Friday 26 February 2010

Struggling with the numbers

In one of the places that I've worked over the years, I remember a colleague preparing a business case in which he claimed that costs could be "reduced by over 100%". The case was rejected, naturally. Some people like numbers; others struggle with them.

The Tory candidate locally seems to have a particular problem with numbers. There was the time when he argued that 1 was a larger number than 7, of course. And then there was the leaflet in which he claimed that violent crime had increased by 53% - a statistic for which his party was rebuked by the UK Statistics Authority.

His response when I suggested that the leaflet concerned was misleading, since it tried to give the impression of being an official communication, was to claim that it was in fact "150% clear". Hmmm. Some of the best letters to newspapers are those that communicate their message in a single sentence – and that particular claim by the Tories produced this superb response in the Western Telegraph.

"The fact that Simon Hart believes his canvassing leaflet to be ‘150% clear’ more than adequately indicates how seriously we should take the other statistics contained within it."

Says it all, really.

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