80% of people recommend

If 80% of people recommend something, does that mean only 20% recommend the other thing?

Not necessarily.

Ask 100 dentists to write down their favourite toothpaste brands.

80 of them write down Colgate.

So you could say 80% recommend Colgate.

But there’s information being left out.

What if 87 of them wrote down Oral-B?

'87% of dentists recommend Oral-B.'

And 68 of them wrote down Crest.

'68% of dentists recommend Crest.'

All of the metrics are telling the truth.

You don't see many ads saying, 'We asked 100 dentists what their favourite toothpastes were, 80% of them said Colgate, 87% of them said Oral-B and 68% of them said Crest.'

Instead they say, '80% of dentists recommend Colgate.' A true statement.

After all, the dentists did write down their favourite brands. And 80% of them did write down Colgate.

But by leaving information out, it paints a different story.

Even the truth can be misleading. Especially when it's partial.

Your follow up question should be, 'what else do they recommend?'