As I teach or lecture on our changing system, I never cease to be amazed at the gasps I get when I show the population and economic data. The key word here is ‘data’, not an opinion, or a politically motivated statement but real data, from good sources like the Office of National Statistics (ONS). If the data is surprising enough to get a gasp, then what is going on inside the heads of individuals faced with this for the first time? More importantly, given its importance to exercising good judgement in response to system changes, why is it that this is often their first exposure? This article includes an experiment in thinking to examine how you judge and conclude when faced with data instead of just statements, along with some perspectives on what this means for change and reform.