FACTOID # 10: The total number of state executions in 2005 was 60: 19 in Texas and 41 elsewhere. The racial split was 19 Black and 41 White.
 
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Encyclopedia > Statistical special pleading

Statistical special pleading is a logical fallacy which occurs when the interpretation of the relevant statistic is "massaged" by looking for ways to reclassify or requantify data from one portion of results, but not applying the same scrutiny to other categories. A logical fallacy is an error in logical argument which is independent of the truth of the premises. ...


Examples:

  • Studies have shown that 5% of patients with disease X die within a year. We have shown that when patients are treated with supermed, only 3% of those aged 60 or younger die within a year. Therefore supermed is an effective treatment.
  • A study of teenage gang members has shown that 40% of those who are atheists have been convicted of a violent offence. This is hundreds of times the number of people in the general population who are convicted of such offences. This clearly shows that atheism leads to violence.
  • A study of prisons has shown that 98% of prisoners eat bread; therefore, "bread users" are more likely to develop criminal behavior.

See also faulty generalization for other fallacies involving generalization. A faulty generalization, also known as an inductive fallacy, is any of several errors of inductive inference: Hasty generalization is the fallacy of examining just one or very few examples or studying a single case, and generalizing that to be representative of the whole class of objects or phenomena. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
Classics in the History of Psychology -- Fisher (1925) Chapter 1 (4826 words)
Statistics may be regarded as (i.) the study of populations, (ii.) as the study of variation, (iii.) as the study of methods of the reduction of data.
This particular dependence of social studies upon statistical methods has led to the painful misapprehension that statistics is to be regarded as a branch of economics, whereas in truth economists have much to learn from their scientific contemporaries, not only in general scientific method, but in particular in statistical practice.
Consequently a special importance belongs to a smaller group of statistics, the error distributions of which tend to the normal distribution, as the sample is increased, with the least possible variance.
Special Report No.9 (17607 words)
Statistical data put forth by the Government describing decreases in violations are meaningless or at best of seasonal significance, in the absence of matching institutional change.
One man was pleading on his knees while a soldier held him by the hair and beat him with a thick piece of wood.
A privileged few had early notice to leave with their possessions (our Special Report No. 6) The international networks had to be primed to articulate this message and represent the enormous sufferings of the dispossessed as being due to the Government alone, and promote the LTTE as their saviour.
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