What is your elevator pitch?

First of all: What is an elevator pitch? Luckily the blog challenge team explains their questions always a bit more and they say that an elevator pitch is everything that you get excited about, the “fun stuff in your life” as they call it.

So far so good, so what is it now, my elevator pitch? When I think about the fun stuff in my life, one thing immediately pops up in my head (I guess that’s a good sign that I found my elevator pitch). I really like to think about statistics. Reading, Analyzing, Creating. Everything you can do with it.

As a kid I liked to play “Top Trumps” (Wikipedia) and soon wanted to find out which one is the best card, so I created a league system and let the cards play against each other by comparing every value with each other and thus the card with the most points wins. Later I used the data to draw some graphs to make the result more clear (the problem was that I drew very small and thus nobody could see a lot). These were my first experiences with statistics and drawing the results. By the way, I was very disappointed with my results, because it turned out that of all the different “Top Trumps”-games I had, there were only a few which didn’t have a card, that won all the games (pretty unfair, isn’t it?).

I got interested in analyzing and reading statistics after reading the book “Lügen mit Zahlen: Wie wir mit Statistiken manipuliert werden” by Bosbach and Korff (2011). The authors show how you can manipulate people by making statistics and changing them a little, so they don’t get wrong but also loose some of their unwanted truth. For example (I got it from the book) let’s look at two politicians fighting for your vote. The first one tells you that in the past, while he was governing, the number of teachers working in schools grew by let’s say 100. The second one tells, that during his reign the government hired 300 new teachers. Based on these information, whom would you give your vote?

Well would you change your mind, if I told you that during the reign of the second politician there were also 350 teachers loosing their jobs? As you can see by leaving out the bad numbers, one can create very beautiful numbers and thus creating a falsely positive image about something not that shiny, and one doesn’t even have to lie. There are a lot more tricks shown in the books and they made me aware of manipulative statistics in newspaper, voting campaigns, advertisement and such. I recognized the tricks of the book very often and thus believing the sources less.

Since statistics surround us everywhere in our daily life and not few of them have been made more beautiful and manipulated, I found it very helpful for me to filter out some of the wrong images and trying to get to the real information by just looking at the real numbers.