Trusting Statistics

Wolfers and Stevenson with a checklist for evaluating statistics. Here is the most important one, to me:

If the author can’t explain what they’re doing in terms you can understand, then you shouldn’t be convinced.

It’s the biggest problem I have with what I do for a living. I often don’t understand what I’m measuring, be it weather phenomena or auto accidents. They systems that produce Hurricanes and car crashes are too complex for anyone to understand.

Yet we fit statistical parameters to them and cross our fingers.

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