Lies, damned lies, and statistics  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics" is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments. It is also sometimes colloquially used to doubt statistics used to prove an opponent's point.

The phrase derives from the full sentence, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."; it was popularized in the United States by Mark Twain and others, who mistakenly attributed it to the British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli. The phrase was attributed to an anonymous writer in mid-1891 and later that year to Sir Charles Dilke, but several others have been listed as originators of the quote, including frequent erroneous attribution to Twain himself.

Popular culture

  • "Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics" is the name of episode 21 in the first season of NBC drama The West Wing.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Lies, damned lies, and statistics" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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