Statisticisation

Thanks Andy for your essay on statistics.

During the industrial revolution in the 19th century, people were concentrated in towns often near factories. To entertain themselves, the new urban classes gambled on horse races, on sport, on anything really.
In order to calculate the odds of a horse winning (say) required a knowledge of probability and therefore statistics.

Well, that’s my take on how statistics evolved under capitalism.

andypaine

“There are three types of lies,” the old saying goes: “lies, damned lies, and statistics”. Learning to distrust the supposedly simple mathematical truths of statistics is an essential survival mechanism for navigating our way through advertising promises and endless conflicting reports.

And yet I feel like over the years I’ve seen statistics becoming more and more prominent in our culture, taking on influence where once they seemingly had no relevance.

One of those areas is sport. American sports always loved statistics, and cricket by its bizarre nature always lent itself uniquely to mathematical analysis. But in recent years this has been taken to newheights – each year the television coverage boasts of some elaborate new way of crunching numbers. Popular website cricinfo has a regular feature of statistical analysis so detailed it has to be seen to be believed.

Other sports too have seemingly become obsessed with stats – soccer…

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