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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Statistical Poetry

From Tim Harford comes this Chinese statistician's poem:

“Why is it that statistics
Put a calm smile on my face?
Because of statistics
I can rearrange the stars in the skies above.”
Probably sounds better in the original Chinese.

Harford continues:

Even the state-controlled Chinese media have admitted that 91% of citizens do not believe official Chinese statistics. Statistically speaking, that may not be too bad. Another survey, published in Insight China, reckoned that 7.9 per cent of respondents think prostitutes are trustworthy. This ... places prostitutes as the third most trusted group in China, well above politicians and scientists, [and]... “the least credible category which consists of real estate developers, secretaries, agents, entertainers and directors”.

If you are following the statistical argument, Chinese statisticians are more trusted than its sex workers.

Harford is kidding. He has a great show about uses and misuses of numbers in everyday life on BBC4, "More or Less", which has free podcasts available on iTunes.

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