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Shocking numbers, but do they add up?


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  • Shocking numbers, but do they add up?


    It seems that hardly a day goes by without some alarming set of statistics appearing in a newspaper article or TV report and causing, well, alarm. But a little skepticism might be the better response. Actually a lot of skepticism. Both "It Ain't Necessarily So" (Rowman & Littlefield, 249 pages, $24.95) and "Damned Lies and Statistics" (California, 190 pages, $19.95) argue that the media are very good at trumpeting the "shocking results" of various studies and very bad at spotting bias or examining data in detail.

    The authors of "It Ain't Necessarily So" -- David Murray, Joel Schwartz and Robert Lichter -- provide several case studies of media alarmism. Are sperm counts falling? Is stored nuclear waste at risk of exploding? Does the northward movement of the checkerspot butterfly provide evidence of global warming? In each case, the media answer was "yes," and the real answer was "no" or "not proven."

    Take the mystery of falling sperm counts. The claim was made, in the 1996 book "Our Stolen Future," that man-made chemicals attack masculine development in the womb, affecting sperm production later. No less a person than Al Gore wrote the introduction to the book, and media outlets everywhere -- including U.S. News and World Report and Business Week ("the last endangered species could be us") -- shouted the news...

    [ 08-30-2001: Message edited by: Mike Sullivan ]

  • #2

    It's real easy to play around with numbers to support your point. Generally shocking stastics aren't really even a lie, they just leave out critical peices of information. Like the anti-gun lobby that always talks about how many gun related deaths we have each year. Ok, fine, but what they fail to mention is that a LOT of those are self defense or the defense of others. Like last year here in Tucson a jogger got jumped by two muggers with knives. Well one mugger is now in jail and the other is now helping support the dirt. Rather different than someone who used a gun to kill two people in cold blood.

    Whenever you hear a stastic that sounds wrong, check it out. Find out how the data was gathered, what's being reported and what it REALLY means.


    • #3
      Most of the time I despise the media. They seem to not care a bit for the truth, just what they can tell to start a little controversy. I was watching a Scariest Police Chases show the other night, and as it was going off they were winding up a chase where the suspect, a w/m, had kicked a deputy several times to get away from him. The news chopper was all over it and the narrator never said a thing about the assault on the officer, but when they caught the S.O.B. and gave him a few "love taps" getting him under control you should've heard this @$$hole reporter throwing off on the police. He calimed the guy was hit after he was cuffed, and that one cop used a flashlight. It was broad daylight, I didn't see a flashlight or the suspect get hit after he was cuffed. They were still struggling with him after he was in custody, but he brought it all on himself by running in the first place. The show went off without any further explanation. Kinda ****ed me off.

      *stepping down from soapbox now*

      Later ya'll
      Road Warrior

      "Every man dies, not every man really lives"


      • #4
        RoadWarrior, as sad as your story is, it doesn't surprise me one bit.

        I see unfair reporting of police actions on the news frequently. I also have LEO friends who have been victims of the medias particular brand of slanted reporting.
        [email protected] "Where there is love, there is no imposition"- Albert Einstien.


        • #5
          I know they don't like to talk about killing people here, but I wouldn't mind seeing some members of the media swinging from a lamp post.


          • #6
            Seems the police almost ALWAYS come out on the worst end with the media. Last year the University of Arizona played (and lost) the championship basketball game. Well the police KNEW there would be trouble downtown, since there was last time we won, and were ready. (Small) Riots broke out and police in riot gear came in. More or less they just marched in slowly and ordered people to leave. Didn't fire much in the way tear gas or rubber bullets. It was a pretty calm event. So immedatly afterwards the police are lambasted for not comming in strong enough and being too soft. Then about a day later a story surfaces about a frat boy who was causing trouble and had been shot with a beanbag round that hit him in the eye (he lost the eye). Now all of a sudden the police were under attavk for being too violent.

            Well people, which way is it?


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