With an ever-growing politically correct and conscious society, having a strong statistical background has become an essential part of everyday life. We are bombarded with a ridiculous number of statistics wherever we look; “8 in 10 women would recommend it to their friends,” “over 93% of customers can make a saving on their car insurance up to £367” but what does this actually mean in relation to the consumer population? Without a statistical background, it is increasingly difficult to interrupt these results and make sense of them. Often with these surveys, only a handful of people are selected to represent the population.
Take for example Gillette’s current advertising campaign, claiming 3 in 4 men agree that there new razor gives a closer shave than their previous model.* Yet it can clearly be seen in the advert attached that only 236 men have been sampled. Yet the UK male population is over 28 million**. Obviously not all of the male population would apply to Gillette’s consumer market, yet even if we round down the male population to 20 million, using a knowledge of statistics we can derive that this sample represents 0.001% of the UK male population. Let’s be honest, a percentage that small can be considered virtually an anomaly. Yet general consumers can often misinterpret simple statistics like this and the product sells due to a misconception of figures.
I’m willing to admit, statistics such as p-values and hypothesis tests may not be used in everyday life, but they provide a vital service to companies and consumers alike. The stock market relies heavily of statistical trends and frequencies, and without this strong understanding of statistics, the countries economy would be in more turmoil than it already is. The government calculates figures on issues such as the emergency services, the prison system, the military, and unemployment, all by use of statistics. It provides an understanding to the entire world and its stability that could not be achieved without the understanding of statistics. It’s for these reasons, and far to many others to mention, that having a strong statistical background is essential to individuals and communities alike.