Every day, on Twitter and Facebook and comment threads all across the Internet, thousands, if not millions of statistics are being cruelly mistreated. These helpless statistics are ripped away from their proper context and used to support or attack viewpoints they may have nothing to do with. Others are dropped into the middle of a hostile argument and then heartlessly neglected by their caretakers.
"What can I do? I am just an extremely limited sample size of one man or woman." you may be saying. Well, have no fear. By working together we can have a significant (p < 0.01) impact on the plight of even the most abused statistics.
Many cases of abuse are caused by simple ignorance. Someone will see an exotic new statistic on TV or in the newspaper and he will bring it home and start putting it to work in his own arguments without knowing how to correctly interpret it. A misinterpreted statistic can then be made to perform all manner of vile deeds, even turning against its own underlying fact. These abusers can often be stopped by calmly offering to educate the offender about proper statistical care. (NOTE: If you encounter a professional statistics abuser, such as a politician or journalist, do not attempt to intercede on your own. Contact an SPCS professional.)
Remember: these statistics cannot speak for themselves. It is up to us to give them a voice. Don't let the next abused statistic you see become just another statistic.
Originally published 2012-07-02 21:42:23