GPD Lexicon

GPD Lexicon: A collection of words or phrases developed on the Graph Paper Diaries blog or comment section to describe a specific bias, error, or otherwise fallacious line of thinking employed by people arguing about statistics or data, particularly on the internet.

The Tim Tebow Fallacy: The tendency to increase the strength of a belief based on an incorrect perception that your viewpoint is underrepresented in the public discourse

The Forrest Gump Fallacy: The belief that your own personal, cultural and political development and experiences are generalizable to the country as a whole.

The Perfect Metric Fallacy: The belief that if one simply finds the most relevant or accurate set of numbers possible, all bias will be removed, all stress will be negated, and the answer to complicated problems will become simple, clear and completely uncontroversial.

The White Collar Paradox: Requiring that numbers and statistics be used to guide all decisions due to their ability to quantify truth and overcome bias, while simultaneously only giving attention to those numbers created to cater to ones social class, spot in the workplace hierarchy, education level, or general sense of superiority.

Number BlindnessThe phenomena of becoming so consumed by an issue that your cease to see numbers as independent entities and view them only as props whose rightness or wrongness is determined solely by how well they fit your argument

The Bullshit Two-Step: A dance in which a story or research with nuanced points and  specific parameters is shared via social media. With each share some of the nuance or specificity is eroded, finally resulting in a story that is almost total bullshit but that no one individually feels responsible for. 

Premature Expostulation: The act of claiming definitively that a person, group or media outlet has not reported on, responded to or comment on an event or topic, without first establishing whether or not this is true. 

Misreprecitation: The act of directly citing a piece of work  to support your argument, when even a cursory reading of the original work shows it does not actually support your argument.

Buoy statistic: A statistic that is presented on its own as free-floating, while the context and anchoring data is hidden from initial sight.

Tidal Statistic: A metric that is presented as evidence of the rise or fall of one particular group, subject or issue, during a time period when related groups also rose or fell on the same metric

Hrair Line: a somewhat arbitrary line past which all numbers seem equally large

The Receding Hrair Line: The tendency to move one’s hrair line based on the subject under discussion, or for one group and not another, normally to benefit your argument

Mountain-Molehill Myopiathe tendency to get so fixated on an issue that major changes in magnitude of the numbers involved do not change your stance. Alternatively, being so fixated on an issue that you believe that any change to the number completely proves your point.

Pyrgopolynices’ numbers: Numbers that are wrong or over-inflated, but that you believe because they are supported by those around you due to tribal affiliations rather than independent verification

Broken Record Statistic: A statistic or characterization that was once true, but is continuously repeated even after the numbers behind it have moved on.

Proxy Preference: A preference or answer given on a survey that reflects a larger set of wants or needs not reflected in the question.

Reporting the high water mark: A newspaper report about a study that uses the sample size of potential subjects the researchers started with, as opposed the sample size for the study they subsequently report on.

Delusions of Mediocrity: A false sense of one’s one averageness. Typically seen in those with above average abilities or resources who believe that most people live like they do.

Rubin Vase Reporting: The practice of grounding a statistic in either the positive (i.e. % who said yes) or negative (i.e. % who said no) responses in order to influence the way the statistic is read and what it appears to show.