25% of Statistics are Made Up

25% of Statistics are Made up on the spot.

Is that statement true? Maybe, I could be part of the 25% I guess.

Numbers are great. They are logical and clinical.

They also lie, oversimplify and distract.

For example:

  • 1 in 10 people are colour blind
  • 90% of people can see colour just fine

Two messages from the same set of numbers which read very differently. Neither of which is actually true by the way.

We use numbers to draw attention to the significant issues in our world, and even if they are factually correct, it isn’t working. By themselves, numbers don’t work.

I could tell you that Opportunity International Australia is helping over 6 million families to work their way out of poverty through the power of a small loan, or I could tell you about Shoba…

Shoba, a wife and mother in India, was already living in poverty when her husband got sick.

They were unable to afford the medicine for her husband’s condition, so she borrowed from a money lender to get her husband the help he needed.

Sadly, he died.

In time, the money lender came to get what they were owed – which was now significantly more than the amount borrowed. Shoba did not have the money to pay.

The lender took both of her young sons to work off the debt by manual labour at a quarry.

Nobody should have to live like that, facing an impossible decision between critical healthcare and losing children to slave labour.

Shoba heard about the small loans available through Opportunity. She borrowed USD50 and bought some carving tools and supplies. Shoba hand carved wood into elephants which she sold by the roadside.

Using the money she earned to redeem her sons, Shoba was also able repay her Opportunity loan and build a better life for her family.

Breaking the cycle of poverty takes a lot of courage.

Making a donation is the easy part!

Opportunity has six million other stories like that. Stories that say more than statistics ever could, even if they aren’t made up.

Stories with true statistics will tell the whole story.

Unsolvable

Meet George*.

May or may not be George. Looks like a George. How do you know it’s not George?

George was a university student running late for a statistics class. Not wanting to interrupt when he arrived, he copied down the two problems that were put up on the board as homework.

It took him a bit longer to work through the problems as they were a little harder than usual, but he completed them, apologising to his professor for the delay in getting his homework completed.

But the two problems were not homework. They were famously unsolved statistical problems. George Dantzig had revolutionised the statistical world, solving the unsolvable. There is no doubt that he was incredibly intelligent, but it wasn’t just his intelligence that solved it but also how he approached the problems as something that could be solved. His search for an answer was not clouded by thoughts that people had already tried and failed.

How we think about problems and challenges in our lives directly impacts our ability to work them out.

Just because something doesn’t appear to have a solution, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t one. It just means it hasn’t been found it yet.

What is currently unsolvable to you? What if it could be? What would that look like?