What is a made-up stat?

Supposedly Vic Reeves takes first credit for the joke ’88.2% of statistics are made up on the spot’. It was such a cracking line (load of people still send it in as a suggestion), and Guinness went and turned it into a TV ad:

This, as well as the insane, unregulated flow of statistical drivel that churns through Twitter and the rest of the internet, was the inspiration behind creating @madeupstats.

The reason for writing this post is that the most common reply we get when we post a new stat is: “Oi! That doesn’t sound made up!”. It’s almost as if some people expect us to post ludicrously absurd stats, such as “Madonna is composed of 78% kevlar”. Stuff like this can be funny, but the best, and most effective stats are when you are made to pause and wonder whether it’s true or not. Even better is if it is impossible to disprove.

It is this particular mindset that gave rise to our Twitter bio “Strengths: stats. Weaknesses: Checking stuff”. After all, to take the trouble to go round checking that something is incorrect is far too much work for us.

Ultimately, every stat is actually an observation on the world / society / Jordan’s boobs, and then it is converted into a random, but plausible-sounding number and sent out into the internet. Anyone who retweets the stat is providing the most fun – the bemused/outraged responses we get from people who are not following us are the best of all.

Just as a final thought on this post, and having given it some thought, we’d be hard-pushed to confirm that Madonna is in fact kevlar-free.