Lies, Damn Lies, and- well, you know
Well before the birth of the computer, Mark Twain never knew how right he was:
Could someone please explain the Mark Twain reference?
Lies, damn lies and statistics.
- Mark Twain
Commonly attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, however.
@Ilya Ehrenburg said:
More correctly attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, however.
FTFY. Maybe it's just because I'm an American, but I've heard it attributed to Mark Twain hundreds of times. This is the first I've heard of Mr. Disraeli.
Maybe it's just because I'm an American, but I've heard it attributed
to Mark Twain hundreds of times. This is the first I've heard of Mr.
I think it's not just American vs. other, it's rather that Mr. Twain is far better known than Mr. Disraeli. I've read it attributed to Churchill (who actually made some other famous remark about statistics), G.B. Shaw (who may or may not have made a quip about statistics), Lenin (!!), Mark Twain and Disraeli, most often to one of the last two.
Since Mark Twain is famous, highly regarded, and the quote's tone fits his style, once the misattribution is in the world, it's bound to stay.
Twain popularised the saying in "Chapters from My Autobiography", published in the North American Review, No. DCXVIII., July 5, 1907.
"Figures often beguile me," he wrote, "particularly when I have the
arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to
Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: 'There are three
kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'"
So attributing it to Mark Twain is certainly a mistake, but the attribution to Disraeli is doubtful, too, the phrase may have been around before he quoted it.