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Words 975

Pages 4

September 19, 2013

Elements of Statistics

MAT121.M2

Jenny Fiedeldey

Chatfield College

Statistics Paper #1

“It Ain't Necessarily So”

Being as interested in news and politics as I am, I was already aware of the fact that statistics are extremely inaccurate. Statistics falsely portray their sample or population to be over exaggerated or under exaggerated. Either way, statistics are basically lies, whether that is the intention or not.

Reading “It Ain't Necessarily So” has only further confirmed by beliefs about statistics and their falseness. I had never taken into consideration all of those who are involved in the inaccuracy of said statistics, though. I had always just blamed the news sources for that. However, reading this paper has taught me that the news sources are probably the only people not involved in what is basically a lie; they are just given the information and told to report it. I now know that the victim (or in some cases, so-called “victim”), investigator, and the person collecting the data are the ones who are to blame for the misrepresentation.

These false studies are being presented to the public every day, concerning a very wide range of topics. Extreme confusion is caused when the public hears drastically varying numbers and reports concerning things such as presidential approval rates, unemployment rates, and any other topic one might think of. When each news source is reporting entirely different information on the same subject matter, this causes the public to be bias toward one specific news station and it is typically the one the viewer himself wishes to be accurate. Then that said viewer develops a strong disliking for any other news source simply because the viewer believes that it is the reporter's fault for the construed news, when in reality, it is someone else' fault behind the scenes whom the public will typically never hear about. The viewers will almost never take into consideration that all of the news sources are incorrect, causing everyone to believe false information.

Being a Christian myself, I saw many other, more ethical, actions the people in the example situations could have taken. When Jane and Richard Stevens are having an argument, Jane should not have slapped Richard's faces, just as Richard should not have responded by shoving Jane. They each should have had more patience, understanding, and self control. Mary Smith and Peter Jones should not have drank a whole bottle of wine and along with that smoked marijuana because together they are an excessive indulgence. They also, according to the Bible, should not have had premarital sex. The way that the story is told makes it sound like Mary simply “decides” that she has been raped and in that case, she would be lying which is obviously unethical. In the last example, if Cindy Smith had claimed that Bob Patterson had kidnapped their son, Billy, then she would have been baring false witness since she almost definitely would have been aware that Bob was not abducting their son and also we must take into consideration that Bob is Billy's father and that there may have been extenuating circumstances, such as weather or road conditions.

If I were to give someone who had very little statistical training who got their information from the media advice, it would be to question everything, believe nothing, and look at things objectively. Those who rely only on the media for their belief sources should question where the media got their information, if that source is reliable, why there are multiple, differing percentages regarding the exact same study, etc.

I was quite shocked at just how some studies are taken. For example, when The Commonwealth Fund conducted their survey on women to measure domestic abuse, the questions of whether, in the past year, their spouse or partner had, “insulted or swore at you”, “stomped out of the room or house or yard”, and “threw or smashed or hit or kicked something” could have nothing to do with domestic abuse. I have done all of those things in my life, multiple times, yet I have not abused anyone. Insulting someone can be done unintentionally. Stomping out of a room, house, or yard could be done only because one is angry at that moment, but that does not imply that said person is abusive. Throwing, smashing, and kicking something could mean the same thing. In fact, some people could be doing that for a job. If the women who were asked these question were not aware of the reason why they were being asked, they could have answered yes simply because it was the truth, when in reality it had a totally different meaning to them than it did to the surveyor.

Another thing I was shocked at was Mary Koss's method of determining how many females had an experience that met the legal definition of rape or attempted rape. First of all, the fact that the study says, “...rape or attempted rape” is too misleading for any wise person to even look at past the title. It could be that only two percent of all the women surveyed were legitimately raped, while the other ninety-eight percent had only had an experience where they were almost raped. But the viewer may automatically think that every single one surveyed had been legitimately raped. Secondly, Koss used only one way to determine whether or not the women had been raped: her opinion. This to me is just ridiculous because even if the women themselves had not said they had been raped, Koss still could have considered it rape just because that's what she believed, and vice versa.

All in all, when it comes to statistics, I just like to remember a quote said by Samuel Clemens, “There are lies, there are damned lies, and there are statistics.”…...

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