Social Question

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Where can I find some (at best) unreliable statistics?

Asked by DrasticDreamer (23974points) June 1st, 2010

I’m writing a sociology essay in which I need to find statistics that are probably wrong. Whether or not they just don’t seem believable, or someone doesn’t list a reference, etc.

It’s up to me to prove they’re false, by either contacting the person who made the claim directly, or by finding some kind of opposing statistic – which is much more reliable.

So, can anyone point me in the direction of some really crappy statistics? Thanks! :D

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35 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

I would say that you are guaranteed to find skewed statistics when and wherever the study was sponsored by the manufacturer. Try Viagra, or Haldol, or Pepsi or something.

syz's avatar

Anything on Fox News or by Glenn Beck. No, seriously. Take a look at any of their numbers and they should be pretty easy to prove the bias.

WestRiverrat's avatar

C-Span some of the most skewed statistics can be found when there is a heated debate on the floor of the house or the senate. Usually on either side of the issue.

janbb's avatar

NRA website on gun safety issues and/or crime?

Or how about looking at some of the arguments in Arizona prior to implementation of their new immigration policy?

Perhaps some of the studies done on the benefits of hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women done in the 70s and 80s?

shilolo's avatar

The medical literature has lots of examples. This article has citations that you can research that document many such errors. This one too describes common errors in medicine and science these days (making too many comparisons). If you want specific examples from the scientific literature, I can give you hundreds of references (poor statistics in science is my pet peeve) via PM.

Jeruba's avatar

I can’t point you to a site, but I have to throw this in. When my company was considering switching from MeetingMaker to Outlook Express for scheduling, they took a poll of employees. Presently they announced: “We’re switching to Outlook because 47% of employees favored it!”

WestRiverrat's avatar

Find some of the old fact sheets the tobacco industry put out in the 50–60s

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@all Thanks, guys! :) I don’t know why it was so hard for me to think of anything specific, but it’s Finals and I tend to majorly stress around this time.

Val123's avatar

Snopes might be good place to check….
@DrasticDreamer Didn’t you just have finals a while back???

Val123's avatar

@Jeruba Oh, that’s funny!

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Val123 Yes, I haven’t taken a break since I started school. So, I’ve been going Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter; Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… :-/

Val123's avatar

Bless your heart! How close to graduation are you? Did you know that 100% of college graduates graduated from college? (Couldn’t resist that!)

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Val123 Quite a while, still. I’m most likely going to get my Master’s. I will definitely take a break somewhere from now ‘til then, though! :)

Val123's avatar

Good! I don’t want to see you here posting, “What are some of the signs of a nervous break down??”

6rant6's avatar

I’d LOVE for someone to look at Artur C Brook’s book, ”“Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism.”” and all the statistics therein.

If you’re looking for one to doubt, start with, “Conservatives also donate more time and give more blood. ” Who, I ask you, KNOWS that a blood donor is liberal or conservative? Is this self-reported nonsense or is it totally made up? One or the other!

We know that persuasion often works best with the “Big Lie.” That providing numbers with decimal points makes them seem more credible. That it’s a standard political practice to repeat and repeat and repeat a statistic no matter how false to make it seem credible.

Here’s a link: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/03/conservatives_more_liberal_giv.html

filmfann's avatar

Check out Tea Party sites. Bound to be laughers there.

Val123's avatar

Probably the worst about inflating stats are the med companies and their TV commercials.

ItsAHabit's avatar

The Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) is devoted to reporting deceptive and misleading statistics. http://stats.org/ You can also find distorted statistics exposed at http://getmad.com A description of how statistics are manipulated, along with numerous examples, can be found at http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/Controversies/1070552005.html

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@ItsAHabit Ooooooh! Thanks! :D

Response moderated
mass_pike4's avatar

I here that 80% of statistics are made up on the spot

gailcalled's avatar

Check out the PR that Johns-Manville did to promote the efficacy and safety of asbestos insulation.

janedelila's avatar

Well the “you eat eight spiders in your sleep in your lifetime” was purposely made up by a sociologist (I think) as an experiment…she made up other stuff too just to see what happened. Maybe you can google that and see where it goes.

Nullo's avatar

Any pseudomedical product that doesn’t have FDA approval (Airborne™ comes to mind) is going to have poor claims.

hug_of_war's avatar

Most soy research is done by the big soy overlord with all those commercials. Don’t have a link but should be pretty easy to find

gailcalled's avatar

And check out the Montsanto site where the company explains why it treats its chickens humanely and kindly.

Val123's avatar

@gailcalled…Before chopping their heads off?

Dr_C's avatar

Fox new website, Sean Hanity, The RNC and any tea party websites.

Response moderated
stratman37's avatar

67% of all statistics are made up!

filmfann's avatar

The other 45% are reliable.

Also, any environmental or political group with an agenda will fudge numbers.
There was quite a scandal last year when scientists supporting global warming got caught suppressing data that didn’t agree with their findings.

6rant6's avatar

@stratman37 The interesting thing about those made up statistics is that just over half of them are within a standard deviation of the actual value and only about 14% fall more than two standard deviations from the real values. It must be true. I mean it’s on the internet.

zenele's avatar

45% of my comments are Removed by Fluther moderators.

Dr_C's avatar

“Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything. 14% of people know that.”
Homer J Simpson

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