Summary of 3 Ways to Spot a Bad Statistic

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Mounting accusations of fake news have created an atmosphere of skepticism toward institutions and the media. People’s faith in statistics, especially government data, has taken a hit. This is a “total disaster,” per data journalist Mona Chalabi. She explains why it’s crucial to accept statistics, but only after testing their validity. getAbstract appreciates her timely and useful advice on how to distinguish the good numbers from the bad.

About the Speaker

Mona Chalabi advocates for publicizing data to encourage debate. She is the data editor of the Guardian US.



Today, some 40% of Americans, and about 70% of Trump supporters, distrust government economic statistics. When people are wary of official statistics, the common ground on which to begin a debate crumbles. This growing skepticism has spawned a movement to eliminate government statistic gathering altogether, which would be calamitous. After all, how can policy makers craft legislation to combat discrimination, create fair health care programs or discuss immigration without reliable data? To combat “alternative facts,” society must learn how to differentiate between good and bad statistics. Data journalists urge people to ask three questions when analyzing...

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