It is impossible to reason well about science or society without using data and statistics. However, it is also very possible, and quite common, to misuse statistical thinking and make claims that seem plausible but are not truly supported by the evidence. From misleading newspaper articles to peer-reviewed research that doesn’t replicate, statistical malfeasance is everywhere. We look at some of the more common mistakes and how to spot them.

David Metzler specializes in stimulating lectures on math topics. He holds a BA in mathematics from Rice University and a PhD in mathematics from MIT. He has taught at Rice University and the University of Florida and currently teaches at Albuquerque Academy.