Monday 11th February 2019
Broadcast Journalism 2 – Facts, Stats and Lies
Extrapolation – using the data on the facts from the past and trying to predict behavior in the future.
Don’t just publish raw data. Tell a story!
Florence Nightingale, 1857 – Rose Diagram of Causes of Death in the Army
• Health improvements raised life expectancy in the UK by 20 years saving millions of lives.
Improved hygiene: change in weather conditions? Changes in warfare?
“There are three kinds of falsehoods: lies, damned lies and statistics.” – Mark Twain
• Datapoint: one piece of data.
This apple costs 20p
• Dataset: a whole array of data
Cost of all the fruit and veg in the supermarket
• Variable: one dimension of the dataset.
Cost of apples in the supermarket
(Pokemon Go – GPS data)
• Raw data: unprocessed, detailed, has not been manipulated or analysed.
• Aggregated data: grouped or combined from several measurements.
Average – Mean – Median – Mode
• Average (Arithmetic) Mean: add all and divide by number of entries
• Median: the middle number or, if even number the sum of the two middle divided by 2
• Mode: most frequent or common value
30, 56, 65, 70, 84, 90, 90, 91, 92
All of them are accurate but depending on the persons intentions they would decide which one to use.
“All statistics are a summary of a more complicated truth.” – Tim Harford
Accurate sources, good sources, ask a good amount of people and representative of the people.
“The best financial advice for most people would fit on an index card.” – Harold Pollack, professor at the University of Chicago 2013
1 – Observe your feelings
2 – Understand the claim
• What does it mean?
• Is this a causal relationship?
• What’s being left out?
3 – Get the backstory
4 – Put things in perspective
• Is that a big number?
• What is the historical trend?
• Beward ‘statistical significance’
5 – Embrace imprecision
6 – Be curious
• Go another click
• Treat surprises as a mystery
FT’s Tim Harford Citizens Guide to Statistics
(Homework – Listen to the FT discussion between Sarah O’Connor and Tim Harford, write a 300 word story that includes the following:
Summarise the main points made about how we approach statistical claims – be careful to attribute properly.
Discuss any particular reservations, points of agreement or comments you have on the points that Harford makes.
Consider your own approach to statistical claims and give an example where you were not realizing you might have been mislead.
Describe how new information on understanding statistical claims has changed the way you approached a CURRENT news story – news this week or the coming week.)