one man's journey into creating gibblybits

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lies, damn lies and statistics, or, 50% new content guaranteed

The past few weeks I've seen a terrible increase in fake stats. From OkCupid saying "iPhone users have more sex" to Brandwatch saying "Apple is the most reviled brand on the web" (well, I think the writer at Computerworld spun that one), we seem to be going further back to a time when marketing geniuses discovered the wonderful world of statistics. And how to blatantly lie with them.

Actually this was in vogue before, and I'd guess the moment the idea of a percentage or ratio was even devised people have used math to make their point, even if the real math didn't support their argument. You see, it's all too easy to lie with statistics because most people don't truly understand the stats they see. It's either a lack of education OR a lack of context. By lack of context I often mean "skewing one axis"...

Or, in the case of Wired's moronic "the web is dead" post, a crappy graph that essentially skews the results of web usage so bad that it makes a funhouse mirror look like an electron microscope. At times like this I'm glad the internet, despite being a place of great bullshit, also has some advanced Bullshit Detectors like BoingBoing, who "fixed" the Wired graph to accurately (more or less) reflect true web usage. Hey, guess what? The web isn't dead. Cue the sad trombone...

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