Separate lies from statistics

By Andrew Gelman via andrewgelman.com   Article

7 ways to separate errors from statistics

“Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers have been inspired by the recent Reinhardt and Rogoff debacle to list “six ways to separate lies from statistics” in economics research:

1. “Focus on how robust a finding is, meaning that different ways of looking at the evidence point to the same conclusion.”

2. Don’t confuse statistical with practical significance.

3. “Be wary of scholars using high-powered statistical techniques as a bludgeon to silence critics who are not specialists.”

4. “Don’t fall into the trap of thinking about an empirical finding as ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ At best, data provide an imperfect guide.”

5. “Don’t mistake correlation for causation.”

6. “Always ask ‘so what?’” …

My addition to the list …

7. Make your data and analysis public.

This is the best approach, because now you can have lots of strangers checking your work for free!”

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