Mark Twain once said, "Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable." On the Language Log, Mark Liberman proves Twain's point, showing that the same sets of numbers can be used to prove two propositions:
- Only 28% of those asked were able to name more than one of the First Amendment freedoms, yet 52% could name at least two members of Bart Simpson's family. (Americans know the Simpsons better than they know the Constitution.)
- 73% can name a First Amendment freedom, but only 65% can name a Simpson. (Americans know the Constitution better than they know the Simpsons.)
Evan Esar once defined statistics as "The only science that enables different experts using the same figures to draw different conclusions." Yep.