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Using Data Like a Drunk Uses a Lamppost

Startup companies can be tempted to use statistics for support instead of real illumination

Karl Pearson, the great English mathematician and statistician, wrote, “Statistics is the grammar of science.” At its finest, it is. Statistical data and methods are the backbone of the scientific method that underlies the astonishing scientific advances that humans have made. Unfortunately, statistics can also be used to provide misleading support for false claims. The examples are numerous and so are the laments: There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.—Benjamin Disraeli There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up.—Rex Stout Definition of Statistics: The science of producing unreliable facts from reliable figures. —Evan Esar If you torture the data long enough, they will confess.—Ronald Coase We couldn’t Read More ›