Monday, May 28, 2012

Bon mot for the week

"Three minutes' thought would suffice to find this out, but thought is irksome and three minutes is a long time."

A.E. Housman (1859-1936)

I think of this whenever I encounter someone uncritically swallowing some goofy statistic like this.

1 comment:

FOARP said...

IT and IP are both rife with this kind of sloppy thinking. In IT people talk glibbly of "the next 1 billion". In IP people uncritically accept the number of patents filed in Japan as indicative of what a creative country Japan is (tip: it isn't). I regularly sit through presentations which contain stats which are obviously wrong/misleading/misused, I point out that the figures are impossible/unlikely but get fobbed of with talk of how it is a "high-level study" (which appears to be code for "half-arsed job"). I also often get asked to generate this kind of data myself - I always add in caviats, but these are always elided in the final product.