Statistics: They Can't Be Serious
By Geertjan on Apr 15, 2008
The evidence here is clear. These reporters had exactly the same statistics. But they interpreted them in completely opposite directions. On top of that, one even wonders if they read the same statistics because in the Dutch report, the line judges were right in 61% of cases, while in the Guardian the line judges were wrong in 40% of them. But... that's the same thing!!! Yet... interpreted in such a way that completely different meanings are rendered. To the Guardian, the statistics support John McEnroe's objections; to the Volkskrant, the statistics undermine them.
If there's one thing that these statistics prove, it is that it pays to be multilingual and it pays to read more than one newspaper. Especially when it comes to statistics. Still, it would be nice to know whether John McEnroe was mostly right or mostly wrong. At the time, I thought he was mostly wrong, but only because I was 12 at the time and assumed that authority has special access to truth. Since then, I've learned that that's really a pretty bad assumption. How cool would it be if history were to prove that John McEnroe had been right all along? Even though he probably never thought so himself and merely enjoyed throwing tantrums on TV?