>I agree that numbers and statistics can be created and used mindlessly >or falsely, but at least they present a solid target!
I'm not so sure. Here's an example. I belong to an organization which does nothing but have meetings, but which receives support from various businesses and government grants (no, I won't tell you what it is). At a recent meeting we received a chart "measuring" financially the impact of this organization. Since it has never done anything, we figured out that what was probably done was to add up all the hours of meetings, multiply it by the average number of people attending, and multiply this by the average hourly salary of attendees, to get a "value added" number -- that's what this organization had contributed!
Now I like this organization and think it does a lot of good, largely in getting people to talk together who normally would not meet -- and as we know good things often come from this. But the measure we were given of its worth was utter nonsense.