“There are three kinds of lies….”
“Statistics don’t lie but liars use statistics.”
“Statistics are like bikinis….”
There’s no doubt that Statistics needs a makeover. The problem is that for upwards of 100 years people have confused lower-case “s” statistics with Statistics as a legitimate and powerful science. Lower-case “s” statistics are numbers that people pull from anywhere and nowhere using them as a bludgeon to win arguments. Upper-case “S” Statistics could be defined as the science of using all available data to make decisions in the face of uncertainty. The latter was hardly a twinkle in the eye of Sir Ronald Fisher when Samuel Clemens was said to have described the three kinds of lies. And it would be over a century before modern computing would provide a way to take advantage of an even more complete Statistical theory. It may take a generation to reclaim the word, but it will never happen if Statisticians don’t realize that the jokes are not about them.