In 1972, Hal Varian suggested that the law could be used to detect possible fraud in lists of socio-economic data submitted in support of public planning decisions. Based on the plausible assumption that people who make up figures tend to distribute their digits fairly uniformly, a simple comparison of first-digit frequency distribution from the data with the expected distribution according to Benford’s law ought to show up any anomalous results.
In the same vein, Benford’s law can be (and is) used to analyse insurance, accounting or expenses data and identify possible fraud.
Other uses, for example to analyse the results of clinical trials and election results, have also been proposed.
É, matemática ajuda cientistas sociais mais do que eles imaginam…