Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stat-Spotting: A Field Guide to Identifying Dubious Data

I heard an interview on Bob Edwards Weekend NPR show this morning with Joel Best. Best has written a book called
"Stat-Spotting: A Field Guide to Identifying Dubious Data." They talked a lot about how data and numbers are used for generating awareness for social causes. They spend a good chunk of time talking about how numbers have been and are used for poverty awareness in particular. It is worth a listen. I think this might be a good read for activists who would like to be aware of when they might not be hearing accurate figures or those who want to learn how to most effectively use data to get their point across. I picked up a few tips just in this interview which can be downloaded as a free podcast at
Here is their description of the interview...

"More than 97-percent of newspaper articles, TV shows, blogs and radio programs can't get through a topic without quoting a few statistics, and if you believe that tidbit, then you really need to listen to Bob's interview with JOEL BEST. He's a professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware and has created a guide for seeing through faulty statistics, with his book Stat-Spotting: A Field Guide to Identifying Dubious Data."

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