Arthur Nielsen gained his fame by rating TV shows and his quote is quite true with the exception of current TV and Internet news where I would need to add, ” Unless the darkness sells Advertising minutes.”
Any science news, particularly that supported with statistics must be looked at carefully when presented on the internet or TV news. Often incomplete information or cherry picking of facts or statements distort the true meaning of what was actually discovered. Too often now the science and stats we see on TV are the results of someone funding a project because they have a bone to pick ,a bone to bury or they wish to begin chewing on someone else’s bone. Citing of questionable studies and twisted surveys accompanied by meaningless stats and misleading charts is so common as to be endemic on the internet and TV news. A friend once told me that if you, ” massage the numbers long enough they will become your friend,” or conversely, ” if you torture the data long enough it will confess.”
Please do not accept anything incredible that you hear or see on TV or the Internet without further investigation. Apply Sagan’s advice that , ” Extraordinary claims require Extraordinary evidence” and always consider that although it may be true it also may not be correct as is illustrated by the story of the “Six blind men and the elephant,” by Saxe included at the end of this post.
War is ninety percent information.
A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding.
I never guess. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts – for support rather than for illumination.
Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.
Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.
The Blind Men and the Elephant
IT was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.
The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me!—but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”
The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried:”Ho!—what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ‘t is mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”
The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”
The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he;
” ‘T is clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”
The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”
The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”
And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!
So, oft in theologic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!