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Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the by Joel Best

By Joel Best

The following, by means of well known call for, is the up to date version to Joel Best's vintage consultant to realizing how numbers can confuse us. In his new afterword, top makes use of examples from fresh coverage debates to mirror at the demanding situations to bettering statistical literacy. considering the fact that its booklet ten years in the past, Damned Lies and facts has emerged because the go-to instruction manual for recognizing undesirable facts and studying to imagine severely approximately those influential numbers.

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Additional info for Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists (Updated Edition)

Sample text

Every statistic has its authors, its creators. Sometimes a number comes from a particular individual. On other occasions, large organizations (such as the Bureau of the Census) claim authorship (although each statistic undoubtedly reflects the work of particular people within the organization). In asking who the creators are, we ought to be less concerned with the names of the particular individuals who produced a number than with their part in the public drama about statistics. the importance of social statistics 27 Does a particular statistic come from activists, who are striving to draw attention to and arouse concern about a social problem?

Bureau of the Census calculates the poverty line—the income levels below which people are considered poor. First established in 1964, the poverty line involves a set of calculations: first, the government determined a food budget for a nutritionally sound diet for a family of four; then, assuming that families spend one-third of their income on food, the bureau multiplied that figure by three. This produced the total income for the base poverty line (which was adjusted for families of different sizes).

Public and private organizations usually command the resources needed to organize effective campaigns to create social problems. 7 In other words, when we become aware of — and start to worry about—some new social problem, our concern is usually the result of efforts by some combination of problem promoters — activists, reporters, experts, officials, or private organizations—who have worked to create the sense that this is an important problem, one that deserves our attention. * *I am not implying that there is anything wrong with calling attention to social problems.

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