Joel Best is the author of Stat-Spotting, which maybe a must read for all planners in the business.
Life moves pretty fast and the data we generate in this hyper-connected age moves even faster. That’s especially true in the field of advertising where you have Faith Popcorn, Iconoculure, Open Mind, and a myriad of other shops churning out stats. Most people are well aware that numbers can be shaky stuff in this age of “professional” consumer groupers and an internet age that encourages a game of whisper down the gigabyte.
So, um… what about all these numbers? How do you better interpret the numbers on which you are going to base a multi-million dollar campaign? How do you tell whether the statistic in that Washington Post article is fact or fiction? Does a young person commit suicide every thirteen minutes in the United States? Is methamphetamine our number one drug problem today? Best’s book takes these numbers to task. “All too often, even the most respected publications present numbers that are miscalculated, misinterpreted, hyped, or simply misleading.”
It’s a nice fast read. If you can’t be bothered to purchase the book, Best sat for an interesting interview this morning with WNYC’s Leonard Lopate. Listen to it here.