“Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.’ “
- Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Review (see footnote)
Statisticians and number junkies will be interested to know of a couple of digital milestones the blog passed this week.
The blog had it 40,000th page view since its inception in August 2010. Nearly 900 of those were views of the Jan. 28, 2011 post entitled “Desert Sunrise” (http://allevenson.wordpress.com/the-journal/desert-sunriseescapees/) . The next most searched-on posts—500-600 hits apiece–were “Montezuma’s Castle” (http://allevenson.wordpress.com/places/montezumas-castle/) , the “RV Travelers’ Bucket List” (http://allevenson.wordpress.com/rv-travelers-bucket-list/) , and “The Steinbeck Center” (http://allevenson.wordpress.com/places/the-national-steinbeck-center/) . These are early posts, which may have accumulated their hits from researching net surfers. The most popular post of the last 90 days is the “Reverse Bucket List” (http://allevenson.wordpress.com/the-reverse-bucket-list/).
New posts get about 100 hits in the first 24 hours.
To me the most affirming statistic is the number of comments. This, too, crossed a milestone and stands at 2004 at this moment. Regular passengers know the most durable commentators are a pair of Midwestern women, Colleen and Karen, followed, at a respectful distance, by a pair of Californian Daves. The comments enhance the blog with a layer of richness and frosting of nuance everyone is grateful for.
The opening quotation is attributed to http://www.twainquotes.com/Statistics.html which goes on to say:
Further background on this quote is provided by Stephen Goranson, who writes on the Mark Twain Forum in a post dated 31 July 2002: Twain’s Autobiography attribution of a remark about lies and statistics to Disraeli is generally not accepted. Evidence is now available to conclude that the phrase originally appeared in 1895 in an article by Leonard H. Courtney. So Disraeli is not the source, nor is any pre-1895 person; merely Courtney. The 1895 article is now available online at: http://www.york.ac.uk/depts/maths/histstat/lies.htm Courtney may have read Carlyle on statistics (also quoted at this site); certainly, misuse of statistics was complained about before 1895.