Statistics never lie…That’s the first lie

March 2nd, 2014
Years ago the Wall Street Journal ran an ad campaign referring to itself as the “Daily Diary of the American Dream.”  Today, we might say that the barrage of statistical information we get about the economy is that kind of diary.  Just this morning, we probably all heard the latest GDP numbers.  

But what does it mean and what problem is it solving?  Sometimes it seems there is a kind of “uncertainty principle” at work. In that the process of trying to measure every aspect of the economy and even our politics, actually changes those numbers because it changes the way we see the world.  And since perception is often reality, the daily recitation of these numbers from Washington and Wall Street actually creates its own unreal reality.

Zachary Karabell in his new book  The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World gives us a random walk though these numbers that often rule our lives, but mean very little.

My conversation with Zachery Karabell:

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