Election 2013: Lies, damned lies, and statistics

A leading statistician claims that the vast number of statistics spruiked by politicians may well be based on lies, and some of those may in fact be “damned lies”.

Australia votes in the hottest election in years

Australia votes in the hottest election in years

Cecil Mann-Whitney, CEO of Inferential Distribution Ltd has published a report which details just how inaccurate most statistics are.

“In all significance, I may have just caused some serious regression in the world of political reporting,” says Mann-Whitney.

“With an upcoming federal election, it is a good idea to read the fine print very carefully. It doesn’t take a null hypothesis to figure that out. Some of the claims being reported are completely meaningless.”

Australian political parties have come under increasing scrutiny around published data and promises, with services such as Politifact gaining popularity amongst highly credible news organisations such as Fairfax Media.

“I sampled one statistic from each of the three major parties and found that two thirds of them used an inappropriately small sample size. From that we can obviously extrapolate an infinitely wide spread problem.”

“However, people may take comfort in the fact that my calculations suggest that the chances of a politician telling the truth is around the same as it has always been.”

“Is the federal election a done deal? Ask anyone who has ever won the lotto, with odds of eight million to one against.”

Australia goes to the polls on 7 September 2013, with a vast majority of Australians expected to vote.