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Stats Can Lie: Don’t Let Divorce Statistics Dictate Your Fate

I’ll bet you’ve heard at least one of these statistics about divorce, such as 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce and that more than 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce.

Every time I read stats like these divorce statistics, I’m reminded of a grad school buddy of mine, Cheng Ling. When I joined the research group, Cheng was one of the senior grad students. He’d been in the group for a couple of years and had a reputation for being a comedian.

One day after I’d been a part of the group for about a year, he walked into my office and asked what I was doing. I told him I was working on my statistics homework. He started laughing and told me that statistics were all lies. I assumed he was joking with me again, but he assured me he wasn’t and kept on laughing.

I was shocked! How could statistics be lies?

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Stats Can Lie: Don’t Let Divorce Statistics Dictate Your Fate

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  1. This is stupid. Just because they only have a sample of marriages, rather than every marriage in the country, doesn’t mean that the 50% statistic is inaccurate. In most cases, once you’ve asked 500,000 people about something, there’s little point asking another 500,000 people because they’ll say approximately the same thing within 1-2 percentage points.

    How many times do you EVER have full information? When you choose a hotel, do you ignore the reviews on TripAdvisor because only 500 people have rated the cleanliness as 1 star, but actually probably 10,000 people have been to that hotel but didn’t leave a review?

    Additionally, the statistic says that “50% of marriages end in divorce”, not “50% of marriages WILL end in divorce.” So it doesn’t demand that this statistic will be true into the future.



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