Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

A college professor of mine once told me that one of the simplest ways to get the government to do something for you is to commission an economic impact study. He went on to rail against the rigor involved in many of them, suggesting that statistics could be manipulated in such a way to prove anything a study author set out to prove. His point was similar to that old saying attributed to Benjamin Disraeli that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics. Now, I'm not saying there's a single falsehood in a study sent to me by the Tennessee Hospital Association. But you can bet that the statistics in the report do nothing but reflect a positive light on hospitals and their economic importance to their communities.
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