(Not) Falling for the Fallacy

(Jul 26, 2010)

An important concept is demography is the ecological fallacy.  This is where aggregate data for a group are used to draw erroneous inferences about individuals belonging to the group.  The less well known flip side to this is the atomistic fallacy (or individualistic fallacy), where attributes of individuals are used to make incorrect generalisations about the group to which they belong.

A related example of this was illustrated in an earlier posting on the link between smoking propensity and geodemographic type.  In the P 2 classification, people in category L were three times more likely to smoke than people in category A.  People in category L therefore tended to have higher mortality and didn't live as…

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Tags: ecological fallacy, smoking, geodemographics, asbestos

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