Abstract Details
Activity Number:

168

Type:

Topic Contributed

Date/Time:

Monday, August 5, 2013 : 10:30 AM to 12:20 PM

Sponsor:

Section on Statistical Education

Abstract  #308326 
Title:

The Relevance of Rhetoric to Statistical Literacy

Author(s):

Joel Best*+

Companies:


Keywords:

rhetoric ;
statistical literacy ;
numeracy

Abstract:

Calls for greater statistical literacy often emphasize the need to improve mathematical skills; nonmathematical matters tend to be dismissed as "bias" (a convenient term, because it has both a technical meaning as any extraneous factor that affects an outcome, and a popular meaning as some sort of deliberate distortion). In practice, thinking critically about bias is a far more important aspect of statistical literacy than correcting shortcomings in mathematical understanding. Statistical literacy needs to incorporate an understanding of rhetoric (the study of persuasion). Statistics are enlisted to support particular arguments, and the people making those arguments are often convinced that their figuresas well as their conclusionsare sound. Critical statistical literacy requires thinking about rhetoric, about the way statistical evidence is used. Dubious statistics often involve rhetoric that links numbers to flawed reasoning. One effective way to incorporate rhetoric into teaching statistical literacy is to demonstrate that parallel patterns of erroneous reasoning may be found in advocates advancing opposing views.

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