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Lies, damned lies, and statistics

A talk by John Feminella

About the Talk

November 27, 2012 1:00 PM

Inova Solutions, Charlottesville, VA

Inova Solutions, Charlottesville, VA

"Mark you this, Bassanio, The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. An evil soul producing holy witness Is like a villain with a smiling cheek, A goodly apple rotten at the heart: O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!" -- Antonio, speaking in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

These days, even things that seem like facts may not be telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Because our intuitive understanding of statistics is often wrong, loaded statistics can be hard to spot, and so they're a favorite rhetorical tactic for politicians and others.

In this talk, we'll examine several of the most common tricks people use to lie with statistics. We'll also explain how you can dissect statistical statements to get to the bottom of things. By the end of the talk you'll be armed to deal with and respond to the worst kinds of statistical shenanigans (or more nefariously, to mislead your own future audiences).

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