Friday, September 4, 2009

It's easier to lie without statistics

Mark Twain attributes this quote to the British statesman Disraeli: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” An erudite American statistician, Fred Mosteller, quipped in response: “It’s easy to lie with statistics, but it’s easier to lie without them.” Considerable research in cognitive psychology and decision theory has demonstrated repeatedly that our guts, hearts, and heads play tricks on us that good data and statistics can help protect us from.

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