Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Truth, Lies and Mathematics

Ever since I had Ms. Scolnic in grade 11, I have hated math (those of you who went to York Mills CI in Toronto know what I am talking about here). And yet, my career has been filled with having to understand, work with and yes, even manipulate numbers.

Back in the day, I did a study for the implementation of environmental assessment in Greece for the EU and got to assess over 50 cost benefit analysis models. The reason I never pulled my hair out was that I realized that math had nothing to do with it. In fact, most of the time I was reading very well constructed fiction that expressed itself in numbers.

Found through askthevc, Scott Maxwell gives his 10 best ways to lie with metrics. My top 3 of his top 10:

- Gather a lot of metrics and then only present the metrics that are positive
- Use extremely precise numbers
- Hire a graphic designer to turn your metrics into really good looking charts


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