Now that I am more familiar with the basic concepts of statistics, I often see that the statistical values are being used incorrectly. According to the authors of Abusing Statistics,some factors that may cause for a statistic to be used inappropriate include bad data collection, bad application of statistical functions, forming the wrong conclusion, and sneaky tricks to mislead the unwary. One example bad data collection is sampling the wrong population for a study. If you were trying to determine if teen pregnancies have increased from previous years, sampling women of a particular older age than teenage years would be inappropriate. An example of forming the wrong conclusion and utilizing sneaky tricks and misleading the unwary can be described similar to one of our previous discussion questions, statistics are used to the benefit of the researcher or the presenter. The values of the statistics can be manipulated into help accelerate a point of view of the presenter. With the researcher manipulating the data, it allows for applications for statistical functions. One example of this is when the researcher inputs their own assumptions to conclude the effects of a linear correlation.
On February 2007, CSPI (Center for Science in Public Interest) sued Coca-cola and Nestle for claiming their green tea caffeinated drink, Enviga, to be a “calorie burner”. The advertisement for Enviga said the drink burns more calories than actual intake which results “negative calories”. In other words, Coca Cola claimed Enviga will prevent extra calories from building up. This notion was based on a brief study on the drink funded by Coke and Nestle. The study consisted of 31 lean participants on calorie-restricted diet (participants were men and women) that have BMI of 22. CSPI included on the lawsuit that the study’s sample is biased and that it does not represent the American population where majority are either obese or overweight (BMI of 25 and above). We learned on the first week of class the importance of gathering data from a random sample that will most generalize the characteristics of the chosen population. Furthermore, the study claimed an individual to lose around 100 calories per day by drinking 3 cans of Enviga where mathematically, individual is expected to lose weight (with consistent consumption) after 35 days. The study’s length contradicts such claim because it was conducted no more than 72 hours (3 days). There is no research that will support long term effect of Enviga. In addition, the company claimed the green tea drink to have more epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) (which is a known cancer-fighting antioxidant) compared to other green tea beverages. Interestingly, Enviga contains aspartame as one of its ingredients which is known to cause blood-related cancers (American Cancer Society, 2018). Instead of falsely advertising the drink to have weight loss benefits, Coca Cola and Nestle should have (legally) labeled it a regular drink.
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