Statistics during the steroid era

So, You're a Beginner? Mean
   Let's get started... Median
   How to find out how the "average Joe" is doing Mode
   So, like, who's popular? Percent
   Ch-ch-ch-changes... The Next Step: Not Getting Duped Per capita and Rates
   When an increase is really a decrease and other ways people can use numbers to trick you Standard Deviation and Normal Distribution
   A quick look at the King of Stats Survey Sample Sizes and Margin of Error
   How not to get suckered by polls and other research Regression Analysis
   It's all about relationships... Data Analysis
   How to tell if these numbers are really worth writing about anyway Frequently Asked Questions Statistical Tests
   "How do I pick the correct statistical test for me?" Finding Data on the Internet
   "So where can I find the inflation rate, crime statistics, and other data?" Moving On Student's T
   Is your sample relevant to the larger population it is supposed to represent? Use the t-test to find out. Buy Robert's Book
   If these lessons helped you, why not help their author? ;^)

Walter J. "John" Williams was born in 1949. He received an . in Economics, cum laude, from Dartmouth College in 1971, and was awarded a . from Dartmouth's Amos Tuck School of Business Administration in 1972, where he was named an Edward Tuck Scholar. During his career as a consulting economist, John has worked with individuals as well as Fortune 500 companies.

Although I am known formally as Walter J. Williams, my friends call me “John.” For 30 years, I have been a private consulting economist and, out of necessity, had to become a specialist in government economic reporting.

One of my early clients was a large manufacturer of commercial airplanes, who had developed an econometric model for predicting revenue passenger miles. The level of revenue passenger miles was their primary sales forecasting tool, and the model was heavily dependent on the GNP (now GDP) as reported by the Department of Commerce.  Suddenly, their model stopped working, and they asked me if I could fix it. I realized the GNP numbers were faulty, corrected them for my client (official reporting was similarly revised a couple of years later) and the model worked again, at least for a while, until GNP methodological changes eventually made the underlying data worthless.

That began a lengthy process of exploring the history and nature of economic reporting and in interviewing key people involved in the process from the early days of government reporting through the present. For a number of years I conducted surveys among business economists as to the quality of government statistics (the vast majority thought it was pretty bad), and my results led to front page stories in 1989 in the New York Times and Investors Daily (now Investors Business Daily) , considerable coverage in the broadcast media and a joint meeting with representatives of all the government's statistical agencies.  

Statistics during the steroid era

statistics during the steroid era


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