Torture statistics long enough ... they'll confess to anything

Jason Kemp makes some good points about Research and Development, fair enough, all good.
But he used an expression in his posting that gives me the willies. Per Head of Population…The Kiwi Battle cry!
"Yes, it might be a piddling amount of money - but it is more per head of population in the OECD." ...



It had never struck me before reading Gordon McLaughlan's only-ever-so-slightly dated book The Passionless People that Per Head of Population (PHoP) is a national catch cry. Yes we only won 2 gold medals at the world champs, but that makes us number one! (PHoP). Reminds me of the last Olympic Games when a kiwi commentator was fizzing about an athlete's admittedly excellent, performance…coming home in fourth place..."A sensational result!!!…almost Bronze!". Which naturally means that Bronze becomes an almost Silver and better still …an almost gold for the brave argentier. And, before you howl in protest that argentier is a made up word, (or really means Minister of Finance) yes it is…but at least I used it in this context first - and thus take home the gold fair and square, no nearly about it.

I guess what I am saying is that in R&D terms, PHoP hardly amounts to a hill of beans. Kind of like the cash available for killer app research in New Zealand. If you are going to toe to toe with a Chinese giant in say, pharmaceuticals, then you better pray that you have a better idea than them to begin with - and wealthy friends. The Big Guy, as they say, is on the side of the big battalions.

Either you win or you post rationalise with statistics.

But, of course, we all know that if you torture statistics for long enough they will confess to anything. 

Oh, and ironically, the Stats department released the census results today. They are here . Make of them what you will. 



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