Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics

86. The Office of National Statistics


“Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics” is a phrase used to describe the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments.
And I quote (according to various Internet sources)  “The quotation is often attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, the 19th century British Prime Minister. The source for this view is the autobiography of Mark Twain, where he makes that attribution. Nevertheless, no version of this quotation has been found in any of Disraeli’s published works or letters. An early reference to the expression, which may explain Twain’s assertion is found in a speech made by Leonard H. Courtney, (1832-1918), later Lord Courtney, in New York in 1895:

‘After all, facts are facts, and although we may quote one to another with a chuckle the words of the Wise Statesman, “Lies – damn lies – and statistics,” still there are some easy figures the simplest must understand, and the astutest cannot wriggle out of.’

What we can’t wriggle out of is the fact we have a stunningly-modelled artifact courtesy of our Cardiff-based branch of Mugspotters, received via Twitter. I’ll tell you it’s a Bell, despite not being able to see the handle but purely based on the ‘lipped’ aperture and well-rounded base. I can’t even fully see that it’s promoting the Office for National Statistics. I’m assuming. You’re all believing.

Let’s face it, we are fed stats and figures every day without any context and we’re expected to gobble them up. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet or hear on the news.

87.34% of all statistics are made up. Honest.


Nat Stats

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