Lies, damn lies and the other kind of statistics

I just saw two items as I was glancing down the headlines in my news reader.

“Google’s Android becomes the world’s leading smart phone platform,” says the headline on the press release from a company conducting research that claims Google’s open source mobile operating system was on 33.3% of the smart phones shipped in the 4th quarter of 2010.

“Apple’s 4% mobile market share rakes in over half the industry’s profit,says the headline on a blog post about another mobile phone industry research that focuses on “profitability.” Wow! Only 4% of mobile phones have Apple’s iOS operating system on them, but they account for over 50% of the industry’s profit. Gee, that also sounds like something that would be leading.

I have no reason to believe if either  of these items are accurate. Frankly, I doubt either  is.

Nonetheless, when paired, they demonstrate a point I’ve tried to make here time and again: Never believe any statistic, unless it confirms what you already believe.*

*For readers unfamiliar with this blog, that was said in jest.