The quantitative methods course I am attending this term has so confirmed my suspicions: there are completely legit ways to tweak data into whatever suits your agenda. That is done by adjusting the so called significance levels, a technicality most of the media-consuming public have never heard of.
Even more abuse goes on on the stage of operationalising your hypothesis: turning your assumptions into numbers. A deliciously brazen example has been recently publicised, to next to none fanfare in the Guardian: determining how forward-looking a country is by its aggregated Google searches Physicists and mathematicians(in this case quite an eminent bunch of them) seem very kin on churning out this kind of nonsense is by the brick shithouse-full when allowed to pontificate about society and stuff.
The worst thing, because it contains lots of numbers arranged in nifty graphs, it is peddled as Science to the widest swathes of gullible population. This kind of PowerPoint style persuasion has direct implications onto everyone's daily life as it is used to advise decision-makers, craft policies and create the social imaginary that shapes everything else into existence.