In war, according to the ancient Greek dramatist Aeschylus, truth is the first casualty. Plainly, he had not foreseen the Brexit referendum campaign which continues to be dogged by blatant abuse of statistics. As explained in a previous blog, all sides are at it, coming up with spuriously precise figures, using the wrong concepts and definitions, or mixing up sources in a manner that amounts to comparing apples with oranges. Although some data on the UK and the EU can be difficult to understand or interpret correctly, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the desire to mislead trumps any doubts about accuracy. This contribution looks at three recent examples, all of which illustrate how easy it is for misleading statistics to become accepted facts.
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