Lies, Damn Lies, And Statistics
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"Lies, damned lies, and statistics" is a phrase describing the persuasive power of statistics to bolster weak arguments, "one of the best, and best-known" critiques of applied statistics. It is also sometimes colloquially used to doubt statistics used to prove an opponent's point.
Mark Twain popularized the saying in Chapters from My Autobiography, published in the North American Review in 1907. "Figures often beguile me," Twain wrote, "particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: 'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'"
The expression, "there are three types of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics" is often attributed to Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) who was Prime Minster of Great Britain from 1874 to 1880, because Mark Twain ascribed it to him in a 1907 article in the North American Review: "Figures often beguile me...particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: 'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'"The Phrase Finder offers that it is likely that Twain believed the expression originated from Disraeli because of an 1895 speech by British politician Leonard H. Courtney in New York in which he said, "After all, facts are facts, and although we may quote one to another with a chuckle the words of the Wise Statesman, 'Lies - damn lies - and statistics,' still there are some easy figures the simplest must understand, and the astutest cannot wriggle out of." However, there is no evidence that Courtney was referring to Disraeli.According to The Phrase Finder, the earliest known citation of the expression in close to its current form is by Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, as quoted in the Manchester Guardian, 29th June 1892: "there are three kinds of falsehoods, lies, damned lies and statistics."Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour (1848-1930), was a British statesman who had held many important government roles by the time of Leonard H. Courtney's 1895 speech, so it seems plausible that the statesman Courtney had in mind was Balfour. However, it seems unlikely that the expression originated with him because, according to Wikipedia, an earlier instance of the phrase (or something close to it) is found four years earlier in a letter to the editor of the British newspaper National Observer, in June 1891:
Lies are commonly distinguished into three kinds: First, there are malicious or pernicious lies, or lies the design of which is to do mischief. These are universally condemned. Secondly, there are jocose lies, or lies told for the purpose of amusement and merriment. However common these are, and however lightly they are thought of, a strict moralist will condemn them also, because truth is too sacred to be trifled with. Thirdly, there are officious lies, which are so called because they are intended to promote the benefit of others.
An old jest runs to the effect that there are three degrees of comparison among liars. There are liars, there are outrageous liars, and there are scientific experts. This has lately been adapted to throw dirt upon statistics. There are three degrees of comparison, it is said, in lying. There are lies, there are outrageous lies, and there are statistics. Statisticians can afford to laugh at and profit by jests at their expense.
But, hey, just as Justice and company low-ball state revenue estimates and then claim to have produced budget surpluses, the positive spin is what counts, even if that means relying on lies, damn lies and statistics.
To the extent that this model applies, fabricated options are practically useful as a search strategy. A "useful" fabricated option is one for which we can more easily solve the problem by (1) solving the ... (read more)
I also like that you explained the snowclone "lies, damned lies, and statistics". I'm familiar with both of these cliches, but they're generally overused to the point of meaninglessness. It's clear you used them with purpose.
The full saying referenced in the title of the episode is "There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies, and statistics." The phrase was made popular in the United States by Mark Twain, among others.
In our opinion, the recently released retail sales report is not a reliable indicator of a rebound in the Puerto Rican economy. Intellectual honesty requires, at a minimum, that statistical releases be accompanied with a full analysis of the relevant context. Otherwise, it is just lies, damn lies, and statistics. 2b1af7f3a8