Use and abuse of statistics
Author(s)/Corporate Author (s)Reichman, W.J.;
United Nations. Economic Commission for Africa. African Institute for Economic Development and Planning(IDEP);
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There are two widely divergent views of statistics currently popular among the general public. One view is that published statistics are themselves invested with some quality of meaning not unlike the qualities ascribed to numbers by the Pythagorean, and that they enjoy such a degree of infallibility that they may be accepted without question. This, of course, is just as nonsensical as the other and yet more popular belief that statistics can be made to prove anything and therefore, by implication, that in fact they can prove nothing. This is quite untrue and, although it is nevertheless nearer to the truth to say that statistics may be presented in such a way as to appear to prove anything, this is a very different matter altogether. Both views are erroneous since they are based upon an ignorance or misunderstanding of the objects, scope and discipline of true statistical theory and practice. But, whether correct or not, these general beliefs have in the past helped to build up a mass of antipathy which is even now considerable, despite the rapid advances and the contributions which statistical method has been able to make in the organization of our affairs and resources.
Citation“Reichman, W.J.; United Nations. Economic Commission for Africa. African Institute for Economic Development and Planning(IDEP) (1960). Use and abuse of statistics. Dakar. © UN. IDEP. ”
- Economic theory