We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
A propos the link this morning about lying about infant mortality (but also a propos everything else) we urge all readers and all Americans to read Darrell Huff's classic How to Lie with Statistics.
You do not need to be a math whiz to understand it, but if you don't know this basic stuff, you will be easily duped. Duped expecially by the MSM, which is not only biased in data presentation but is also widely ignorant about the most basic statistics.
In the link we mentioned above, the report was making an "apples and oranges error", known as a "Category Error." It's the same error involved in the report that showed the world's best cancer center, Sloan-Kettering Memorial in NYC, as having the worst mortality rates of American hospitals. Data can be technically accurate, yet meaningless. Similarly, the most talented docs often have the lowest success rates because they take on the toughest cases.
Money manager acquaintances have told me how they make their numbers look good: they select their best time frame to present, and they decide whether to include or exclude new money added during that time frame. That is a fallacy known as selection bias. A good example at the bottom here: how different would the impression be if you just charted June to November?
I don't know if reporters willfully misreport data or if they're just stupid.
Two examples: Years ago, the Austin paper reported that there must by X% of UT students HIV positive because X% of the blood samples drawn at the student health center were HIV positive -- no consideration given to the fact that students who had blood drawn were probably more likely to be sick than the average student and hence not a representative sample.
Second -- a Memphis reporter said that my zip code had one of the worst mortality rates in the city, disregarding the fact that there is a hospital within that zip code.
What the mainstream media sells is a reflection of what their consumers will buy - with some insider politics too, I suppose. And I'd guess this will probably just get worse as the more inquiring minds migrate to the internet.
If we could get hold of SAT and GRE score data for journalists I'm pretty sure I could run a set of stats that would confirm a level of innate math capability that would tie neatly to the LCD of their readership. Eigth grade - on a good day.
Some of 'em kin write a bit but countin' just ain't in it.