Klosterneuburg, Austria


Language: English Studies in English
Subject area: mathematics and statistics
University website: www.ist.ac.at
Statistics is a branch of mathematics dealing with the collection, analysis, interpretation, presentation, and organization of data. In applying statistics to, for example, a scientific, industrial, or social problem, it is conventional to begin with a statistical population or a statistical model process to be studied. Populations can be diverse topics such as "all people living in a country" or "every atom composing a crystal". Statistics deals with all aspects of data including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments. See glossary of probability and statistics.
Politicians use statistics in the same way that a drunk uses lampposts — for support rather than illumination.
Andrew Lang, in a 1910 speech: as quoted in Alan L. Mackay, The Harvest of a Quiet Eye (1977), and reported in Chambers Dictionary of Quotations (2005), p. 488.
The individual source of the statistics may easily be the weakest link. Harold Cox tells a story of his life as a young man in India. He quoted some statistics to a Judge, an Englishman, and a very good fellow. His friend said, Cox, when you are a bit older, you will not quote Indian statistics with that assurance. The Government are very keen on amassing statistics—they collect them, add them, raise them to the nth power, take the cube root and prepare wonderful diagrams. But what you must never forget is that every one of those figures comes in the first instance from the chowty dar [chowkidar] (village watchman), who just puts down what he damn pleases.
Josiah Stamp, recounting a story from Harold Cox, Some Economic Factors in Modern Life (1929), p. 258.
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
Attributed to Benjamin Disraeli by Mark Twain in "Chapters from My Autobiography — XX", North American Review No. DCXVIII (JULY 5, 1907) [1]. His attribution is unverified and the origin is uncertain: see Lies, damned lies, and statistics and Leonard H. Courtney. Other authors to whom the quote has been attributed, as reported in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989), include Henry Labouchère, Abram S. Hewitt, and Holloway H. Frost.
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