Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Newsflash: People who badger you with statistics are usually trying to sell you something

Lovely little spot of rudeness on Dealbreaker yesterday in response to a dire pronouncement.

Dealbreaker: Jeremy Grantham: RUN FOR YOUR LIVES

Are you presently working for a hedge fund or major bank? May Jeremey Grantham, chairman of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. (via us) suggest that you get the hell out of there, because most of you are going to die anyway? That’s right, Dealbreakettes, according to Grantham, credit-market declines are going to force “as many as half”-- half, 50%, 1 of every 2-- of all hedge funds to close in the next five years. Last year 717 hedge funds closed, leaving 9,800 in business. Ergo, FOUR THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED of you are soon to be history (we did the math). Oh, and at least one global bank (gut instinct: Goldman Sachs) and “one or two” of the largest private equity firms, because those assholes have it coming. Grantham can make such apocalyptic forecasts for 2012 because he is 68, and may very well be dead by then. Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co will survive, presumably.

Not to swing too hard from Nassim Taleb's nuts or anything, but I get a kick out of these wildly doom n gloom pronouncements from pundits who are, in fact, totally full of crap.

As it happens, I've conducted extensive research, analysis and modelling that indicates that 88% of pundits, 94% of tv talking heads, and 173% of bloggers pretty much just make up wild-ass statistics to get attention for themselves.

My favorite dumbass stat was from the researchers who (just in time for the 2004 Olympics) plotted the improvements in the 100M sprint among male and female sprinters and deduced that at the current rate, women would be running the 100M faster than men by 2036, or some such. Oddly enough, they didn't trumpet how if you followed their models all the way down the line, both men and women would be running a 100M sprint in 0.0000 seconds by 2287 AD, at the latest.


On the bright side, there's a lot of sensible talk in the comments section.

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junger said...

I was always told that 42.7% of statistics are made up.

Lee_D said...

I think that +/- 8% and you are probably in the ballpark.

This deserves further study, probably by the researchers who determined that Vegans don't like having sex with Carnivores, or that Goverment money doesn't always go to pay for the services it's allocated for.

Anonymous said...

those weren't dealbreaker's stats, they were Jeremy's.