Lying with statistics VI: A link to a compilation of mathematical mistakes


Paul Cox has a collection called The Glossary of Mathematical Mistakes. Make sure you click the glossary link in the upper left corner of the page. His entries point out common errors — intentional and unintentional — made by reporters, advocacy groups, politicians, and people just trying to make a point. It’s a good read, and covers such topics as

* graph scaling (a very powerful tool for “proving points”)
* “law of averages” thinking — falsely basing predictions of independent occurrences of events on past outcomes (such as poker hands — sports commentators tend to be guilty of this one)
* an explanation of overinflated “body counts” you see in the press after a major disaster

Meanwhile, Presentation Zen has a “long list of links to logical errors”:http://presentationzen.blogs.com/presentationzen/2006/05/the_non_sequitu.html as well as an analysis of a recent exchange between a US Citizen and Donald Rumsfeld. (via “Pharmagossip”:http://pharmagossip.blogspot.com).

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