Statistics are the Results of Human Action

. . . according to today’s Cafe Hayek “Quotations of the Day”. The first quotation is from pages 26-27 of Joel Best’s superb 2001 book, Damned Lies and Statistics:

The lesson should be clear: statistics – even official statistics such as crime rates, unemployment rates, and census counts – are products of social activity.  We sometimes talk about statistics as though they are facts that simply exist, like rocks, completely independent of people, and that people gather statistics much as rock collectors pick up stones.  This is wrong.  All statistics are created through people’s actions: people have to decide what to count and how to count it, people have to do the counting and the other calculations, and people have to interpret the resulting statistics, to decide what the numbers mean.  All statistics are social products, the results of people’s efforts.

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