November 9, 1963

Summarization of Data

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

JAMA. 1963;186(6):570-574. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.63710060021011

STUART CHASE lists, as one of his 13 logical fallacies, the category called "Figures Prove."1 He suggests that there is a tendency on the part of people to assume that if something can be expressed by a number it has some special validity. A corollary to this axiom might be "the more numbers, the better." There is, apparently, the too prevalent view that a mass of numbers is all we need in order to find out anything we wish to know. Moreover, today there seems to be a growing feeling that all one must do is feed data to a computer, and, in an even more magical fashion, truth will emerge. Not too long ago it was the statistician who was to perform this magic; we now think we can automate the process.

One purpose of this series is to demonstrate that numbers are only representative of fact and

First Page Preview View Large
First page PDF preview
First page PDF preview