Friday, 1st February 2008
Hard, objective, accurate, definitive, precise numbers are beguilingly appealing. Yet in reality numbers are often subjective, vague, provisional and need to be qualified - they can even be downright misleading. So a few key danger zones are highlighted here and some elementary precautions suggested. They may seem 'self-evident'. However, a vast number of examples could be quoted to show that simple errors often trip up even sophisticated research.
Another potential statistical elephant trap is combining data from sources that do not compile it on the same basis. Failing to do so can have a dramatic impact.
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