Don’t Trust the Statistics. They’re Lying to You

You ever notice how some people just seem to be full of numbers and feel the need to throw them at you at every opportunity they chartget? When I got engaged, I had the pleasure of being showered with words of support, tons of advice, and lots of statistics. They all sounded a little something like this:

“You’re engaged?! I hope it works out. Did you know 50 percent of marriages end in divorce?”

“But you’re so young! The younger you are, the more likely you are to get divorced!”

“You plan to live together before you get married? You know couples who co-habitat are more likely to get divorced.” 

Rather than trying to figure out who was genuinely supportive of our union and who secretly longed for our demise based on their comments, we chose to ignore them all. We knew that suddenly everybody becomes an expert on marriage or weddings once an engagement is announced.

I’m pretty sure, everyone has heard their share of these comments once or twice during their engagement. And I’m willing to bet that like my husband and I, you didn’t give those negative comments any weight either. You probably found it much easier to ignore them then overanalyze these random statistics. Why?  Because you were sure of your decision to get married. If you hadn’t been sure about taking the steps, you probably wouldn’t have accepted the engagement.Like my husband and I, you probably  recognized that no matter how legitimate the statistics seemed they would always be about other people.  So if it’s that easy for you to ignore the statistics about divorce and marriage, why is it difficult for so many to ignore the stats about future career decisions or lifestyle choices?

The difference is faith. It’s easy to ignore the naysayers when you trust your abilities. The minute the faith is gone, the doubt settles in. You forget that statistics will always be about other people. Sure, the stats say nine out of ten restaurants fail in the first year of business. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t open your restaurant and yours doesn’t have the potential to be a success. It means you have to believe in yourself even more and truly be dedicated to studying your trade.

What people forget is that statistics aren’t meant to deter to you from your goals (unless they are delivered from an enemy with ill will.) They are meant to offer guidance and insight when attempting to reach your goals. Yet, too many people take these statistics for gold and think they are all knowing in regards to their personal success rate. Had I listened to all those stats about writers being starving artists, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Instead of succumbing to the fate of the dreadful statistic, ask yourself why it’s so easy for you to fall for it and give up. It could be because you are putting too much faith in the statistic and not enough faith in yourself. Remember, statistics may be true about other people, but it could be lying when it comes to you.

 Do you usually put a lot of stock in statistics? How do you decide when they should be ignored?

TERRIfic Quip: Opportunities multiply as they are seized.

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  1. I agree with you 100%. The stat about marriages may be about actual numbers, but I don’t believe it is a true statistic. Some of the same people keep having failed marriages (to different people) and drive the numbers up while successful marriages can only get counted once in a lifetime. Many other stats are the same way. You have to analize the data, not just chart it and say there it is. Good points.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Peter. People also seem to forget that statistics can always be twisted. They can always be changed to sound more favorable than they actually are or vice versa. And like you said, people fail to research what is driving these statistics. Regardless, I still like knowing that those statistics won’t have any reflection on my success rate as they will always be about other people.

  2. There are three types of lies – Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

    I think what really needs to be done, though, is to put statistics in perspective, and analyse HOW the statistics were gathered, and under what conditions, before coming to a concrete decision.

    That being said, I DO think that in most cases, statistics can be a great guide of things to do or not to do. You just have to know how to interpret them properly.



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