Can we all become statistical myth-busters?

Making stats meaningful to media and the public; experts show how at the Cambridge Science Festival in Boston.

In my years at Sense about Science, I have come to think, almost without realizing it, that there are two types of myth-busting minds.

There are those with an eye for dodgy scientific claims; they hone in on promises that don’t add up and can spot common tricks used to pull the wool over our eyes. These people ask sceptical questions: “Is that plausible? That sounds too good to be true!”

Then there are those who dive straight into the statistics, asking questions of error bars, confidence intervals and significance. (Yes, they often have PhDs.) They are the ones who take a news story about the latest miracle cure or health hazard and say, “Hang on a minute! The confidence interval is this – so that means the range of the true answer lies in as much as this or as little as that!” Suddenly the headline grabbing story is not quite so headline-worthy.

Read the rest of Julia’s article on Elsevier Connect: Can we all become statistical myth-busters? (20 April 2017)

Published: 25 April 2017