Damned Lies

Tomorrow is the first World Statistics Day. On the World Statistics Day website, in reply to their rhetorical question “Why a World Statistics Day?” (actually, it’s not that rhetorical, why indeed), they say:

“The celebration of the World Statistics Day will acknowledge the service provided by the global statistical system at national and international level, and hope to help strengthen the awareness and trust of the public in official statistics. It serves as an advocacy tool to further support the work of statisticians across different settings, cultures, and domains.”

Anyway, since I have nothing else to write about think this is a very important event, I’ve compiled some statistics of my own:

  • 100% of the authors of this blog thought the phrase “advocacy tool” was a derogatory term for lawyers.
  • World Statistics Day makes up just 0.27% of the number of days in the year, but thanks to the statistical error allowance of plus or minus 3 per cent, it could in fact last for twelve days. Or never have taken place at all.
  • This allowance for a margin of error is unique to statisticians. It does not apply, for example, to chefs weighing ingredients, shopkeepers giving change or Doctor Frankenstein calculating how much lightning to allow to strike the creature.
  • Sixty per cent of statistical reports will end with the phrase “since records began”.
  • Our own Central Statistics Office will celebrate tomorrow by launching a new annual award, the John Hooper Medal for Statistics. This is proof that you can be a winner, yet a loser, at the same time.
  • 90% of statisticians think that last joke was average. Mean, in fact.
  • The phrase “a woman’s Vital Statistics”, when you think about it, means absolutely nothing. Vital to who? Sexist rubbish.
  • Boobs are nice, mind.
  • The average height of man has increased by three inches since the 19th century. My ancestors must have been dwarves.
  • It is well known that you’ve more chance of being hit by a bus than winning the Lottery. This is because the Lottery only comes along a couple of times a week whereas – wait, I haven’t thought this through properly.
  • If you think the Average Rainfall Figures for Ireland sound suspiciously low, you must remember that over half of the country is indoors.
  • If you put a million monkeys in a room with a million typewriters, the noise would be feckin’ awful.
  • The Department of Health reckon we all eat too much. They have a pie-chart to prove it.
  • There are five billion people in the world. Just think, if each of them gave just one euro to Ireland, then – er, we’d still owe €45 billion.
  • There are, as I say, five billion people in the world. I have about twelve readers. That’s an awful lot of noughts to the right of the decimal place.

That puts me in my place.

6 thoughts on “Damned Lies

  1. jmg

    go the statisticians i d i o t s we just had an election based on looney polls. I want to start an refusal to do polls so politicians have to tells us what they think instead of what we think movement, catchy name huh. We are they quality 12 readers by the way.

    Reply
  2. Mwa

    This made me laugh a lot. And I’m a mathematician. My dad is actually a statistician and he always gave this as the reason for stopping after four kids: otherwise the next one would have been Chinese.

    Reply
  3. Delarivier

    At last, a sensible explanation of statistics. Would you come and teach it to my students?
    Oh and by the way, I think I’m your 13th reader..

    Reply
  4. laughykate

    I get so angry when, every year, I have to fill out a form for the Stats Department due to the fact I’m self employed and that I work in the film and television industry. And does everyone else in my shoes. I can safely say that there is a collective rage that grows when these complete-waste-of- time-and-money pamphlets land in our letter boxes. Also they take about three quarters of an hour to fill out (and that’s if you’re doing it INACCURATELY), there’s even a question at the end ‘How long did this survey take you?’And if you don’t fill them out the feckers ring you up and hassle you about it !

    ‘Why do I have to fill this out ?’

    ‘It’s very useful information for the industry, and you can access the results.’

    ‘BUT I DON’T NEED TO KNOW IF OTHER PEOPLE HAVE EARNT MORE OR LESS MONEY THAN LAST YEAR, OR IF THEY THINK THEY NEED TO BE PAID MORE.’

    ‘But it may be valuable for other people.’

    ‘BUT I NEVER TELL THE TRUTH ANYWAY !’

    ‘That is against the law Ma’am.’

    ‘I mean, ummm, well I do, um actually…..mumble, mumble.’

    Reply

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