Why is the sentence "Statistics is often misleading" incorrect?

I know that statistics can be singular but also plural. Should I use singular in this case?


Statistics, when used as a singular noun, refers to a field of study:



[treated as singular]

the practice or science of collecting and analysing numerical data in large quantities, especially for the purpose of inferring proportions in a whole from those in a representative sample.

It would be incorrect to say that an entire field of study can be misleading. That would be like saying that Calculus is misleading, or Geology or something.

Statistics can also be used as the plural form of statistic. Any statistic could be misleading if presented in the right (wrong) way. Therefore, the correct form of the sentence is

Statistics are often misleading

  • 1
    ...meaning the sentence is correct grammatically, but wrong, unless you're strongly opinionated against the whole science. – SF. Jul 29 '13 at 11:14
  • And I'd argue from the large amount of statistical innumeracy easily found in the press, that the science of statistics as a whole is easily misunderstood by those that don't practice it. That could be boldly stated for emphasis by saying "Statistics is often misleading." It would be an over-generalization, certainly, and as such is likely to itself be misleading. And it also seems like an awkward construction. – RBerteig Jul 29 '13 at 23:27

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