Social Issues

Lies, Damn Lies, and STATS

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If you find yourself in need of a wee bit of debunkery, head over to STATS.org, a site that tears apart inaccurate "facts and figures" that are floating around threatening to become conventional wisdom against all logic and evidence. Some of their best stories of 2007:

Battles of the Bottles

Reacting to media reports in the San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome banned plastic water bottles because they contained "toxic" phthalates. What the Mayor and the media missed was that plastic bottles are made with a different chemical that happens to have a similar sounding name -- polyethylene terephthalate, a harmless polyester.

Left at the Altar by Statistics

In June, Time Out New York sent a wave of panic through the city's wannabe brides with a cover story claiming that there are 185,000 more single women than men in New York City. But the excess number of single women is due to the fact that men tend to die at younger ages than women do. In most younger age groups, there are significantly more men. For example there are 211,590 18 and 19-year old men in the NY Metro area compared to 201,282 women.

More reason on statistics here and here.

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  1. its not the stats, its the illogic used to tie a cause/effect relationship among that inevitably leads towards a pre-determined conclusion, that by gosh, supports what we believed all along and you know, it shows that those people must be evil or unbelievably stupid.

  2. If those are “some of their best stories of 2007,” I think I’ll pass.

  3. Statistics are the devil’s muse to be used by those who refuse to have faith in their delusions!

  4. They also have a good story on marijuana “causing” schizophrenia, and other related BS.

  5. Stats are useful if the measures, frames and comparisons are meaningful and understood.

    In the hands of those who don’t understand them, however, they are dangerous.

    Anyone can say “x causes cancer”, but if “X” saves more lives by preventing deaths from other causes and there is no substitute for “x”, then banning “x” is stupid.

  6. Well, if we can’t be trusted to make decisions about the kind of light bulbs to buy, or the kind of cars to drive, we sure as heck can’t be trusted to pick the right kind of beverage containers. No, we need to leave the hard decisions to our statist overlords.

    And Gavin Newsome was widely regarded as the sensible, moderate candidate when he was elected mayor of SF. The other candidates were even less inclined to let us make our own choices.

  7. Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome banned plastic water bottles because they contained “toxic” phthalates. What the Mayor and the media missed was that plastic bottles are made with a different chemical that happens to have a similar sounding name

    Price, it’s not what you say it is, it’s what the market will bear.

    I’ll bet that Newsome got political traction with this, and made environmentalist points. Who cares if it wasn’t true?

    I had a guaranteed military sale with ED. Renovation program. Spare parts for years. Who cares if it worked or not?

  8. I’m pretty sure the City’s wannabe brides have been and always will be in a state of panic.

  9. While the stats on single 80 year olds are irrelevant, are 18 and 19 year olds much better?

    Do 18 and 19 year olds get married? I was married at 27 and was one of the youngest among my friends. Plus, would 18 or 19 year old females marry an 18 year old boy?

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