Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Research shows that 87% of quoted statistics are made up on the spot.  (Yes, I just made that up.)

I’m also guessing that a good 92% of readers believe the title of this post was borrowed from Mark Twain, but according to Wikipedia nobody really knows where it originated.  (Which is good; because thanks to that Wikipedia article, I now estimate that my chances of being accused of improper citation are approximately 0.003%.)

So… it’s that time of the year again.  Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you probably suffer the fallout of the season anyway.  So just for fun, I’m going to make up some Christmas statistics.

Of the people who deal with Christmas in some way, I guesstimate that:

  • 23% actually like fruitcake;
  • 15% will pretend to enjoy it if sweet little 90-year-old Aunt Martha offers it to them; and
  • 52% consider it appropriate only for use as a doorstop.


  • 56% love Christmas songs;
  • 35% can take them or leave them; and
  • 9% are quivering on the edge of violently gutting the next radio that plays ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’ just one… more… time…


  • 12% are finished their Christmas shopping;
  • 59% have ‘just a few things left to pick up’;
  • 21% are freaking out;
  • 16% will ignore the whole thing until December 24th; and
  • 2% celebrate Christmas without gifts.


  • 11% mail out actual paper cards or letters;
  • 24% email greetings;
  • 38% intend to send greetings but will run out of time and resolve to do it next year instead; and
  • 27% don’t bother.


  • 69% currently own a Christmas-themed article of clothing;
  • 23% had a Christmas-themed garment at one time but got rid of it; and
  • 8% have never owned any Christmas-themed garment, no matter how briefly (or boxer-ly, if that’s your preference).


  • 19% actually enjoy travelling during the Christmas season;
  • 66% dislike the hassle but do it anyway; and
  • 15% flat-out refuse to travel anytime between mid-December and the first week of January.


  • 31% will hand-make at least one gift; and
  • 69% will buy all the gifts.


  • 99% will eat too much this holiday season; and
  • 1% won’t.  (The rest of us envy your self-control.)

So how did I do?  Take the poll below to prove how full of shit I am (or not)!

Here are my votes:

  • I love fruitcake!
  • I can take or leave Christmas songs.
  • I just have a few things left to buy…
  • I mail out paper cards and letters.
  • I used to have a turtleneck with holly printed on the collar, but I can’t find it, so I must have gotten rid of it.
  • I hate travelling over Christmas but I’ll do it anyway to see family.
  • I usually hand-make at least one gift.
  • I’ll pig out and feel guilty, but not guilty enough to stop.

Click on the survey to vote, and I’ll post the results next week!

This survey doesn’t collect or store personally identifiable information. It’s just for fun.

Book 14 update:  I’m starting Chapter 38, and I’ve finally figured out how the book will end, hooray!  (Yes, I have a very strange writing process.)  😉

24 thoughts on “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

  1. In the same vein, I refer you to “Nice Guys Finish Seventh: False Phrases, Spurious Sayings, and Familiar Misquotations” by Ralph Keyes. (It’s one of my favorite selections for reading when I am in the “library.”) Just like statistics, any quote can be improved by rephrasing and attributed to a more famous author.

    Leo Durocher, manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, never said “Nice guys finish last.” There were seven teams in the league at that time but “Nice guys finish seventh” doesn’t sound as good as “Nice guys finish last.”

    A similar case is “If all the economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.” It has been attributed to George Bernard Shaw, John Maynard Keynes, Farmer Brown and Isaac Marcosson but no one knows with certainty.


    • The “economists” quote made me laugh — I hadn’t heard that one before! The nice thing about ambiguous sources is that even a cursory attempt at attribution absolves me of guilt over using the quote (or its common misquote). 😉


  2. I’d say your stats are pretty spot on!! Have a great weekend and week, Diane!! (not traveling this year…having travelers come to us…we can only pull that card every other year, with all the girls in-laws….but love it when we can pull that card!!)


