Why is the analysis of statistic sometimes considered an art?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The analysis of statistics may possibly be considered art--"the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination"--since it can sometimes involve a creative manipulation of perspective and interpretation without changing the objective, mathematical facts so that the statistics are not changed.

Certainly, the advertising world uses this facility of statistics. For example, a commercial for toothpaste claims that "Three out of four dentists recommend ______(the product)." This fractional proportional is, indeed, more convincing than the use of the ratio which would be presented by employing percentage; that is, seventy-five per cent. For, 3 out of 4 leaves only 1 dentist who does not endorse product X; however, 75% leaves 25% of dentists who do not endorse the toothpaste. Thus, because the number 25 seems so much larger than the number 1, people tend to perceive 25% as a greater number on the negative side of the endorsement.

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