Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

“22% of fatalities on GB’s roads in 2011 occurred in collisions involving a driver aged 17 to 24 years old.”


One of many horrifying but valid statistics that my driving instructor used to remind me of while I pathetically attempted a parallel park (way back when). He reassuringly followed every stat with the famous quote by former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli.


There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”


My driving instructor was obviously trying to give me some forthright encouragement. Showing me you don’t have to fit into manipulated numbers that don’t prove anything once the details are divulged. I don’t have to drink and drive, I don’t have to fit into my age categories behaviours. Not many people actually do.


Statistics are a car crash.

You only discover what is disclosed.

So, what’s the truth? How are you going to know?


Statistics are of course measured and displayed for a real reason. They give businesses a huge advantage by setting a base, optimum and minimum. Whether they measure sales, web page hits, calls made, impressions etc etc. Hitting numbers validifies our hard work. Everyone knows they are putting blood, sweat and coffee into their work. The stats just justify our thoughts to raise our good ol’ self-esteem. Statistics are also used alongside the crystal ball of business to forecast growth (come at me 2017).


It is obsessive.


Numbers cannot be used to describe people. The stats don’t show team fluctuation, quality of work, rough patches, disagreements. The stats might fall one month because ½ the team decided to vacate to San Diego for a week however, there would be no way of discovering this without conversation. Remember that human interaction thing? It is extremely important and valuable.

I’m not saying analytics are lies they just are not the whole picture. Confounding variables must be always considered to avoid assumptions and a negative outlook. Let’s face it, businesses depend on people. The bland, overused quote that ‘people buy people’ is quite right. People don’t buy stats.