"There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics."
Benjamin Disraeli
(1804-1881) Prime Minister of England, British statesman, novelist
attributed to Disraeli in Mark Twain's Autobiography, 1924
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Reader comments about this quote:
...and gun control people know how to twist statistics.
 -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
    I thought this quote was from Mark Twain.
     -- Cyrus, Gainesboro, TN     
    I second the observation of Cyrus. This quote is I believe one of the most famous quotes by Mark Twain. Disaeli is quoting Twain. As a practicing scientist in a dicipline that uses statistics I never did like this quote (no offense Samuel Clemens, aka Twain). Yes, one can lie with stats, but the best way to detect those lies is to know something about stats. However stats are essential in virtually all sciences for making sense of data.
     -- Sheldon , Cortez, Colorado     
    Twain attributes the quote to Disraeli in his autobiography.
     -- Editor, Liberty Quotes     
    I think it is damn true, no matter who said it.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
  • 3
    Yes Twain quotes Disraeli in his Autobiography. It is brilliant, take that Gallup and Zogby!
     -- Gölök ZLF Buday, Vancouver, GVRD(Paine Cnty), BC(SU), US of Eh!(USoA)     
    I like it ;-)
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Statistics (correctly done and not falsified)are not lies but only EVIDENCE to be evaluated and considered.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
  • 1
    Excellent! Waffler - it was not meant to be emphatic but rethorical.
     -- RobertSRQ     
  • 1
    So Robert you mean it was just meant to be cute? I agree that it is cute but it is not truth. Lies and damn lies are caused by intent. Statistics well they just "lie" (no pun intended) there and do nothing.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
    Ha. I thought it was funny.
     -- Crystal, PA     
    I give this 3 stars. I agree with lies and damn lines. There are hills and valleys in the statistical graph, but mathematically speaking, you look are trend and regression. Concerning gun control and statistical twisting Mr Joe, may I remind you that we are in the current predicament because we were given false information based on completely false premises, and the big guys completely ignored the false possibilities. What a morons, wouldnt you agree?
     -- RKA, Wasilla, AK     
    Cherry picking data is the most usually manipulation of statistics and it says more about the integrity or competence of the researcher than the data itself or its statistical treatment. There are biases that enter research data through the experimental method as well in addition to the influence of expectations. The global warming "hockey stick" graph is a perfect example of cherry picking. I am not sure what combination of expectations, incompetence, or obfuscation led to that.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
  • 2
    Ah, a good primer that many college students read concerning statistics is the book "Damned Lies and Statistics" that is taken from this quote. Nothing is intrinsically wrong with statistics; however, the problem arises when axe-grinders purposefully or accidentally (due to their over-zealousness) purport findings that aren't accurate... this happens all of the time. It's allowed to happen because the American people never question statistics; they blindly trust the authority of the written word... After all, if our media was really tainted, wouldn't there be whistle blowers? ..laughs.. Perhaps there ARE whistle blowers, but how would you ever hear about it when it is the very media who would shut them out?
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
  • 2
    Opinion polls are a classic example. Polls from the establishment media usually reflect their agenda, not a true sampling of the public. For months Hillary's poll numbers have been propped up by sampling mostly Democrats -- she is not popular even in her own party these days and it's getting harder and harder to prop her up.

    Opinion-making absolutely depends on poll results being broadcast widely. What about all the polls they take the results of which are NOT published?

    Cancer therapy statistics are also grossly manipulated to justify their unconscionable fees. Most chemotherapy drugs work no better than a placebo, and when a person dies because the treatment was too poisonous, the cause is attributed to the cancer, not the chemotherapy.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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