Stats says Dolphins loses

From Hannah Fry’s fascinating story in the 9/19/19 issue of The New Yorker:


  • “Statistics, for all its limitations, has a profound role to play in the social realm.”

Hannah and/or her copy editors at the magazine have decided to treat statistics as a singular noun.

I don’t know. It would be different, I think, if there were no such thing as a single statistic. But you can indeed deal with a single statistic. So it seems to me we should say statistics have a role.

The Brits do sort of the opposite thing when they talk football.

  • Arsenal have won the league!

In the U.S., we don’t say Miami have won the game! (Well, there’s another reason we never say this, but let’s not descend into the quagmire of partisanship.)

I guess if you’re talking about statistics as a realm, a body of work, a concept, then it makes sense to treat it as a singular.

But I confesses, such a concept bother me.


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