[R] the joy of spreadsheets (off-topic)
jim at bitwrit.com.au
Tue Apr 16 23:33:13 CEST 2013
On 04/17/2013 03:25 AM, Sarah Goslee wrote:
> (Note: I know nothing about the site, the author of the article, or
> the study in question. I was pointed to it by someone else. But if
> true: highly problematic.)
There seem to be three major problems described here, and only one is
marginally related to Excel (and similar spreadsheets). Cherry picking
data is all too common. Almost anyone who reviews papers for publication
will have encountered it, and there are excellent books describing
examples that have had great influence on public policy.
Similarly, applying obscure and sometimes inappropriate statistical
methods that produce the desired results when nothing else will appears
with depressing frequency.
The final point does relate to Excel and any application that hides what
is going on to the casual observer. I will treasure this URL to give to
anyone who chastises my moaning when I have to perform some task in
Excel. It is not an error in the application (although these certainly
exist) but a salutory caution to those who think that if a reasonable
looking number appears in a cell, it must be the correct answer. I have
found not one, but two such errors in the simple calculation of a
"birthday age" from the date of birth and date of death.
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