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This points to a bigger, a more fundamental problem. I don’t know what exactly Twain was thinking when he talked about “lies, damn lies and statististics” (and stuck it on Disraeli) but the danger from misleading use of statistics is that it is always based on “truth,” except filtered and reformatted in an undesirable and biased fashion. As the saying in Macbeth goes, statistics can be the “equivocation of the Fiend that lies like the truth,” or rather, that lies with the truth. Appreciating how statistics can be abused requires a deeper understanding of the data that goes beyond algorithms. As it were, though, I think we are too much in love with algorithms to think about the data, at least for now.

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