Can we always trust in the analysis of complex datasets?

Results of statistical operations are far from being intuitive. One needs a lot of experience to reliably judge computed results, and most people would listen to the advice given by experts in the field. This makes a story presented by the BBC all the more remarkable; it is about a student who took over the task to check the calculations of two Harvard professors. He was not only unable to replicate the results that Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff published; it was much more: he spotted a basic error in the spreadsheet and was thus able to correct their research paper called “Growth in a Time of Debt”. That may sound like a modern myth; but sometimes politicians base their decisions on papers like these.


Jörg Lehmann, FUB

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