Data and Biases

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da Data interpretation is a component of modern life for most people. Interpretation is the mechanism for translating all the numerical data that we are bombarded with every minute of every day. Consumers interpret data when they turn on the television, scan headlines on an iPhone or tablet, view advertisements alleging that one product is superior to another or they make purchases based on advertising as to the price and/or efficacy of a product. A prevailing method of analyzing numerical data is known as statistical analysis and the activity associated with assessing and explaining data in order to make predictions is referred to as inferential statistics. Knowledgeable consumers understand the value of discerning the veracity of data interpretations, forecasts and recommendations by recognizing sources of bias such as sampling procedures, or misleading questions, margins of error, confidence intervals, and incomplete interpretations. The ramifications of flawed or erroneously interpreted data can be far- reaching. For example, every 10 years a major census is completed in the United States. The findings are employed to calculate the number of congressional seats that are assigned to each district; where new highways will be built; where new libraries and schools are required, where new day care centers, hospitals and nursing homes will be situated; where new parks and recreational centers will be located, and the allocation of manpower resources for fire and police departments. In the past three decades, there have been several major changes in the United States demographic. The population is aging, growing from immigration, and migrating westward and southward. The outcome has been a major shift in congressional representation. A seventeen percent drop in the Northeast coupled with a…...

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