Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Statistical Logistics

In the UK, a European region known for the puzzling behavior of it's inhabitants, only one-third of people trust official statistics. That is according to official statistics. Oh, the irony.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) polled more than 1,000 adults and learned that the majority of the public thought statistical figures were manipulated for political purposes. (I suppose it's worth noting that the ONS is preparing to become independent of ministerial control, as it will be the new UK Statistics Authority and begin answering directly to Parliament. That is supposed to help boost the public's confidence in what it does. I don't know how it's supposed to do that, but they say it is. I still don't believe them.) The research they conducted shows that 36% of people believed official statistics presented to the public were accurate. And 84% said the Governmental statistics presented to the public were not accurate.

To me, this data shows something a little different. To me, this data shows that the people in charge of the data either a) can't add or b) are the worst manipulators of data ever. See, when compiling a "statistic", that which encompasses "all" of the items in whatever is being looked at can only total 100% 100% is the equivalent of "all". When you have 36% believing that the statistics are accurate and you have 84% believing that the statistics are inaccurate, you end up with 120% of the people. That's 20% more people than you started with. That also means that the 36% of people you polled who think that statistical figures in the UK are not manipulated are morons.

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