Something that my father's stat professor
told him once upon a time. It is the corollary
to: Figures don't lie.
Of course figures don't lie; math
involves perfect logic. However this little phrase often reminds me to look twice at any statistical data that is shoved in front of my nose as "proof" of something. You see, statistical data can be gathered in any number of mischevious ways in order to slant the outcome. For instance:
Survey Guy Zero: Would you rather live near a forest filled with rodents and insects, or a new shopping center?
Survey Guy One: Would you rather preserve a natural habitat, or live near a dirty strip mall?
Both of these people will probably show up at the zoning board meeting with statistical data that strongly supports their point of view.
But it gets worse. People will take surveys in areas that they know will support their point of view, they will often do everything short of outright making figures up. I think most of us would be well advised to not take statistics as proof of anything.