Chapter 11 Notes
Chapter 11 Notes HNRS 2010
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Emily Clark on Friday October 23, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to HNRS 2010 at Bowling Green State University taught by Dawn Shinew in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 26 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Critical Thinking in OTHER at Bowling Green State University.
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Date Created: 10/23/15
Asking the Right Questions Chapter 11 Are the Statistics Deceptive One of the most frequent kinds of evidence that authors present is statistics We use statistics often inappropriately to reveal increases or decreases to provide input for many other issues Statistics are evidence expressed as numbers Which seems quite impressive because numbers make evidence appear to be very scientific and precise Statistics can and do often lie Any statistic requires that some events somewhere have been defined and accurately identified That is a very difficult task The first strategy for locating deceptive statistics is to try to find out as much as you can about how the statistics were obtained There are a variety of obstacles to getting accurate statistics for certain purposes Including ambiguity of key terms unwillingness to tell the truth barriers to observing etc Statistics are often in the form of educated guesses Always ask How did the author arrive at the estimate We want to be most impressed by these numbers if we know how carefully they were determined It makes a big difference whether a writer is talking about the mean median or mode Adding all the values and dividing by the total number of values Listing all the numbers from highest to lowest and finding the one in the middle Counting the frequency of different values and then finding the value that appears most frequently When you see average values always ask Does it matter whether it is the mean median or mode Consider how using the various meanings of average might change the significance of the information It is also often important to determine the gap between the smallest and largest values That gap is also called the range It is also important to determine how frequently each of the values occur Also called the distribution Keep the range and distribution in mind when encountering averages because doing so should remind you that most people or events will not match the exact average values There are two strategies for location such deception One strategy is to blind yourself to the communicator s statistics Ask yourself What statistical evidence would be helpful in proving her conclusions The second strategy is to examine the author s statistics very closely while blinding yourself to the conclusion Ask yourself What is the appropriate conclusion to be drawn from those statistics An important lesson is to pay very close attention to both the wording of the statistic and the wording of the conclusion Statistics often deceive us because they are incomplete Ask What further information do you need before you can judge the impact of the statistics When you encounter impressivesounding numbers or percentages look out When only absolute numbers are presented ask whether the percentages might help you make a better judgment What relevant information is missing Statistics help us describe and understand trends and patterns They help us to predict To make careful arguments with statistics you may have to take some time away from your argument to explain how the statistics were produced the implications and the limitations
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