Numbers Don’t Lie (IDIOMS AND PROVERBS)
All my life, people have been telling me that numbers don’t lie. As true as this is, numbers in themselves neither tell lies nor tell the truth.
Instead, they are used to hide the truth or misconstrue facts.
When we see statistics and figures quoted, we often fail to ask what the intention of the writer is. Some people knowing full well that they will not be fact-checked simply quote numbers out of the thin air.
Claiming that 50 or 25 percent of people did something or believe something, makes the statement more believable. But who did the survey? How many people were questioned? Who kept tabs on what happened? How did we come about the number?
There are times when the right figures are actually quoted, but the numbers don’t tell the story.
If you hear that 1000 units of table water are sold daily, that is a fact. But it doesn’t tell you what was done with each bottle after purchase.
You also don’t know if one person bought all 1000 bottles, or if 50 people shared one bottle.
When a governor announces that he has built 10 roads totaling 350 kilometers, at the rate of 5 million Naira per kilometer, no one asks how many people use that road daily. Nor where does the road lead to and what economic benefit it serves.
They also won’t tell us that the road was chosen ahead of 7 schools. Or that the cost of that road is why the doctors’ salary won’t be paid for the next six months.
Truly, the numbers did not lie, but they didn’t give us a full picture of the situation.
When people start banding numbers around, you need to ask the right questions. Even if the right number is being given, its purpose must be right too.
More importantly, accompanying numbers, variables, opportunity cost, alternatives, sacrifices, and consequences must be properly detailed out.
Numbers don’t lie, but it doesn’t tell the full truth either. Don’t be ignorant and don’t be deceived.
By the way, try and verify the numbers yourself.