Friday, March 31, 2006

The Power of Statistics.

Yesterday I wrote a big blog on polling and a bit on the statistics and techniques.

A comment left on Philippine Commentary with respect to polling was how unscientific it was. Of course, I take the contrary position; the science underlying statistics is well understood and sound, the abuse of statistics and polls is rampant. A well constructed and conducted poll can give amazing insight into a population or a whole host of problems. A shoddily or misconstructed poll or set of statistics is an attempt to prove something that isn't true.

For example during WWII statisticians analyzed the serial numbers on German tanks and using statistical methods took a stab at the actual number of tanks produced in a given month. Of course, the spooks had their own guesses. Who had the better figures? Hehehehe. The statisticians.

For example in June of 1940 statisticians estimated 169 tanks were produced by the Germans, the spooks 1,000. German records after the war put the number at 122. The other data reported on is the same, the spooks are wildly off, the statisticians close. From the University of Melbourne Statistical Consulting Centre.