The tag has been used more and more to refer to any question that has a quantitative element to it.

I think the tag should be used only about questions that are fundamentally about statistics (or probability, or sampling). Like:

These are some (what I would call) misuses of the tag:

Just because statistics would be useful/necessary to answer the question, that doesn't inform us at all about what the question is about. It seems that it is being used as a meta-tag.

If we are fine with those fours question (any many others) being tagged , why not:

My point is that a too liberal use of makes it either meaningless or a meta-tag.


2 Answers 2


My view may be biased here as I'm one of the top users of the tag. But I don't think it is a meta tag or a tag that deserves destruction.

It clearly violates one of the meta-tag criteria as it works fine as a lone tag on a question that is solely about statistics.

What seems to have triggered the concern about the tag is its wide use. This, however isn't because it is a meta-tag but is because a wide variety of questions in skepticism and science can only be answered via statistical means. Perhaps it should still be used sparingly, but it should not be abandoned.

As an example while many questions on the and are about climate change or medical science the controversy is about the statistical methods used to generate particular results. Tagging them with a tag that highlights this is useful for those who want to search for such questions. Losing the tag from them won't help anyone.

In short the is useful if we use it carefully and we shouldn't brand it as a nasty meta-tag too readily.

  • 1
    "The controversy is about the statistical methods?" That's a controversy, maybe, but it's not "the" controversy and the questions tend to be about the issue that statistics is being used to answer, and the statistics are simply part of the evidence to be presented/assessed.
    – user5582
    Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 14:47
  • All science uses statistics. Physics? Biology? Sociology? Politics? Economics? If a tag applies indiscriminately to a large proportion of questions it's most certainly a meta tag.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 14:51
  • @Sklivvz If we used the tag that way i would agree with you. But careful use is still possible. The majority of questions should not be so tagged, but then they never where. More discrimination: yes. Absolute blacklisting: no.
    – matt_black
    Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 14:52
  • @matt_black can you not just look through the climate-change tag to find those questions?
    – user5582
    Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 14:54
  • What rule would you propose to separate questions appropriately tagged statistics from those inappropriately tagged statistics?
    – user5582
    Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 14:55
  • @matt_black we have basically no question about the branch of mathematics called statistics, but a bunch about statistic results. The second should not be tagged statistics -- that's basically the only usage we had.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 15:01
  • @Articuno Good question. I will give it some extended thought.
    – matt_black
    Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 18:38
  • @Sklivvz You argue there are no questions about statistics but the original post here cites at least 5 that are hard to tag as anything else. I'm going to have think about a more restrictive set of criteria to define good use of the tag, but I think it is already clear that your "no questions" point is wrong.
    – matt_black
    Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 18:40
  • let's continue in Skeptics Chat
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 18:42

The tag has been burninated and blacklisted.

  • Sounds good. The few that I think would have been appropriately labeled statistics can just as well be labeled probability or, the NRA example, just left alone.
    – user5582
    Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 14:51

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