Wanted: good, bad and mangled statistics

  • Media
  • August 8, 2011
  • StopPress Team
Wanted: good, bad and mangled statistics

When it comes to misusing statistics, the media has been guilty of its fair share of whoppers. And the Stats Chat blog wants to hear some of your best examples for a new weekly competition. 

Run by the Department of Statistics at The University of Auckland, the blog is seeking nominations for noteworthy statistics as quoted in the New Zealand media, not unlike Sciblogs' recent roundup of the best and worst science stories for the year.

“We’re looking for bad, exemplary or fascinating examples of statistics,” says blog coordinator Rachel Cunliffe.

Professor Thomas Lumley, a regular contributor to the blog, which was launched earlier this year to scrutinise facts and figures used in the media, wants New Zealanders to be more aware of statistics and the role they play in the media.

“We see numbers in the media every day and we want people to think carefully about them, " he says. "What they actually mean and whether or not they make sense."

All competition entrants need to do is quote the statistic, when and where it was published, and why it should be the statistic of the week. And as thanks for helping to promote better mathematical understanding, the person who posts the winning entry will receive a $20 iTunes voucher.

As well as encouraging discussion about statistics, the blog provides an archive of resources for use by anyone with an interest in statistics, whether members of the public, journalists or teachers.

“We’re aiming to offer insight and boost statistical literacy by providing a space for thoughtful analysis and comment on the statistics making headlines,” says head of department Professor Chris Triggs.

Recent posts by staff members have examined how the wording of poll questions may have influenced surveys on equal pay for men and women, scrutinised beliefs about student drinking and looked at how the risk of accidental injury can be interpreted in different ways.

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

Hell launches ‘unruly tourist’ pizza

  • Advertising
  • January 21, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Hell launches ‘unruly tourist’ pizza

As the unruly tourists saga continues, Hell Pizza decided to join the conversation with a billboard 'launching' a limited edition pizza.

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