Lies, Statistics & Other Stories

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics. – Disraeli

Use this; this sanitiser kills 99.99% of Germs.

Don't drive on highways at 8.00 pm. Statistics say most fatalities on highways occur at 8 pm.

Drink this – It says 31% more juice.

Use this Shampoo – It says 60% more shinier.

If you had fallen for anything similar to the above, then there are many chances that you have been brainwashed. Before getting into the details of statistics, let me tell you how you could have been brainwashed.

Sanitiser kills 99.99% of germs

If you want to convince someone of something and yet you don't have the exact proof. Try doing something else and try telling them they are just the same. In statistics, it called a semi-attached figure.

The so-called sanitiser may not kill the germs you want to kill, but its spray killed most of the random germs in a test tube in a laboratory under ten seconds. The sanitiser never demonstrated its power on a coronavirus, or its side effects were studied thoroughly, yet they sounded just right to get the sale.

Fatalities on highways

Your Newspaper claims that there are four times as many fatalities on the highways at 8 pm, indicating it's too dangerous to drive on highways at 8 pm. Interestingly the truth is that there are simply more people on the highways that time to end up dead in case of an accident.

31% more juice & 60 % more Shinier Shampoo

One of the great ways to deceive people with comparisons is to use percentages. Percentage offers a fertile field of confusion. All you have to do is "forget" to mention what you are actually comparing.

"26 per cent more juice," But what, exactly, is it 26 per cent more of?

"60 per cent shinier," shinier than what?

Knowledge is a big subject. Ignorance is bigger.

The two types of ignorance.

1. Willful stupidity - Deliberately ignorance of facts or logic, often to maintain your beliefs about the world.

2. Absence of facts or insight - Individual's lack of knowledge. This, unlike willful stupidity, is a valuable kind of ignorance, and in fact, spurs scientific research.

About averages

If you had taken maths a bit seriously, you would realise that all averages are not created equally. There are, in fact, three different types of averages: the mean, the median and the mode, and each is distinct.

The same data can be projected differently under the disguise of mean, median or mode based on the need of the projector.

As you can see, the word "average" isn't as straightforward as we might think, so it's always worth asking exactly which "average" people are talking about.

Statistics is not an actual reality