Statistics in the Public Sphere

Abstract
Statistics in public life .........................................................................................................5 Things and numbers................................................................................................................8 Representative samples.......................................................................................................8 Averages: meaning and relevance .....................................................................................9 Correlations........................................................................................................................10 Applied statistics ....................................................................................................................13 Relative risks ......................................................................................................................14 Relative risk versus absolute risk.....................................................................................16 Problems of classification and confounding factors....................................................17 Epidemiological research......................................................................................................19 Publication bias..................................................................................................................20 Statistical significance versus scientific relevance................................................................24 Relative risk again..............................................................................................................24 P-values...............................................................................................................................25 Confidence intervals .........................................................................................................26 Correlation is not causation .............................................................................................26 An infamous episode ........................................................................................................27 Terror, utopianism and power .............................................................................................29 Faith and science ...............................................................................................................29 Fear and power: the precautionary principle.................................................................30 Utopian salvation...............................................................................................................32....
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