Statistical Bullshit is everywhere. We have all experienced it.
You’re drifting in and out of a work meeting, while the presenter is droning on and on. They finally get to the big PowerPoint slide – the one with the numbers that “support their claim.” You study the figures and look for hidden issues, but the presenter skips to the next slide before you can even ingest their main points…let alone the things that they were trying to hide.
Or, you’re reading an article about a new research study. Some tables and figures are included, but you are left with the feeling that certain key information is missing. How can you know whether their findings are really true? Or even somewhat true?
Maybe it’s election season. Without fail, both candidates will claim that they have the popular support, and they both claim that statistics show that their policies are the best. Of course, you know that both of them cannot be correct, but it is difficult to know who is right (and who is lying!).
Even yet, you might have heard someone say, “studies have shown.” It could be a family member, possibly a friend…or even your doctor. Were those studies legitimate? Did they really support their findings?
Each of these instances could be Statistical Bullshit. That is, when statistics are manipulated, doctored, or sometimes even ignored to provide a desirable result.
The purpose of this website is to educate about Statistical Bullshit, with the goal of reducing Bullshit practices in society. No longer should people be able to make numerical claims without sufficient justification, and this website can help achieve this goal. It may not be able to change all of society, but it may certainly help you – the reader. So, I hope that after reading this website, you can sit in that work meeting and confidently shout BULLSHIT when that presenter passes through those misleading numbers.
StatisticalBullshit.com is owned and operated by Dr. Matt C. Howard. Dr. Howard is currently an assistant professor of Marketing and Quantitative Methods in the Mitchell College of Business at the University of South Alabama. His personal academic website can be found at MattCHoward.com.