How to approach statistics with Tim Harford

We might not know a lot but we know knowledge is empowering, we can’t just believe everything we’re told, we need evidence, proof, sources. The importance of questioning your perceptions shouldn’t be undermined as it brings you closer to self realisation. Making you more conscious of your behaviour and circumstance. In this episode of Sarah O’ Connor’s podcast Tim Harford delivers his reaffirming post card sized citizens guide to statistics.

Harford’s main point is “we are constantly processing the information around us with emotions that justify what we always believe to be true about the world. The latest research in phycology suggests that this kind of reasoning is called motivated reasoning and, it’s very powerful at colouring the way we interpret statistics and other factual claims”.

Harford breaks down how vague claims like, “inequality is rising” can be misleading and that we really have to understand what the claim is about. Is it inequality in the UK, or globablly, race or gender, pre or post tax inequality? He also talks about causal claims and wonders how many claims that her reads are causal or not.

I remember staring at the fiery walls of Plato’s cave myself once upon a time, not questioning things deeply enough. With Political leaders on Twitter and Trump retweeting false statistics, now more than ever does my curiosity have an appetite for cross referencing information that I am researching as well as questioning my belief systems and understanding the kinds of conditioning I’ve been subject to. It’s true that history has been revised and corrected, in school I was told that Chistopher Colombus was his name and he was the first to travel to the America’s. We now know this to be false as Cristóbal Colón was his real name which he would have referred to himself by. In th west they would want your to believe there version of history Cristobal Colón was his real name which he would have referred to himself by. In the west they would want your to believe there version of history