This should prove to you, once and for all, that you should NOT believe the statistics you read without asking significantly more questions.
Tyler Vigen thought it interesting enough to create a website dedicated to the humor in misleading statistics. His charts show that correlation does not necessarily mean causation. But considering how often people quote statistics, I fear most fail to see the complexity in the math. Just google “statistics” and you’ll see over six million results. Some educational, some to inform, many/most are statistics themselves. If you were major in Statistics, you’d be learning math and science, theory, sociology, psychology, and the various principles used to analyze data. If you’re good at analyzing data (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html?_r=0), you can use statistics to… drive business, solve problems, create problems, cause trouble. Like any great power, it comes with great responsibility. That responsibility lies on those who report the statistics, but it also lies on those who consume it. You.
Have you ever heard the statistic that we only use 10% of our brain? I hope you never used that quote yourself. You’d be laughably wrong. Another survey shows how entire populations can be wrong because they misunderstand statistics.
The moral of today’s story: be wary of the statistics you read, and even more diligent if you plan to use them for anything. Look into the cause. Find fact in causation and influence. And lastly… do not quote anything until you do 🙂
100% of people who read this story will have found it on the internet.