Lies lies and damned statistics!

As I read the recent report that sledge sales had increased by 600% I was reminded again just how dangerous statistics can be for the inexperienced.  You see, when I read stats like that my mind instantly fills with questions like:

Over what period
In comparison with which period
Are measurements like-for-like (before and after)

Maybe I’m unusual – stats do represent a big chunk of my work after all, but lets’ face it, we all discredit statistics on a daily basis because they raise questions in our own minds.

You could say that it makes no difference, it’s a big positive figure that is useful PR, however, sometimes those big positive figures can do as much damage as good, particularly to a reputation.

The reality is that the 600% increase in sledge sales reported was in comparison with the previous month when we were experiencing milder than average temperatures with no snow on the horizon – hardly surprising then.

Consumers and business associates are canny, they see through nonsense statistics and quite frankly, the damned lies.

DIY research is often the birthplace of these kinds of stats because they aren’t sense checked through experience, understanding and in context.  It’s the human element that has been largely underestimated in the drive towards Big Data and maximising customer, that is actually one of the most important.

Lisa Holt

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