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  1. #1

    Default How do professionals avoid the misuse of statistics in personality?

    The main source of competing input is "personal experience".

    I submit:

    It is not always true that statistics are more accurate than personal experience.

    The classic example used by many that statistics should trum personal experience is the "hot hand" fallacy, where most basketball players don't believe the "scientific" findings of Gilovich, Vallone, & Tversky.

    Here is some food for thought regarding this:
    http://www.hcrc.ed.ac.uk/cogsci2001/pdf-files/0152.pdf

    Granted, there is many a gambler that can "feel in his bones" that the next hand is his, etc. and I really doubt that his personal "experience" trumps statistics.

    However, it is my belief that factor analysis (clustering also, to a lesser extent) leads to similar conclusions about the "facotrs" as what historians conclude about "time periods" or geographers conclude about about "regions".

    These conclusions are hardly a match for personal experience.

    Consider this fictional conversation:

    Geographer: Ah, your from region A, so you must be a farmer.
    Native or region A: No I'm not. I'm a pharmasist.
    Geographer: Don't be foolish. You're from region A. Region A is mosly farmers.

    (This is my characeture of "personality" studies).

    Or this one:

    Hiring Manager: We are looking for good chemists to hire, here are some candidate resumes.
    Geographer: Well, I see this person is from town A, and this person is from town B. Statistically, there are more good chemists in A than B. You should hire the one from town A.

    (This is my characeture of "intelligence/job competence" studies).

    How is it professionals avoid misuse of their findings in these ways?

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
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    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  2. #2
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    I think statistics is often less acurate than personal experience simply because there are a lot of people who use statistics and don't really understand how to properly use statistics.
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