Statistics are like Play-Doh. They can be molded and shaped to give us what we want or what we want others to believe. It’s a funny thing but it seems that whenever people hear ‘Statistics say…’ they automatically believe.
Decades ago I was part of a community council of sorts and we wanted the public to agree to let us spend a large amount of money. To stop any nay sayers from grabbing a foot hold, the public was reassured that to prove we needed to achieve what we wanted, we would hire an independent research company at great cost and they would prove or disprove our goal.
Well you know, if we pay somebody a LOT of money they must be worthy of our belief. We met with the company to describe the parameters of the research then at the end of the discussion they were told exactly the results we wanted. Oh my, surprise surprise. The results completely supported and justified what we were doing. Amazing huh?
You see the numbers are accurate and can be proven and depend entirely on what area or section you do your research. They can be skewed. Skewed is such an appropriate word. One needs to be knowledgeable enough about a situation to ask the right questions. That is the hard part. But I cringe at the thought of people believing because they believe the numbers are impartial.
So what is this about anyway?
Yesterday I became most agitated because I suddenly had a high cholesterol that the doctor said could not be controlled by diet and medication was the only route. Oh and that I currently had a one in three chance of having a stroke. (see there is the statistic). I was told in the beginning this was a possibility but of course it took a back seat to the business at hand.
So I spent a few hours muttering to myself about the side effect of medication I must take being more deadly than the disease, and that stats that say cancer is more survivable than previous (certain types) don’t count deaths from side effects of treatment. So if I expire from a stroke, no one is going to say cancer killed me. But technically it will have.
And it annoys me that say statistics predict say nine percent of this particular population will develop something resulting in death. Or that there is a one in fourteen million chance you will win the lottery.
I am telling you that for those people who die, or win the lottery the chances are not nine percent or one in fourteen million, they are one hundred percent.
Then I had a moment of reality. How dare I complain about my situation? It takes some nerve to bitch about something relatively small. I thought about someone dear to me who has never smoked in his life but is now tied to oxygen tanks to survive. I thought about my mini me cousin who went through exactly the same as I but much worse and is suffering from constantly painful side effects. I think about a dear one who at thirty eight is just beginning that long road with the Big C. I think of so many close to me who are suffering with things out of their control. When I think of those we loved and lost from cancer and they had no choice.
And I think to myself, “How dare you, who can walk, laugh and sing, moan when you want and truly live, having to accommodate one small pill, How Dare You?
So properly scolded, I apologized to the universe and to all whose own suffering I belittled in my own self pity.
I go off shortly to see our Auntie.