Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Other 99 Percent

This is not about the Occupy movement.  This is about statistics, a la Jon Kyle.

If you recall, Kyle made a stunning statistical assertion on the Senate floor:

When confronted about this grossly false statement, Kyle's spokesperson asserted that that "was not intended to be a factual statement."

I was reminded of this hilarity when our library director told a department heads' meeting that "99 percent of [this year's staff evaluations] were good and honest."  This after he had instructed all supervisors to lower all ratings.  Including ratings on promptness and attendance, which one would think could be quantified.

So I would like to caution all y'all about people throwing out numbers.  Most of the time they are totally full of shit.  The best calculations are rarely carved in stone; they are approximations and ranges.

When politicians and people in power throw out big percentages that happen to work in their favor, one can only assume they are lying.  The only sensible response to a statement like Kyle's is to answer in kind, as did Colbert on Twitter .

So to our library director, I would like to say,

Doug Henderson drinks a large vodka and chocolate sauce for breakfast each morning.  That is not intended to be a factual statement.

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