Almost an Excitement

Professor J. H. Plumb, who with his usual irony applauds innocent play with numbers, does so on this very ground of rhetoric: ‘We are becoming a numerate society: almost instinctively there seems now to be a greater degree of truth in evidence expressed numerically than in any literary evidence, no matter how shaky the statistical evidence, or acute the observing eye. It is often not the numbers that speak the truth, rather there is a quicker acceptance of them in ourselves — almost an excitement’.” (Jacques Barzun, Clio and the Doctors)