Critically Assessing Statistics
Why does Best argue that we should be cautious about statistics we encounter? Misquoted, repeated wrong
Used for specific agendas – manipulated to get the desired reaction We need statistics – they’re necessary to understand complex society We need them to understand social problems
BUT we need to be cautions
What should we do to be better consumers of statistics? What questions should we be asking? Remember that statistics are presented from a particular point of view – be aware of it Who collected this data? What was their goal/plan? Who is presenting the data? How are the statistics being presented?
Government, Non-profit, News, Politician?
He argues that statistics are tools for particular purposes
Thinking critically about them requires understanding their context and origin We should recognize that statistics are “inherently limited” We have to remember that they are reducing something complex into a simple form Complexity will necessarily be lost in the process of transforming it into numbers Statistics are a product of choices – what to study, how to study it, how to measure it Statistics are always compromises
How produced these numbers? What are their differences? What types of conclusions are being made? Fieldwork
Observe social practices as they are being experienced
Intensive interviews, Outside Viewer, Participant
Describes and rationalizes the beliefs and behaviors of people in a particular social setting Adds distance to familiar things and adds layers of complexity Adds familiarity and understanding to distant practices
Start with questions rather than hypotheses
Start with research question
Why are women involved in pornography?
How do they reconcile feminist beliefs with their work in porn? What makes their work “feminist”?
How do they add meaning?
How does feminism translate into the set?
What makes it a feminist production?...
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