Statistics in Popular Literature

• Instructions

Statistics in Popular Literature
Statistical information is commonly used in popular literature and news items to make claims about almost anything of importance in the public sphere. Attempting to use empirical evidence to support claim is essential to disseminating knowledge, but often times the information that the public consumes contains misrepresented or incompletely represented data.
Find online three pieces of popular literature from a “major” news source containing some statistics. Popular literature could include such items as any news based item on a current event or an article discussing the implications of a new study for our knowledge on some topic. Sources could include network news, any of the major international news outlets, major news magazines, reputed blogs, etc. You have a fair bit of leeway with selecting your three sources, but if you are unclear or want to verify the appropriateness of a source, feel free to ask me.
For each article, do the following:
• Provide the link to the article and state the article title
• Summarize the thesis of article
• List the statistics used in the article
• Briefly discuss how the statistics were used to support the thesis of the article
o Discuss any counter or contradictory evidence the article presented as well
• Briefly critique the use of the statistics in the article. To do so, consider such questions as:
o How does the title of the article reflect the statistical information provided?
o How much evidence (how many studies, etc) was identified as supporting the thesis of the article?
o Did the generalizable statements the article made about the conclusions directly reflect what you thought the statistics implied?
o Were alternative explanations considered?

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