Damned Lies and Statistics Reflection

Damned Lies and Statistics by Joel Best gives the reader a whole new perspective on the idea of quantitative data. His central argument is that just because someone gives you a statistic doesn’t mean that statistic is accurate. He informs people to pay attention to the statistics that they see and hear about. People naturally assume that because they are being given a number, that number has to be true. Joel Best teaches us to be more observant of numbers and to ask questions such as who is presenting these numbers and why they are presenting them.He gives many examples for this argument. Joel Best states that bad statistics are created because of four things, “guessing, dubious definitions, questionable
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Best states that doing this presents “a risk that our understanding of the problem will be distorted”(Best,Joel.Damned Lies and Statistics.39.Print). Presenting extreme cases will only teach us to think of that case as extreme. We won’t know about the many other aspects that that social problem can contain.This is the problem with defining a social issue. There are many aspects to consider.Best uses the example of trying to define sexual violence. Most people would assume that that would be simple. However, there are many aspects of sexual violence to consider when coming up with a definition. Best presents questions that come up with creating such a definition such as “Does being groped or fondled count?” What about seeing a stranger briefly expose himself?”(Best,Joel.Damned Lies and Statistics.40.Print). This is an example of a broad definition. Broad definitions are used to eliminate “false negatives”. This statement is very valid. Broad definitions allow more room for error. There are also some things that are hard to define, like sexual

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