Quotes on getting the numbers right

“Smoking causes 67% of all statistics.”

Quotes on getting the numbers right

“Smoking causes 67% of all statistics.” Image by Amritanshu Sikdar

“Two-thirds of all statistics are made up on the spot.”
— Anonymous

“Studies show that smoking causes 67 percent of all statistics.”
— Anonymous

“Eighty percent of all people consider themselves to be above average.”
— Anonymous

“Did you know that 87.166253% of all statistics claim a precision of results that is not justified by the method employed?”
— Anonymous

“Numbers, when they’re large enough, simply blow our mental fuses. People often find anything with an ‘-illion’ on the end incomprehensible. They make a useless mental shortcut: ‘lots of zeros = big.’”
— Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot, authors, The Numbers Game

“Any economic forecast that includes a decimal point suggests a level of precision that isn’t really possible.”
— Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg, producers of Planet Money

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
— Benjamin Disraeli,19th century British prime minister

Quotes on getting the numbers right

“They’ve done studies, you know. 60% of the time it works, every time.”
— Brian Fantana, a character played by Paul Rudd on “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” on his favorite cologne, Sex Panther

“Two is not equal to three, not even for large values of two.”
— Grabel’s Law

“If there is a 50-50 chance that something can go wrong, then 9 times out of 10 it will.”
— Paul Harvey, American radio broadcaster

“He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts — for support rather than for illumination.”
— Andrew Lang, Scottish poet, folklorist, biographer, translator, novelist and scholar

“Treating 2004 dollars the same as 1981 dollars isn’t much different from treating dollars the same as rupees. The fact that 10 is a bigger number than 9 doesn’t make 10 rupees worth more than $9; nor does it make $10 from 2004 worth more than $9 from 1981.”
— David Leonhardt, The New York Times economics correspondent

USA Today has come out with a new survey. Apparently, three out of every four people make up 75 percent of the population.”
— David Letterman, host, “Late Show with David Letterman”

“Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.”
— Aaron Levenstein, American academic

“In November, when New York City Comptroller William Thompson released a study purporting to show that New Yorkers purchased more than $23 billion in counterfeit goods each year, The Times repeated the analysis as if it were credible. Quick arithmetic would have demonstrated that $23 billion would work out to roughly $8,000 per city household, a number ludicrous on its face.”
— Daniel Okrent, The New York Times ombudsman

“With one foot in a bucket of ice water, and one foot in a bucket of boiling water, you are, on the average, comfortable.”
— WorkJoke.com

“I asked a statistician for her phone number… and she gave me an estimate.”
— WorkJoke.com

  • Take the Numb Out of Numbers

    Make statistics understandable and interesting

    If your readers are like most, they have, on average, below basic numeracy, or numerical literacy, according a massive international literacy study. So how well are they understanding your quarterly results?

    Take the Numb Out of Numbers

    “Numbers without context, especially large ones with many zeros trailing behind, are about as intelligible as vowels without consonants,” writes Daniel Okrent, former New York Times ombudsman. Indeed, poorly handled, statistics can make your readers’ eyes glaze over.

    Avoid statistics soup and other bad numbers tricks that make your readers’ eyes glaze over.

    At Cut Through the Clutter — our in-house clear-writing workshop — you’ll learn how to:

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