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Douglas_Knight comments on Your intuitions are not magic - Less Wrong

65 Post author: Kaj_Sotala 10 June 2010 12:11AM

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Comment author: Douglas_Knight 10 June 2010 10:40:08PM *  3 points [-]

People who know a little bit of statistics - enough to use statistical techniques, not enough to understand why or how they work - often end up horribly misusing them.

How often do people harm themselves with statistics, rather than further their goals through deception? Scientists data-mining get publications; financiers get commissions; reporters get readers.

ETA: the people who are fooled are harming themselves with statistics. But I think the people want to understand for themselves generally only use statistics that they understand.

Comment author: SilasBarta 10 June 2010 10:44:02PM 4 points [-]

True, but many of those scientists and reporters really do want to unravel the actual truth, even if it means less material wealth or social status. These people would enjoy being corrected.

Comment author: Dre 11 June 2010 01:25:21AM 1 point [-]

There is also an opportunity cost to the poor use of statistics instead of proper use. This may be only externalities (the person doing the test may actually benefit more from deception), but overall the world would be better if all statistics were used correctly.