October 29, 2007

Lying with (Advertising) Statistics

The smart folks over at Graphpaper conducted a study on the subway this Monday morning. They examined 50 people’s faces to see if they looked happy or sad. 15 looked happy, and 35 looked sad.

Can they say, then, that 30% of the commuters in the study were happy? Sure. But only if you trust their judgement in reading people’s faces. The numbers are a smokescreen — the real insight, the real magic, is occurring in their personal examinations of people’s faces.

Graphpaper's opinion is the linchpin of the whole “study”. If that one part of the process is unreliable — and you have no way of trusting that it isn’t — then the final numbers are also worthless.

Awesome lunchtime read: Lying With Statistics.

That's Right,


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