Why Statisticians Get It Wrong

It may surprise you to know that I am not a big fan of statistics. If you put a big table of facts and figures in front of me, my head starts to spin and a small bead of foam is likely to form in the corner of my mouth. I am greatly pleased that, in spite of the best efforts of the likes of shadowy-named companies like “Pro-Zone” and “Opta”, football is still a game that can be enjoyed without having to have a reference book by one’s side (for the purposes of elucidation, I should point at that, for writing this blog, I keep a copy of the complete Football League tables and Simon Inglis’ still magnificent “The Football Grounds Of Great Britain” by my side – anything else is, frankly, superfluous) or an encyclopaedic amount of knowledge. I can only imagine how, say, an American getting into baseball for the first time copes with the telephone directory sized books which accompany that particular sport. The work of statisticians is valuable for the purposes of archiving, but occasionally they wander into the realms of opinion, and suddenly all hell breaks loose. This is because the usual work of the statistician is concerned with absolutes – there is no question, for example, that Liverpool are the winners of the most League championships, for example, because, well, they have...

Read More