Are Numbers Killing You?

Statistics are like bikinis.  What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital. --Aaron Levenstein stats This image has a double meaning.  Know what it is?

I told a coworker one of my ex-students had found a passion for freerunning. He turned to me, crinkled his brow, and said, "You can't make a living doing that."

I turned to him, crinkled my brow, and asked, "What if Tony Hawk came up to you and said he was going to make it big as a skateboarder. What would you say then?"

My coworker's response was interesting but represents the sentiment of most people. Would you say something like this?  "I'd tell him that the chances of making any living in that is very small. Maybe 5 out of 1000 people would make it," he said.

I don't know where he got that statistic, but his point was simple. There's so many people who'd want to make it in skateboarding that the chances are close to impossible.

The average human has one breast and one testicle.  --Des McHale

I told him that statistics mean nothing, that any reliance on those lies is a reliance on your ownlimitation.

He then countered with a really good counter. So good was his counter that I had to think hard in my counter to counter his counter. Are we counting how many times I used counter?

"Tony Hawk was lucky," he said.

I think if he said that to Hawk, he'd slap him. Hell. I'd slap him.

To say anyone is lucky does two things. One, the skill and hard work people put into their success means nothing. Two, people are powerless to live their lives. Take what you get, cuz you ain't gonna get any better.

To accomplish anything in life worth having, a person needs to take the first step. And many times it requires a sense of courage in the face of failure. There was a lot of talk in the nineties to the turn of the century about the fear of success. But that took away from the very real fear of failure.

Torture numbers, and they'll confess to anything.  --Gregg Easterbrook

And when you rely on statistics, which can be manipulated to represent anything that anyone wants, you give your power away to live your life the way you want.

This is the basic choice of my hero's journey in my book. Does he let someone else determine his life and the lives of his province? Or does he choose to fight for a life of freedom?

Ultimately, we all have to choose. Too often I see people choosing the "easy" way out, like relying on stats so they don't have to go out and follow their passions. Follow your passions, for they may lead to great things.

Say you were standing with one foot in the oven and one foot in an ice bucket.  According to the percentage people, you should be perfectly comfortable.  --Bobby Bragan, 1963