53 Percent of All Statistics

This one is for my nephew, Andrew, who is taking a statistics class in college this semester.

“Did you know that fifty-three percent of all statistics are made up on the spot?”

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  1. Actually, it’s 63% … okay, I just made that up.

  2. Barrie says:

    Gee I thought it was 79%…would you believe 77%….

  3. eclexia says:

    I love it 🙂
    I try to get my kids to think critically about any statistics they hear. Not that they can always know how true statistics are (or more importantly, how true the conclusions drawn from the statistics are), but at least I hope they will always have a measure of doubt before following someone’s agenda when statistics are used to persuade. Statistics never tell the whole story and rarely (if ever) can take all factors into consideration. There’s a fun and fairly easy to read book about that topic, although I’ve forgotten the name.

  4. Ray Fowler says:

    Hey, Gunny! No monkeying with the statistics! 🙂 Actually, that was the easiest post I ever wrote. Absolutely no research required at all!

    Eclexia – You are wise to teach your kids about the different ways people can manipulate statistics to make a case. It is fun to look at specific examples with our kids and see how the presentation or selection of factors can slant the conclusions.

  5. That reminds me of a post I had last year:
    “They’ve done studies, you know. 60% of the time it works every time.”


    I loves me some fuzzy math! 😉

  6. Ray Fowler says:

    Hi Barrie – I’m sorry your comment didn’t come through the first time. I just found it stuck in the moderation queue and released it. I’m not sure why it got stuck in the first place!

  7. Ray Fowler says:

    Gunny – Fun post. So it really is 72%? Now I’m really confused!

  8. Barrie wrote: “Gee I thought it was 79%…would you believe 77%….”

    Missed it by *that* much.

    72? That was a good year.

    You know, back in ’82 I could throw a pigskin a quarter-mile.

  9. Barrie says:

    Gee Ray, we could vote on which Stat is correct. I kind of like round numbers like say 70% or 80%. Seems that those numbers are a bit more user friendly. Besides, if you are gonna make em up, make em what you like.

  10. Bethany says:

    Andrew would like to know the following:

    Are you using raw data or sample data?
    If you’re using raw data, what’s the size of your population? What is the mean? Is your data normally distributed? And what are your standard deviations?

    Clearly he must be learning something at college!

  11. Ray Fowler says:

    Hi Bethany

    Please pass the following vital information on to Andrew for me.

    1) Raw data or sample data: This data is definitely raw. I did not bake these numbers. They have never seen the inside of a stove. They have not been roasted, toasted, boiled, broiled, grilled or fried. This data is raw.

    2) Size of your population: I live in Agawam, MA. There are 28,000 people who live here.

    3) Mean: Yes, I get very mean whenever anyone questions my statistics.

    4) Is your data normally distributed?: Look, I distributed this over my blog! Are you trying to say my blog is not normal or something? You can see why I am begining to get mean here!


    Hey, I hope those answers are helpful. Please give my best to Andrew. I hope he had a great birthday and does great in his class.

    Lots of love,
    Uncle Ray

  12. Barrie says:

    Gee Uncle Ray, Sounds like you need a trip to an island atmosphere where Statistics and blogs melt into the sunset. I hear that helps most people 87% of the time. Although you could visit a semi tropic climate and enjoy sunny days and warm ocean breezes. That would help about 77% of all persons.

    Gee this statistics thing is getting easier the more I write.

  13. Bethany says:

    Andrew is actually very glad to be almost done with Statistics forever. It’s not quite as entertaining the way his professor presents it. Nonetheless, we decided that only 2% of blogwriters are capable of making statistics entertaining, so you definitely are in the elite.

  14. Ray Fowler says:

    Barrie – You are having way too much fun with this. That island trip sounds real good to me. I imagine that must help most people 100% of the time.

    Bethany – You mean statistics are not always this fun? I was thinking of switching careers, but I guess I better keep my day job. Just a few more days of class, Andrew. Hang in there and finish strong. And thanks to both of you for placing me in the blogging elite.

  15. Rachael says:

    Wow. You guys were on a blog roll there! 🙂

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