Lying with Statistics

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

How claims of voter fraud were supercharged by bad science | MIT Technology Review

Unsurprisingly, conservatives ran with this new support for their old narrative and have continued to do so. The study’s fans include President Trump, who used it to justify the creation of his short-lived and failed commission on voter fraud, and whose claims about illegal voting are now a centerpiece of his campaign.
But most other academics saw the study as an example of methodological failure. Ansolabehere, whose CCES data Richman relied on, coauthored a response to Richman’s work titled “The Perils of Cherry Picking Low-Frequency Events in Large Sample Sizes.”

We often say that people live in completely different realities these days, and lying with statistics is one of the primary tools for doing this and making everyone feel like they’re completely right. I’m not immune from this either, although I hope that knowing it and keeping an eye out for it can help avoid falling prey to the most misleading “statistics” out there.