Choosing Statistics to Evade the Argument
Posted by Blessing of Kings [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 July 2013, 2:23 am
Gryphonheart at The Lion Guard posted about a tweet by Ghostcrawler regarding LFR.
@Ixidane Most of the players doing LFR just didn't raid at all before. They were never really eligible for recruitment.
— Greg Street (@Ghostcrawler) June 6, 2013

I've seen this tweet before, and it annoys me. Even though it seems like GC is rebutting Ixidane, both statements can be true at the same time.

To see this, imagine a population of 100 players. Before LFR, 20 of them participate in regular raids. We'll call these 20 players Raiders, and the other 80 players Casuals.

Then LFR comes out. 10 Raiders switch to LFR, along with 30 Casuals.  So the following statements are both true:
  1. LFR has significantly damaged normal raiding. Normal raiding lost 50% (10 of 20) of its players.
  2. The majority of people in LFR didn't raid before. 75% of raiders in LFR (30 of 40) didn't raid before.
I'm not saying that Ixidane's contention, or statement 1 above, is true. It might very well be false. I don't have the numbers to verify, though the various progress sites are showing a significant reduction in normal raiding guilds and raiders.

 But GC's rebuttal is deliberately misleading, spinning numbers in a way that appears to refute the argument, but really does not.

I think this bothers me because I see it more and more on the internet. Getting people to give straightforward numbers in favor of their arguments is like pulling teeth. Numbers are always phrased to be slightly misleading, shown as a percentage when the denominator is not exactly what you would expect, or is correct to use. Or the number is normalized in some misleading fashion, and the normalization is waved away.

Lately, I get highly suspicious anytime I see "percent" or "most" or "majority" in support of arguments. These statistics never seem to be the expected or obvious statistic. It's always a statistic deliberately chosen to prop up one side of the argument. Raw numbers showing the totals and breakdown into each category are always to be preferred, but are rarely shown.

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