Polls, Damned Polls, and Statistics

Statistics have always been used to obscure the truth. There’s the famous quote by British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, and popularized by Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Sadly, nothing has changed. In fact, it’s gotten worse.

The problem is that statistics isn’t a popular subject, and many people happily avoid taking any classes that cover the topic. (It was affectionately known as “Sadistics” when I was in college.) We’re easily led astray by official-sounding numbers, especially if the conclusion is one we already agree with. While we (thankfully) don’t need to worry about Chebychev’s Rules, Probability Distribution Functions, or Stem and Leaf Diagrams, we should know how statistics work, and how they can be used to fool us. There are numerous ways in which statistics can be misleading. I ran into one of them while reading the news this week.

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Going to Hell in a Hand Basket?

Much of the grumbling I hear in the church has to do with the godless culture in which we live. Should we fear for the church? Is our culture really that godless? Consider…

Politicians of all persuasions feel free to corrupt the truth to their own ends. They routinely break the very laws they’re sworn to uphold; they use their positions of power to lord it over those who disagree with their policies.

As of last January our national debt exceeded $17,265,987,000,000.00—that’s approximately $54,379.00 per person. Can you afford to pay your share? Probably not—the average credit card debt is $15,799. That doesn’t include mortgages, car loans, student loans, etc. As the leaders lead, so the nation follows. (See Romans 13:8)

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Measuring God’s Approval Rating

I’ve been grumbling way too much lately. Whining. Complaining. I hadn’t even realized that I’d gotten into the habit until my long-suffering husband pointed it out. And when he did, I didn’t exactly feel a rush of appreciation—“Gee honey, you’re right, thank you so much for telling me that I’ve been a grouch.” Instead, I retreated to my wife-cave (hey, if men can have caves, why not women?) and sulked. I even complained to God about Pete’s remarks! Then, gently but firmly, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to what I’d been doing. Sheesh. How embarrassing.

In the Evangelical Hierarchy of Sins, complaining isn’t the worst offense. In fact, I doubt we’d put it in the top ten. But God has a different perspective.

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