Misuse of Statistics
June 32, 2011
In an ad for moisturizing lotion, the claim “it’s the #1 dermatologist recommended brand” was made. This is clearly misrepresentation because no supporting facts are provided. When I read that something is ranked number one, the first thing I think of how this was originally decided. What exactly makes this lotion the top recommended brand and what other brands were tested by dermatologists? Exactly how many products were included in the deciding factor and what was the basis for comparison? It could be anything from greasiness to longevity. Every consumer is different and may have different reasons for choosing a certain brand. For this particular claim, we don’t even know if the dermatologists were licensed to practice. It is a vague and bold statement designed to address the basic needs of the consumer and it uses a bit of deception to sell a product. For this particular example there is a bold and direct statement saying that the results of some unknown research has revealed the top brand. The problem with this ad is that no one knows what brands were selected, how they were selected, or the size of the sample. This is a claim that uses detached statistics.
Give Up Your Coffee
In an article in USA Weekend, this statement was made: “More serious seems to be coffee’s potential to raise blood pressure levels of homocysteine, a protein that promotes artery clogging. A recent Norwegian study found 20% higher homocysteine in heavy coffee drinkers (more than 9 cups a day) than in non-coffee drinkers.” Based on this statement, should we give up our daily cup of coffee? My first reaction to this statement is to wonder how many people were tested or surveyed. Suppose that only 20 coffee drinkers were studied. What are the odds of many of them being heavy coffee drinkers as opposed to light? The...
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