Thursday, February 07, 2008

Micro Statistics Tutorial 03: Asking the right question

"Cheer up! Have you no aim in life?"
She tenderly inquired.
"An aim? Well, no, I haven't, wife;
The fact is -- I have fired." (GJ)

Dave discussed the elements of good statistics in Tutorial 01:
  1. A decent, honest, well described set of data
  2. Proper definition of terms, specified in advance
  3. A clear, well framed and unambiguous question (or problem), specified in advance
  4. A plan for examining those data, specified in advance
  5. Honest intent
The wrong questions may get asked in the search for the right answers. Sometimes this is deliberate. Quotations are useful. This is a good one:
"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers."
(Pynchon T, 1995 Gravity's Rainbow. ISBN 140188592)
Here are some others:
It isn't that they can't see the solution.
It is that they can't see the problem.
G.K. Chesterton
First things first, but not necessarily in that order.
Doctor Who
It is a poor scientist who refuses to explain what question they are answering.
Example: 1463 days to nothing - The MHRA and the GlaxoSmithKline Criminal Self Investigation

See here for Collated Micro-Statistics Tutorials

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is closer to 1700 "days to nothing" by now and you are correct that it is not even known what the something is. Crimes - no doubt.