Misleading Statistics

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Cornelia Fuller
Survey of Mathematical Methods
Liar Liar
Tonya Meisner
September 16th, 2012

This week’s assignment is about the use of misleading statistics. Companies and individuals use statistics in a variety of way in order to provide information on certain things. The use of misleading statistics, while not ethical, could be viewed as valuable, if it increases profit margins or awareness of the stated topic of the statistic in a biased way.

Question number 8 provides a statistic that Vitamin E is an antioxidant that may help fight heart disease and cancer. (Bluman, 2011) The phrase “may help” does not include any specific sample groups. It is not known in whom the vitamin will fight heart disease and or cancer in. the reader could imply that vitamin E would fight both cancer and heart disease without any concrete supporting evidence.

The graph in question number 2 is considered misleading for representing sales of pumpkins in 2000 by using a much larger picture of a pumpkin than they did in 1990. It is using a 2D image, instead of a one dimensional bar. This could be misleading as we could look at the overall area of the pumpkin, instead of just the height, and see an extremely large increase in sale, and not the actual increase. (Bluman, 2011)

I chose question 8 because of its prevalent use today. I have seen hundreds of TV and magazine advertisement that use the same exact phrase “may help”. With this study I have become more circumspect of those advertisements and would home that in the future I will not be as easily influenced by “may help”.

Question 12 caught my attention also, as it is used primarily in print for implying small increases in the topic at hand. I tend to read fast and have many times, implied a large change due to the misleading graph. The two dimensional use of graphing is targeted at people such as myself. I usually glance at a graph, not taking time to look at the values for “x” and “y”. I am unsure of how many...
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