Understanding statistics

There are many ways to understand statistics.

You could read some claptrap in the Herald about National party supporting, christian, meat eating, coke drinking, smoking, PC using rooters with tattoos.

Or you read what a statistician thinks about their rubbish article.

Leaving aside the gaping logical chasm in identifying website members as representative of all ‘cheaters’, what the data actually say is that more members support National, not that more National supporters are members.   As you may recall,we determined not so long ago that more New Zealanders of all descriptions support National than any other party, so that’s what you would expect for members of the website.   The proportion of National supporters in the election was 47%, among website members it’s 33%, so National supporters are substantially less likely to be members of the website than supporters of other parties. The proportion identifying as Christian among website members is very similar to the proportion in the 2006 census.   79% of website users are on PC (vs Mac).  Again that’s a lower proportion of PCs than in the population of NZ computers (the Herald said 10% were Macs in July 2010, and for Aus+NZ combined, IDC now says 15%) but one explanation is that Macs have more of the home market than the business market.  More members drinking Coke vs Pepsi is also not surprising — I couldn’t find population figures, but Coke dominates the NZ cola market.

The story doesn’t say, but we can also be pretty confident that the website members are more likely to be Pakeha than Maori, more likely to be accountants than statisticians, and more likely to have a pet cat than a pet camel.

For the record, I am a National party supporter, have a tattoo, am known to smoke cigars, eat meat, drink Coke, and am Christian. My only saving grace is that I don’t have a PC.

One thing the statistics prove to me though is that Labour supporters must be dud roots, they don;t even feature ion the statistics.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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