Thursday 14 April 2011

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

A  lot of statistics are used in articles about marketing and advertising and, when they relate to retailing, you will see them quoted on this website. Statistics are just so efficient at supporting an argument in short time but, can we believe what they are trying to tell us? Here are some famous views -
                Torture numbers, and they'll confess to anything.  ~Gregg Easterbrook
                Statistics are like bikinis.  What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.  ~Aaron Levenstein
                98% of all statistics are made up.  ~Author Unknown
                I always find that statistics are hard to swallow and impossible to digest.  The only one I can ever remember is that if all the people who go to sleep in church were laid end to end they would be a lot more comfortable.  ~Mrs. Robert A. Taft
                The average human has one breast and one testicle.  ~Des McHale
            So, do we stop using statistics as part of our arguments? The answer of course is – No! We simply need to keep things in perspective. There are a lot of uncertainties in retailing as in life generally. Diligent assessment of issues is aided by statistics and, as long as we critically assess, we will be a lot further in front than if we do nothing. Just be prepared to be wrong sometimes. We will aim to keep the balance right on this website.......well, at least 98% of the time.