Discuss the view that too much faith is placed in statistics

YES: Modern society places too much faith in the reliability or effectiveness of statistics, to the point that we exercise dubious decisions after consulting them.

  1. Investors often place implicit trust in statistics of economic trends derived by self-interested parties, such as investment houses and credit rating companies, which use statistics to promote their own commercial interests.

  2. Consumers may place blind faith on the statistics produced by reputable companies even though the parameters of their statistical models, including sample size and the profile of those surveyed in studies, may be too limited, leading to compromised results or predictions.

  3. Some statistical models may attempt to over-simplify highly complex human activities and interactions yet many individuals or organizations who should know better place their trust in them to avoid appearing contrary to conventional but erroneous perceptions about the issue.

NO: Modern society uses statistics selectively and with informed judgment, such that our decision-making processes are improved rather than hindered by them.

  1. Some statistics of economic trends are carefully calculated and objectively delivered by qualified parties, and our faith in them is justified when their predictions or findings are proven rightby societal developments despite the public’s initial skepticism about them.

  2. When parameters of statistical models are carefully selected and calibrated to the study, results and predictions of societal trends may be more accurate and provide valuable insight on such trends, justifying our faith in them.

  3. Some statistical models may have been precisely developed and are capable of interpreting highly complex human interactions in a simplified and effective way, providing society with a reliable means of understanding itself and our societal conditions.

Author’s Note

 This question closely resembles 2003’s question number 10 ‘Statistics measure everything but prove nothing.’ Discuss.’

 I have adapted the substantial points for that essay to the parameters of the question here.