How to lie with statistics – example 322

Paul Kedrosky reproduces some data on supposedly  fast growth industries:

According to a new study, here are the best and worst performing industries of the last decade as measured in revenue percentage change terms. Here are the leaders:

Some of these are doubtless valid, but the top 4 are all industries that had virtually no revenue at all in the 1990s, since they basically did not exist were not measured until Internet companies started to go public.¬† It’s easy to have an astronomical growth rate if you make the base number small enough. Startups do this a lot – “our revenue grew 1500% in our first 2 years.” That could mean they had $1000 of revenue in year 1, and $15000 in year 3!

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