Thursday 4 March 2010

Look at Data Like a Statistician, Minus the Ph. D

Here is smart advice, and worth looking back at when you're vexed by a hidden message beneath all the numbers and lines you see in any data set.

Two of his suggestions:

See the Big Picture
... It's important not to get too caught up with individual data points or a tiny section in a really big dataset. We saw this in the recent recovery graph. Like some pointed out, if we took a step back and looked at a larger time frame, the Obama/Bush contrast doesn't look so shocking.
Ask Why
... This is the most important thing I've learned: always ask why. When you see a blip in a graph, you should wonder why it's there. If you find some correlation, you should think about whether or not it makes any sense. If it does make sense, then cool, but if not, dig deeper. Numbers are great, but you have to remember that when humans are involved, errors are always a possibility.


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