Statistics refers to mathematical science relating to the collection, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data.
Statistics can be misleading, vague and distorted. The word itself has roots to the 1797 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica where it was defined as a "word lately introduced to express a view or survey of any kingdom, county, or parish." Statistics are figures collected by politicians, economists, government officials, physicians, mathematicians and others, with the object being to obtain information about the society and its members that would be useful and thus increase their leverage and efficacy in social improvement and control. One example is the London Statistical Society, which defined the furtherance of statistics as a science as its goal and among other things gave advice to the government on the types of data they felt should be collected as part of the various censuses conducted periodically in the British Isles.
Statistics without specifics are useless. Take as an example the statement that since George W. Bush took office in 2000 to the national election of 2004, approximately one million jobs were lost. Such an ambiguous statistic allows the reader to interpret it based upon their like or dislike of the president. If we knew the specifics, we could discern whether the jobs lost had a positive or negative impact on our domestic economy. If the jobs lost were those of average, hard-working family-raising Americans, the loss would seem a bad thing. If the jobs lost were positions held by unnecessary government bureaucrats in an attempt to cut some fat in our over-expanded federal government, the loss would seem quite good.