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Distrust of Statistics

By distrust of statistics we mean lack of confidence in statistical statements and statistical methods. It is often commented by people, “Statistics can prove anything.” “There are three types of lies, damned lies and statistics – wicked in the order of their naming.’ Or as a Paris banker stated: “Statistics are like miniskirts, they cover up the essentials but give you the ideas.” The following three main reasons account for such views about statistics:

1. Figures are convincing and, therefore, people are easily led to believe them.

2. They can be manipulated in such a manner as to establish foregone conclusion.

3. Even if correct figures are used they may be presented in such a manner that the reader is misled. The various ways in which statistics are often misused shall be discussed in detail in a subsequent chapter, Suffice here to know that statistics neither prove anything nor disproves anything. It is only a tool, i.e., a method of approach. Tool, if properly used, do wonders and, if misused, prove disastrous and if misused they can do more harm than good. But the fault does not lie with the science of Statistics as such. A few interesting examples can be cited to illustrate the point. Medicines are meant for curing people, but if a wrong medicine is taken or an excessive dose of a medicine is taken a person may die. We cannot blame the medicine for such a result.
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