I Want to Be a Statistic–Sometimes
Posted by languageandgrammar on April 23, 2008
A statistic is a numerical value or fact or an inanimate numerical representation of a piece of information. Examples include 53% of the the vote, $3.59 cents per gallon, a .309 batting average, and 63% of all bananas that my co-worker brings to the office do not meet the limited ripeness standard necessary for him to enjoy eating them.
Being inanimate, of course, means that the numbers, themselves, are neither good nor bad, but we often interpret them to be something that is either positive or negative. The commonly used (euphamism for used with annoying regularity) expression I don’t want to be a statistic typically refers to something tragic, often a death statistic. Not only is that morbid, but it doesn’t make much sense to me.
I’m going to be the bigger language expert and look past the lack of logic of being a statistic (it’s not possible for a person to be a numerical representation of fact) and discuss only the lack of logic of focusing on negative statistics. I can think of a couple of statistics that I would be happy to have represent me–100% forecast accuracy (I’m a meteorologist, remember) and 1,000,000 books sold (and a writer).
There are times that I’d love to be a statistic.
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