Statistics to Mislead Statistics Can Be Misleading. Essay

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Statistics to Mislead

Statistics can be misleading. People can use misleading statistics to persuade others to buy a product or share their point-of-view. Britain's Sunday Times, for example, alerted readers more than a decade ago to this tactic, showing that insurance companies often use misleading figures to scare consumers into buying expensive coverage they may never need (Cooper, 2001). In Mathematics in Our World, Bluman (2011) provides numerous examples of the ways statistics are presented to lead the reader to a false conclusion. This paper answers two of the questions in Bluman's textbook about misleading statistics.

No mathematical calculations were required in answering these questions. One need only to give some thought to the information presented. Statistics, when read quickly and without consideration, may appear to tell a certain story, often one that is meant to alarm the reader and/or incite action. Closer examination, however, can reveal a completely different story.

The math problems are as follows:

4. In many ads for weight loss products, under the product claims and in small print, the following statement is made: "These results are not typical." What does this say about the product being advertised? (Bluman, 2011, p. 810)

To sell its weight loss product, a company needs to show that it can yield dramatic results. People who buy these products are often frustrated and desperate because other methods of weight loss have failed. The company will show a result from the top of the range to entice buyers. An average or mean would be a lower number, which may not attract as much attention in advertising. The advertising shows what is possible, not what someone can necessarily hope to achieve.

When results are not typical, it may also mean that the individual augmented the weight loss program in some way. For example, celebrities who endorse weight loss plans that deliver home meals may have also hired personal trainers and outfitted a home gym with expensive equipment, neither of which is within reach of the average dieter.

People may pay for weight loss products but fail to use them or use them incorrectly. This is why, as with gym memberships, payment in advance is required rather than "pay as you go." Many people start a weight loss plan with enthusiasm but do not follow through. That is typical behavior and not the behavior model that sells products.

Weight loss ads tell the reader (or viewer) nothing about the population that used the product. We do not know how many people used the product, the duration of use, age range of users, or anything about the users' health histories. For example, forty-nine people could have used the product, each losing only a few pounds. The fiftieth person could be the one to lose a significant amount of weight, perhaps by augmenting the diet product. We just do not have enough information to make an intelligent decision about the efficacy of the product.

22. For a specific year, there were 6067 male fatalities in the workplace and 521 female deaths. A government official made this statement: "Over 90% of the fatal injuries the past year were men, although men accounted for only 54% of the nation's employment." Can we conclude that women are more careful on the job? (Bluman, 2011, p. 812).

One cannot conclude from this data that women are…

Sources Used in Document:

References

Adams, M. (2006). Lying with statistics: How conventional medicine confuses the public with Absolute risk vs. relative risk. Natural News. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/019368.html

Bluman, A.G. (2011). Mathematics in our world (1st ed. Ashford University Custom). United

States: McGraw-Hill.

Bogner, E. (2011). 11 ways to lie with statistics. Business Insider July 28, 2011. Retrieved

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