December 14, 2011

"Need to prove something you already believe?"

"All you need are two graphs and a leading question."

(Thanks to my colleague John Ohnesorge for this very funny link.)

17 comments:

The Crack Emcee said...

This wouldn't be a problem if you'd stop believing things.

For some reason, that never seems to be an option.

Weird.

ndspinelli said...

Does the Pillsbury Dough Boy have an influence on Republican primary?

shiloh said...

Lies, damned lies and statistics.

edutcher said...

There's an old essay from the late 40s, "How to Lie with Statistics."

I guess every 5 years or so, somebody brushes it off.

james conrad said...

TESTING, lol, I cant post any Althouse posts on FB anymore, when i click the share FB thingy, it goes to an error page. Trying this to see if it helps.

Ann Althouse said...

"TESTING, lol, I cant post any Althouse posts on FB anymore, when i click the share FB thingy, it goes to an error page. Trying this to see if it helps."

Try it now.

I tried to remove those buttons but they wouldn't go away. I've reactivated them.

james conrad said...

Nope, did not help, anyone else having trouble sharing with FB?

Ann Althouse said...

I hope people click on the link!

It's very funny.

james conrad said...

OKKKK, it's fixed. All better now

Tibore said...

"Ann Althouse said...
I hope people click on the link!

It's very funny."


Oh yeah, it's been circulating for a couple of days now, especially on science as well as skeptics boards. I love it; it gets the point across.

-----

Thing is though, you don't even need a damn graph to "prove anything". Just look at how pseudoscientists, pseudohistorians, and so on operate. If they've got an alternate narrative to peddle, they'll make an argument out of whatever they can, and damn the concept of honesty. For example, idiot 9/11 Truthers: Even now, they make a claim that the government allowed 9/11 to happen by using a leading question plus a single out of context fact:
Did you know Flight 77 was allowed to fly for 44 minutes before it hit the Pentagon?

"Allowed to"... that's the leading part of the question. "44 minutes": There's your "fact". Missing context? That much of that time was spent looking along the original flightpath for what they first thought was a crashed jetliner. And that it only became apparent to the FAA 10 minutes before impact that it was hijacked. And only became known to the military 4 minutes before.

You'll see the same thing out of antivaccine enthusiasts.

Ultimately, you don't even need a graph to pull this technique off. All you need is some solid looking numerical fact and that leading question. Works for woo peddlers, pseudoscientists, and conspiracy theorists time and time again.

Levi Starks said...

The one comparing the MTN range to the the NYC murder rate is the best.
It's the parody on the cake.

traditionalguy said...

The Ron Paul influence is everywhere now days. Big Lies will continue work until someone speaks the truth.

bagoh20 said...

The most common one is economic indicators and who is President at the time. The job just isn't that powerful or important.

Besides if a President could fix an economy, we would have permanent prosperity.

PatCA said...

Oh, that's hilarious! I hope teachers start using it in statistics classes.

Ann Althouse said...

I especially like the mountain range.

JAL said...

Haha.

It should be a Khan Academy course!

From Inwood said...

edutcher

How to lie... is from Harper's August 1950.

Also in book form. (Norton 1993)

I have a copy of both. In either form, one of the greatest things I ever read.

Everyone should read it.

PS I have a graph showing that those who read the article/book are 50% smarter than those who haven't!