on Jane's, How Publishing Really Works, jumped out at me.
As a child I took a little time to work out what "7 out of 10 dentists" as opposed to "7 out of every 10 dentists" really meant. Once I had sussed it out I started to look for similar examples. There were plenty. I will not bore you with them.
Then I discovered statistics in a different way. I was expected to use the damn things at university. I was taught about 'bell curves' and 'chi-square' and ANOVA and then ANCOVA and all sorts of other fancy arithmetical playthings beloved of psychologists to try and show that something they have thought of can be 'proven' correct.
I nearly failed my doctoral thesis because I made a small change to the way in which a 'standard' diagnostic test was applied. In doing so I succeeded (quite by accident) in bringing down the entire house of cards relating to that body of work. I was not popular.
I can remember sitting in the basement canteen of a certain psychology department and, behind me, hearing the professor of statistics and the department's statistical expert discussing a problem and the words, "If you use 'x' test rather than 'y' then you will get a significant result."
I nearly quit university at that point. Perhaps I should have.
Since then I have tended to treat all 'research' with some scepticism. It makes life uncomfortable. There is no certainty any more. When there is a 'breakthrough' I merely wonder what is going on and hope that there might be a grain of truth in it rather than a new way to sell another drug that has side effects worse than the disease. When the polls of 484 voters show massive support for one political party over another I wonder how many people will be caught up in 'well I might as well vote for them. They are going to win anyway" mode.
We should teach logic in schools. We should train the young to apply it to what they hear and read. In about fifty years from now we might have a few people who could really think for themselves. Research suggests that changing beliefs and opinions will be much harder to do.