Friday, September 9, 2016

Spreadsheet Errors

Five years ago I wrote a post titled, "Beware of Econometricians Bearing Spreadsheets". 

The take-away message from that post was simple: there's considerable, well-documented, evidence that spreadsheets are very, very, dangerous when it comes to statistical calculations. That is, if you care about getting the right answers!

Read that post, and the associated references, and you'll see what I mean.

(You might also ask yourself, why would I pay big bucks for commercial software that is of questionable quality when I can use high-quality statistical software such as R, for free?)

This week, a piece in The Economist looks at the shocking record of publications in genomics that fall prey to spreadsheet errors. It's a sorry tale, to be sure. I strongly recommend that you take a look.

Yes, any software can be mis-used. Anyone can make a mistake. We all know that. However, it's not a good situation when a careful and well-informed researcher ends up making blunders just because the software they trust simply isn't up to snuff!  

© 2016, David E. Giles