Tag Archives: Statistics

Statistical abuse

Many publications are guilty of this and I’m not trying to have a go at New Europe specifically here. But seriously:

Fillon dropped half a percentage point…

This is an utterly meaningless statement. Half a percent is well within the margin of error and is simply not worth mentioning.

If Journalists want to treat elections as horse races, they could at least spend a bit of time gaining some statistical literacy.

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Bill O’Reilly’s statistical illiteracy

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned Fox News before, and it’s certainly not a channel I feel any need to pay any attention to. But this is incredible:

Here’s the pull quote, from Bill O’Reilly, starting at 2:40.

The way they do the statistics in the Netherlands is different, plus its a much smaller country, it’s a much smaller base to do the stats on.

So my question is this: Is Bill O’Reilly really as statistically illiterate as he appears, or is he just assuming that his entire audience is made up of morons?

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Leadership: You’re doing it wrong

When I clicked on a BBC article entitled How to succeed in business by doing nothing I was (somewhat optimistically) hoping for an endorsement of masterful inactivity. That’s not what the article is about, however, but what writer Michael Blastland has to say is a lot more interesting.

Essentially, the article is about the myth of the dynamic leader and the way in which this blinds people to the fact that some random variation is always present in any system. The conclusion that he draws is that, in responding to every immediate event rather than looking for the trend, people can take a temporary blip and turn it into a disaster.

The paragraph that leapt out at me, though, is this one:

It’s for this reason that the fashion for corporate dashboards displaying up-to-the-minute information about company performance makes me wonder – will bosses everywhere be staring at the numbers, twitching with every down, feeling the pulse race with every up, on the phone demanding action with every flicker on the dial?

I have seen cases of leadership teams requesting huge amounts of low level data (even the ability to drill down to individual transactions in one case). And, when I look at the flood of operational data being hosed into management reports, it is painfully obvious that any useful information is being lost in the noise of the raw data.

Just because data is available, it doesn’t follow that it is useful. And when you show me a leader demanding every bit of data he can lay his hands on, I will show you a leader who doesn’t know what he’s doing.

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