Tag: risks vs. benefits

Statistics – Using the Truth to Mislead

My daughter is an accountant.  She took a statistics class in high school, and another as a requirement for her major.  My son has taken a statistics course, and he is an English Literature major.  I was a chemistry major in college and have an an MD and have never taken a statistics course. I don’t even recall a lecture on statistics in medical school.  Mark Twain quoted Disraili as saying, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”  Reading medical journal articles reporting on the benefits and lack of benefits when reported statistically can be really challenging. Reading a report of these, or worse listening to an interested party, like a sales rep or sponsored speaker talk about a study, requires being a skeptic.  Here are some examples of how true statistics can be worse than a lie, and how what would seem to be common sense does not pay off.

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