  3. My shopping is pretty easy to knock out. I only buy for my wife. She deals with the rest of the planet. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my wife? 🙂

    This year, we’re both going to the nice spa place here in town together, buy each other an extravagant multi-massage package deal that includes one of those thick, fluffy, decadent robes apiece, hand each other the swag then and there at the register, wish each other Merry Christmas, and call it a day. I’ve looked pretty thoroughly at our plan for flaws, conundrums, kerfuffles, and oopsies. Can’t find a single one. 🙂

    I’m sneaking this in while my last class is taking their final exam! One more day, and I’m done. Plus I’m getting to spend a week in Denver with my sister before school starts again! My favorite person on the planet for all my life. I win, y’all!

    In case I don’t get to tell y’all again before then, MERRY CHRISTMAS!! Okay, break’s over. Back to work. Grading a 100-question final for a large class tonight and getting grades posted tomorrow before noon. No pressure. I got this.


  4. I actually like Christmas songs but not necessarily the ones they play on the radio. I particularly like singing them in the choir of which I am a member. We sing from September to December and this year, I actually had a short solo. Kind of a “bucket list” thing for me. I’m hoping to do it again next year. It’s a bit of a rush. I did make at least one successful gift and had intentions of making more. Just ran out of time… as usual. One did not turn out, sadly. As for fruitcake, I can take it or leave it.


    • Wow, a solo? That’s awesome! I think the only time anyone would request a vocal solo from me would be if some hogs needed calling. 😉

      And you’ve just pointed out the two major drawbacks of handmade gifts: Time and success. Just because I have time, doesn’t mean I’ll have success… *sigh*


    • You can absolutely travel to where there are palm trees! And I’m told that Christmas Day is actually a great time to travel, because nobody else wants to travel then. (I’ll wait for you to try it, and then find out for sure from your blog.) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Fun survey, Diane… I completed it in a very compact and confined space. Most of the answers are true, apart from the festive clothing one. I’ve never bought any, never wear any, but do own a garment or two. Oh, and a Santa hat, but I don’t think that counts.
    I bet 74% of folk wouldn’t class a Santa hat as being a festive garment, but I could be wrong. Or making it up – that seems all the rage at the moment!
    So… are you ready for Christmas then? 😉


  6. This year I’m sending the cards I bought and addressed last year but never sent. I do this thing where I run out of money for stamps because I’m a lousy budgeter 😂. Luckily for me my family and friends know me well and forgive me my poor planning skills. Now I just have to hope none of my friends moved without telling me….
    Fruit cake is good for weighing down a body you’re planning to throw in with “da fishes”. Just sayin’. 😁
    I love Christmas music but we pretty much only hear the same thirty or so songs done by everybody imaginable. I find that sad.
    I use to love last minute shopping. The deals you could get were just amazing! Now they wait until the “After Christmas Sale” and so Christmas Eve shopping just isn’t as much fun.
    I’ve always wanted an “ugly Christmas sweater” but I’m honestly too chicken to actually wear one☺️.
    Fun survey!!


    • I’m glad you got a kick out of it! And I would totally wear an “ugly” Christmas sweater if I had one (and if I had somewhere to wear it). I think gaudy Christmas sweaters are the last gasp of childhood we get as adults, and it’s too bad that we have to call them “ugly” in order to allow ourselves to wear them. I say bring ’em on! The louder and sparklier, the better!

      And that’s an excellent point about the fruitcake. Hmmm, if I wrote horror stories, I’d be all over a gruesome tale where sombody sinks a corpse using bricks of fruitcake, so all the underwater critters get attracted to the fruity goodness and chow down on the soft bits of the body… Okay, no; I just grossed myself out. Blech! (This is why I don’t write horror.)


  7. I demand more choices for those of us with good intentions and lousy follow-through! (eg. I PLAN to make gifts but always run out of time, so the store-bought options are reluctantly purchased; I PLAN to exercise self-control by not baking, but the family makes sad faces; I PLAN to send paper cards – and I do, but not until January; etc. . . . ) 😀


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