It was either the famous writer Mark Twain or the 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who said: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
This saying means that statistics can be used for very wrong purposes and the persuasive power of numbers can assist to strengthen weak arguments.
As long ago as 1889, Carroll D. Wright (a prominent statistician) said, “The old saying is that ‘figures will not lie,’ but a new saying is ‘liars will figure’.”
This collection of statistics quotes tries to show the opposite and make the point that statistics are connected to science. Statistics are not there to pervert the truth in the interests of a theory somebody wishes to establish.
The quotes are sorted in chronological order by the birth date of the author. Enjoy!
we may judge of the whole piece.
Miguel de Cervantes, from his novel “Don Quixote”
(1547-1616; Spanish novelist, poet and playwright)
Henry Clay, Sr.
(1777-1852, American lawyer, politician and skilled orator)
than those using no data at all.
(1791-1871, English polymath, inventor and mechanical engineer)
than a single life,
nothing is more certain
than the average duration of a thousand lives.
(1804-1885, American mathematician,
“father of life insurance” for his pioneering work on actuarial tables)
but statistics are pliable.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens,
better known by his pen name Mark Twain
(1835-1910, American author and humourist)