How to Read Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

By Dana Grinshpan

September 11, 2012

Notes from the Research Desk highlights the best practices, salient data and emergent perspectives uncovered by the Government Business Council’s (GBC) team. Each week, Research Manager Dana Grinshpan will share the discoveries most important to federal managers. 

The 19th century British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, was the first quoted as saying, “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics”. His point? Anyone can use statistics to prove just about anything. Because statistics have a bad reputation, due to their penchant for misuse, it’s important federal managers be savvy consumers of numbers.

As the GBC’s Research Manager, I am responsible for designing survey instruments that yield statistics and my analysts are responsible for discussing these statistics in our reports. Therefore, one of my most important responsibilities is ensuring the numbers we publish are factual and easily understood. With inspiration from Joel Best, author of Best Damned Lies and Statistics, here are a few tips to help you sort out fact, fiction and spin:

What tips help you avoid getting bamboozled by slick statistics?

(Image via Prosotphoto/Shutterstock.com)


By Dana Grinshpan

September 11, 2012

http://www.govexec.com/excellence/promising-practices/2012/09/how-read-lies-damned-lies-and-statistics/57993/