»Me, myself and BI«

Bissantz ponders


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Pseudo-precision

368,472 of 818,271 deaths in Germany back in 2004 were caused by cardiovascular disease. At least that is what the German Federal Statistics Office says. Due to the notorious inaccuracy of death statistics, most critics only believe the first digit.

We tend to trust statistics that contain multiple digits. We forget, however, that data ascertainments are not and cannot be precise due to systematic errors (i.e. the low percentage of autopsies) as well as random mistakes in entering, reading and transferring data*.

Eliminate pseudo-precision in your reporting.

Table_pseudo_precision

Take a moment to think what conclusions you want to draw from your numbers.

Table_without_pseudo_precision

* Read the German book “How to lie with statistics” for other sickening, pseudo-precise examples with numbers. (Krämer, W., So lügt man mit Statistik, 3. Aufl., München 2002, S. 16 ff.)

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