Dr. Papageorgiou: Greetings Evi, you are a statistician and have been working in market research and market analysis for years. We’ve known each other for a long time, so we’re on a first-name basis. Nice of you to take the time.

Evi Fresh: I’m looking forward to our conversation. I’m following your blog.

Dr. Papageorgiou: My daily bread is plastic surgery. The statistics say that my work consists of about 60% liposuctions, 20% upper eyelid lifts and the remaining 20% other procedures. 

Evi Fresh: And is that the case?

Dr. Papageorgiou: Well, it depends. So if I think back to my time in Berlin, yes, I have to say that 50% of the procedures were liposuction and other tightening operations on the body, 25% of the procedures were on the face and eyelids, and the remaining 25% were breast surgery. Yes, that’s not entirely wrong.

Evi Fresh: And how is it now in your new practice in Bern?

Dr. Papageorgiou: Well, we are just starting out and are quite new in Switzerland. So I don’t think we really have valid data yet. What I mean is our numbers are not so many that they allow a real assessment.

Evi Fresh: You have intuitively understood something very important correctly. Statistics is a very good method for classifying things, but it always has certain prerequisites and many parameters must be taken into account correctly so that the statistics can reflect reality.

Dr. Papageorgiou: You can see that in political or social opinion polls. The wording of the question plays an incredibly important role. 

Evi Fresh: Correct. It also plays an important role which result is sought or, in other words, desired. 

Dr. Papageorgiou: It’s similar in medicine. There is a very well-known study from Harvard University that revealed a direct link between the sponsor and the study result. Roughly speaking, the more money the medical study receives from the sponsor, the more positive the result is for the sponsors.

Evi Fresh: Logically, as soon as a sponsor has an interest in a certain result, there is already a conflict of interest before the study. So the more independent a statistic or study is, the more valid it is. However, it is almost impossible to tell who commissions studies and which result was desired or not. As soon as a study has a conflict of interest, it also loses a great deal of credibility.

Dr. Papageorgiou: There is a famous quote from Churchill: “I only believe the statistics that I have falsified myself.”

Both laugh

Evi Fresh: Yes, legendary.

Dr. Papageorgiou: When are we humans doing well statistically?

Evi Fresh: That’s hard to answer and is discussed every few years under new criteria: financial, family, self-realization, freedom, positive stress, activity, spirituality, war and peace, age. I don’t think this question can be answered statistically. But I’ll give it a try. We statisticians have a very peculiar sense of humor. If you take a person who has a body temperature of roughly 36 degrees. So if you take a person and put 50% of his body in the oven and the other 50% in fridge, and you regulate the temperatures so that in the end the statistical body temperature is 36 degrees, then statistically speaking this person is doing very well.

They both laugh

Dr. Papageorgiou: Excellent! That’s the best thing I’ve learned about statistics in my life. Thank you very much Evi.

Evi Fresh: It was a pleasure.