On statistics

Just a couple of minutes of fun here. This is a series of ads from Brazil to encourage the locals to get more involved in rugby. If nothing else it’s wonderfully self deprecating and very nicely done, but there is an underlying point. Their delightfully dodgy use of very simple statistics, does make the point however to be careful of how such things are used and how trends are analysed. More importantly it’s a warning to how real analyses can be both deliberately or accidentally misrepresented to give false impressions of what is really happening. An event becoming 1000 times more likely sounds significant, but if it’s a shift from 1 in 10 billion to 1 in 10 million, there’s probably still not much cause for alarm. Both the numbers and the trend are important.

1 Response to “On statistics”

  1. 1 Mark Robinson 10/10/2011 at 7:36 am

    Heh. And they illustrate the worst-case by only starting with two data points before extrapolating. In the same way that you need more than two notes for a chord or two vegetables for a salad or two murders to be a serial killer, you need more than two points on a graph to even begin to establish what the curve might look like.

    Armed with a spreadsheet and a ruler, I’m off to make my fortune on the stock market…

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