World Statistics Day

World Statistics Day, 10-20-2010

Today is World Statistics day, the day when people all over the world recall the day in 1055 when Renualt Statis first crunched the numbers and created the world's first statistic, which was 2%.  In those early days no one knew how to apply statistics, so 2% was a cultural orphan until almost 25 years later when, in 1077, reduced fat milk was invented.

Today, no one’s life is untouched, or unmeasured, by statistics.  For example, 38% of the poor are used in statistics about 63% of the time, leading professionals to talk of the poor as being “over-staticized.”  The wealthy are not immune, as 43% of those earning over $250,000 report about half (46.565%) the time that they feel 67% overburdened with statistical knowledge, mostly (50.334%) financial information.  

Indeed, today there is almost nothing statisticians can’t quantify.  They tell us about our expected life-span (76.33 years), the average age at which women will have children (28 for wealthy women; 18 for poor women), the likelihood we’ll get a get disease (88%), and how likely we are to die.  (This is a tough one; no one alive today has really died, so the number should be 0% but that can’t be right.  If we measure the number of people who are alive compared to the number of people who ever lived but are dead, we get a number around 68% which still seems low.  It’s probably better to use the number of people recently alive during the normal life-span (73.63 years) and see what percentage of those are dead, giving us a likelihood of near 100% (96%) that we’ll eventually die.)

Still, statistics aren’t interesting to everyone. A recent Prospect Poll shows that almost 50% (1 of 2 respondents) don’t like statistics at all.  A 2011 Pew study showed that 42% of people don’t like statistics, 56% find them useful, while another 13% distrust them completely.

 \sigma = \sqrt{\operatorname{E}\left[(X - \mu)^2\right]}.
Formula for standard deviation.  If this wasn't a made-up
discipline someone would have noticed that
"standard" and "deviation" are mutually exclusive.

Mark Twain is famous for penning the phrase “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics,” but a 2006 Heritagous Foundation study found that 44% of statisticians don’t know what that means.  We do, though, it means we salute the army of grant writers, program managers, project coordinators, statisticians, public relations people and funders who, nearly (99.9%) every year amass a huge and largely (98%) useless gob of numbers that various and sundry (43% and 57%, respectively) weave into propaganda of startling variety to convince about 8% of us to believe or do as they wish.  A recent Mountain Messenger poll found that Don Russell agrees that you can’t really spin crap without numbers of some sort.  

Happy Stastistix day, 2010!

Note: in the spirit of the day, 102% of statistics cited were completely fabricated.  Also, World Statistics day was yesterday, 10-19-2010, which is largely today, within our margin of error.
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