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What questions should you ask when you hear a claim based on data? | David Spiegelhalter and Anthony Masters

The source, the number, and the claim need to be trustworthy

With cases, deaths, reproduction numbers, opinion polls and more, we get bombarded with statistics every day. But how can you spot a naughty number, a shabby statistic or dubious data? Lists of questions have been given by Tim Harford, Dave and Tom Chivers, and in The Art of Statistics (which David wrote), with considerable overlap as they grapple with the same essentials. Here is the short list that we use ourselves.

The first question: how trustworthy is the source of the story? Are they honest, competent and reliable or are they trying to manipulate my emotions, say by provoking anxiety or reassurance? Are they giving the whole picture or selecting bits to suit themselves? Like the review that found insects had declined, but it turned out had only searched for studies that showed a decline.

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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