In a blog and podcast a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Great British press. Their ability to fill hours of broadcast time and newspaper columns with no facts at all is really quite staggering. However, if you ask for the plain facts, then you are opening your arms to a deluge of statistics. Not just statistics, but lies, damn lies and statistics!

Statistics are dangerous. Sounds like an odd statement? Perhaps, but please hear me out.

Stats will tell you anything you want

I do believe that you can find statistics that you can use to prove anything that you want to. Equally, you can find statistics that will disprove it.

Not only this, but people often don’t know what the statistics represent. Nor do they always understand what is good and bad. I see this almost every day of my working life.

At it’s simplest, I could say to you that 50% of the people in a pub like me. Conversely, 50% of the people in the pub don’t like me. Perhaps an overly simplistic example, but you get what I mean.

So why do I chose to discuss this topic right now? Well right now, we need clear and concise information.

No News and statistics overload

When I spoke about the Great British Press talking about no facts for hours on end I stated that I wanted facts rather than rumour. Equally, I don’t want statistics overload. Nor do I want more ambiguity and confusion. We have enough ambiguity and confusion right now!

If you look on the internet for statistics on Coronavirus, you will find them. Boy, will you find them. But what are they telling us? If you know, then you are probably a better person than me.

Whilst the topic can cover anything, it is pertinent to discuss the covid stats.

We are deluged with graphs and charts. The media is full of them. But you don’t need to look to far to see that the stats presented are rarely independent. Lets face it, bad news and sensationalism sells newspapers. They attract audiences. The press flood us with shock and awe almost to the level of doomsday prophesies. Infections are going through the roof, hospitals admissions are rising after only a day or two of new rules. Sound familiar?

If you look at what the stats are, spend some time thinking about them, understanding them, you soon learn that they don’t always make sense. Yet how many people actually do that? Who takes a look at the charts and then just listens to the commentary? They believe what they are told, not always what they say.

So what do we do?

Firstly, identify the question that you want an answer to. Don’t think about the answer that you want, be open minded.

Next, do your own research and build the understanding of what information you need to help you answer your question.

Then, source the data from a reliable source that you trust. Stick with that data. Understand the data.

The data you want, may not always give you a happy answer. If you expect that you will start looking for different data that will tell you want to hear. What’s the point in that?

We need News, Facts and sensible stats. Let’s avoid Lies, Damn lies and statistics.

References

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