Statistical literacy: an important part of information literacy

The mass media often misuse statistics when they report about such subjects as health, science, education, and the economy. Media outlets seem to be more concerned with pushing agendas than accurate reporting. Even if there is no agenda, emotionally vivid language in headlines and teasers create and maintain interest in the story. I’m not writing media criticism, though. This post is as much about research and any of my others.  Not many Americans know much about statistics. And journalists have no more training in statistics than most of the rest of us. Badly understood and misused statistics also influence public … Continue reading

Information literacy and the art of detecting crap

Information literacy is the ability to tell good information from bad information, or crap. According to Sturgeon’s Law 90% of everything is crap. (Well, I just looked it up. Sturgeon actually said “crud,” but it’s usually quoted as “crap.”) On the Internet, no editor or gatekeeper has filtered out the 90%, so it is not only publicly visible, but there is so much more of it than ever before. I’m sure anyone reading this has received more than one forwarded email warning of certain doom from (choose one) a new computer virus / a defective product / poisoned food / … Continue reading