Sunday, July 03, 2016

Faulty Statistics

Every day on the road to work I go under a sign that tells the latest death toll on the highways of Georgia.  At the rate we are going, 3.65 or more people die per day on Georgia roads.  Every day or so the number gets bigger.  The sign is supposed to be a warning to drive safely, but I don't know how useful it is.  It is  distraction, for one thing. 

It also relegates the pain of a death in an automobile accident (close to my heart since I was in a serious accident in January and was miraculously not at all hurt) to a number on a sign.  If one of those was my husband or child, I don't know how I would feel about it.  However, I do not doubt the number.  I trust to be right, although I am not sure why.

We are told many numbers over and over again, and like Hitler's Big Lie, I sometimes think we are being told these numbers so that we will become convinced they are absolute truth and not question them, even though our initial reaction should be to say "what?".

The first is close to me because I work in higher ed:  1/5 college women are sexually assaulted.  I challenge you to look that up.  It's simple not even remotely true.  It leads one to say that 20% of college women are raped.  So, on my campus of about 3,00 women, 600 of them are raped in a given year?  Come on.  First, the statistics were drawn from a sample of 27 colleges (out of 5000 in the country), so we have massive sampling error there.  Then the definition of sexual assault was not clear; an unwanted kiss at a party when someone has drunk a bit too much was included.  With the horrendous stories like Brock Turner's, it's easy for the propagandists to spin a narrative of brutal, brutish men on campus with no other purpose than to abuse women.

I am not denying there are rapes and victims; of course there are.  And no, they are not all because the girls are drunk.  But let's be honest about the numbers.

Part of the problem may be that people just don't understand math.  People may think that 25% of the population is gay, (some do)  but that would mean one of every four persons  The Kinsey number was 11%, one of nine.  Reliable sources put it at 2-3%, maybe as much as 5%.  This one is of course questionable, since many do not admit to being homosexual for obvious reasons.  And it has nothing to do with rights, etc.  It's just a perception vs. reality vs. statistics vs. what we are told to believe thing.  

The second (of many) is that 50% of marriages end in divorce, and that the Christian divorce rate is the same.  It all depends on how you count the beans.  The 50% comes from taking the number of marriages and dividing by number of divorces in a given year (and the year was quite a while back and the numbers are trending down significantly).  That is a faulty way to figure it.  Gallup and Pew have also proven that when Christian is defined more clearly as lifestyle rather than a label, the Christian divorce rate is much, much lower.

I am reminded of the old story that wife abuse went up dramatically after the Super Bowl and the story of Kitty Genovese in New York, and so many others.   Please, please get the facts.  And don't spread the nonsense.  If a statistic sounds ridiculous or out of line, it probably is.

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