I have written not long ago about certain phrases I hate to hear:

  • There’s nothing I can do about it.
  • It couldn’t happen here.
  • I can’t afford it.

Well here’s another one in popular use:

“Statistics prove…”

In reality, statistics only very rarely prove anything.  There is almost always room for doubt or for a different interpretation of the facts and/or figures.

What would be more appropriate in most cases would be:

  • “Statistics indicate…”
  • “Statistics show…”
  • “This view is supported by statistics.”

Now, I do not mean to be too pedantic, but words do have meanings.  Proof means something very specific in Law or in Science and it should not be watered down or else people will not take you seriously when you really do have proof of something.

I fully agree with George Orwell, who, in his book  “1984” shows how a totalitarian state would want to devalue words to reduce their power to criticise or seriously debate issues the authorities want to keep muddled.

For more on the misuse of statistics see my book How to Avoid Being Misled by Statistics or go to