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Stupid statistics in the news

Discussion in 'The Coffee House' started by UpForAbbey, Aug 7, 2008.

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  1. UpForAbbey

    UpForAbbey Guest

    So, I've recently started a thing on my MSN account and in my signature about statistics and random facts, mostly about American politics. I came across several very humorous pieces of information, and thought I would share them with everyone and also open it for others to share as well :)

    Number one
    WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices rose in November at the fastest clip in more than 30 years, propelled by an increase in energy and auto prices.
    Sounds pretty spectacular, but have a look at the graph and see if you can explain why it isn't that big of a deal....

    Number two
    "Ten percent of drivers choose to talk on their cell phones while having accidents" - SNL

    Number three
    "Many experts believe the North has enough radioactive material to build at least a half-dozen or more nuclear weapons."
    By BO-MI LIM and CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA, Associated Press Writer
    I think this example is pretty illustrative of what this is all about. You see the lazy writers who don't check their research. You see the public being grossly misinformed, seeing yet another basic misconception ("radioactive materials means nuclear-weapons materials"), and probably becoming more fearful and ignorant as a result. "Treating cancer with radiation??! What if it blows up and levels the whole city!?"

    Number four
    By LINDA A. JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer Wed Oct 4, 7:06 PM ET
    TRENTON, N.J. -
    Global warming could strain the Northeast's power grid, farms, forests and marine fisheries by the next century unless carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by 3 percent each year, according to a report released Wednesday.

    The climate in the nine states — from New Jersey and Pennsylvania up to Maine — could become like that of the South with longer, much hotter summers and warmer winters with less snow, the report by the Union of Concerned Scientists said.

    "This has enormous implications for human health. It puts a lot of stress on the energy system. It could lead to blackouts," said Katherine Hayhoe, an associate professor of geosciences at Texas Tech University and a lead author of the two-year study.

    I would hope that this wouldn't need much explanation. Defintely one of the more speculative assessments of global warming...

    Number four
    Vampires a Mathematical Impossibility, Scientist Says

    A researcher has come up with some simple math that sucks the life out of the vampire myth, proving that these highly popular creatures can't exist.
    Efthimiou's debunking logic: On Jan 1, 1600, the human population was 536,870,911. If the first vampire came into existence that day and bit one person a month, there would have been two vampires by Feb. 1, 1600. A month later there would have been four, and so on. In just two-and-a-half years the original human population would all have become vampires with nobody left to feed on.

    This doesn't require much explanation either, but I definitely laughed. Next they're going to find a mathematical way to prove that pi is not the same as pie.

    Number five
    Here's a typical piece of scaremongering in the wake of the Litvinenko assassination. Note that this entire freakin' article has not a single number or quantitative statement. Not one! It's all "some of..." or "a metal rod..." or "a small, but nonzero dose...", and similiar useless garbage. Because when you're a fearmongerer, when you're a TERRORIST journalist who scares people into getting a readership, with no regard to basic journalistic integrity, well, you write junk like this:
    CHICAGO - A physics teacher was taking inventory of chemicals in a storage room at Tri-City High School when she noticed a container that looked a little strange.

    She peered closer and worried that it was radioactive. It turns out, it was.

    "She was very alert about realizing that it could be a hazard," said Randy Dwyer, principal of the central Illinois school.

    I'll post more later :)
  2. Ha! These are great!! :biggrin:

    Mine's less sustantiated (as I was only listening with half an ear to the radio in the background), but apparently, the recession in The States is REAL - Wal-Mart's sales are way down!!! Now if THAT's not a landmark indicator, I don't know WHAT is!

    This is not another story - but a poorly written headline I read yesterday,
    "Police probe victim's injuries"....EEEEEeeeeeeWWWWWWwwwwww!!!!!! And OUCH!!!!!! :blink:
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