You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

This is a very famous line spoken by the character Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride. Statistics used in public debate and research often have a similar difficulty: a statistic may not mean what some people think it means.

This article will consider a few examples.

‘Most children in poverty are in working families’

This is a statistic commonly cited in response to Government ministers and…