Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Statistics 101 - Lying and the Media

I was just listening to a US news program on TV that was discussing distracted driving. The host stated, and I quote, 
"...62% of those who died in distracted driving accidents were daydreaming. Only 12% were talking or texting..."
I can see how they can determine who was using a cell phone. That is easy enough to prove, BUT I ASK YOU... how the HELL do they know that people were daydreaming before they died in an accident?

That is the same *S*T*U*P*I*D* logic that applies when it is said that someone who dreams of falling off a cliff will die if they actually hit bottom in the dream. Not die in the dream, I mean, DIE die. Supposedly that's why people tend to wake before they crash into the ground. We can only surmise, therefore, that people who die in their sleep, a supposedly 'nice way to go', have actuallly succumbed to a horrific multiple trauma, though they've left a beautiful corpse.

So now it is that the lunacy of this not only continues, but is legitimized on news programs.
Maybe the 'daydreaming' person fell asleep. Maybe he or she was reaching to change the radio station. Maybe they were suicidal. Maybe they were trying to soothe a child in the back seat. Maybe they were getting something out of their eye. Maybe they were trying to retrieve their cell phone off the floor. Maybe they dropped a cigarette. Maybe they were swatting at a bee! WHO the HELL KNOWS?!?!?!

But the use of fictitious, meaningless statistics and making them say what you want them to say is not a phenomenon unique to US television. Certainly not!

Just the other night, here in St. John's, Newfoundland, I was watching "NTV Evening News: First Edition", and observed the host reporting on the most recent political poll findings. On the screen was a graphic which illustrated the popularity of the leaders of the three provincial political parties. The numbers were as follows:

Lorraine Michael - 61%
Dwight Ball - 41%
Kathy Dunderdale - 25%

So, according to NTV that night, and Coast 101.1 FM the next morning, this is where the leaders stand. Fascinating. This is how 127% of those polled responded. These professional media types, sounding very knowledgeable and authoritative, rattled off these numbers, and hoped that 127% of those listening wouldn't notice. Well, I can assure them that 100% of ME noticed. And bellylaughed at their ongoing desperate public manipulations.  
To quote Mark Twain - "There are three kinds of lies; lies, damn lies and statistics."
The Moral of the Story - Give anyone a TV camera and a microphone, and they will say anything they want, and 127% of the world will believe them.

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