Statistics Done Wrong: How scientists abuse statistics

Statistical results are everywhere in science. When the Higgs boson discovery was announced, nearly every news article mentioned how there was just a one in 1.74 million chance that the results were a statistical fluke. Well, that’s not entirely true: some said one in 5 million, others one in 2 million, others one in a million.

All of them were wrong.

The science journalists had fallen into one of the most common statistical traps in modern science. Read through recently-published scientific papers and you will find many other errors, from the subtle to the glaring. Scientists often aren’t formally taught statistics, so data analysis tends to be a seat-of-the-pants affair.

There are many kinds of error and many examples in the literature, so I decided to put together a guide. No prior statistical knowledge required. I hope you’ll read it through, print a copy, and use it to smack people who continue to make statistically unjustified claims.

Link: Statistics Done Wrong, a guide


  1. Nicely done, Cap’n. I don’t have much of a statistics background (just the one course required for my major at college), but I am reminded of the Mark Twain quote as I finished your paper – “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *