Lies, damn lies and statistics

Lies, damn lies and statistics.

Today it seems that more than ever we are surrounded by these three things. We tell small lies to our children life will be good, nothing disastrous will happen, the world is a safe place, when all of us as parents are merely mouthing these words with our fingers crossed behind our backs. We tell lies to our partners to protect their ego in that too-tight pair of pants or the dreadful fashion choice. But our motives are usually good.

Then we are confronted with deliberate damn lies and fake news, the motives never pure or good. This is the part where politicians, among the many of us, twist the truth, malign their opponents and make outrageous statements to appeal to their support base. When a president of the Free World resorts to obfuscation, half-truths and downright lies, then the world should be not just shaking its head, it should be fearful.

Finally, sadly, the statistics part of this reflection comes to the fore. The original quote about there being ‘three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics’ was meant to be a criticism of how people use statistics for their own ends, to often distort and present a warped view of reality. However, no matter that we might not feel old, act old or even look old, the statistics in this case do not lie. The vast majority of deaths by COVID-19 are in those people aged 60 and above. We are targeted by our biology and labelled by the media, all without our consent.

In our pandemic world, it seems clear to me that behaviours and perceptions will change. I fear that our society will become fragmented into those who see themselves as old and the young who will always see themselves as invincible. As the community tries to reopen and return to some sort of new normal, the young will kickstart the economy again and complain that footy crowds can’t return yet and why aren’t they allowed to hold rock concerts with vast crowds? But spare a thought for the older generation who will be left to sit on the margins of the community, not going out as much, avoiding the things they used to enjoy and being ever watchful, ever vigilant. Perhaps not outright scared but certainly concerned.

Let’s hope there is a vaccine soon.

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