Absolute vs Relative

Leor Grebler
1 min readMar 17, 2023
Generated by author using MIdjourney

About 17 years ago, I sat down one Saturday and read How To Lie With Statistics. It was a quick and funny read but a great reinforcement to the more bland statistic

I thought about that book again when it was mentioned on a Tim Ferriss Podcast featuring Dr. Peter Attia. It made me think about one of the more fundamental concepts relating to numbers and statistic: absolute change versus relative change.

You can see a news report that says something like walking outside daily vs sitting in your basement increases your risk of being hit by a car by 11,000%.

“Wow!” you think, “ I’m never going on another walk!”

However, the report is showing the relative risk. It isn’t mentioning the absolute risk. The chance might vary from a risk of being hit by a car from 1 in 100,000,000 to 11 in 100,000,000. That is still tiny and highly unlikely.

We make many decisions, both to avoid things or take on new practices, based on relative changes but we should always look at this in the context of absolute.

Writing this post is more of a reminder for myself!

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Leor Grebler

Independent daily thoughts on all things future, voice technologies and AI. More at http://linkedin.com/in/grebler