Friday, 8 October 2004

Lies, Damned Lies...

And Statistics. Over at The Iron Monkey there's a first-rate article on how to manipulate a story to match a preconceived bias.
Step 1. Start with data that shows a positive trend, like this DOT highway fatality data that shows that the traffic fatality rate is at the lowest level ever recorded. This article states the correct conclusion at the top:
The fatality rate on the nation’s highways in 2003 was the lowest since record keeping began 29 years ago, the U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced today. The number of crash-related injuries also dropped to a historic low in 2003.

"America’s roads and highways are safer than ever," said Secretary Mineta. "The decreasing number of traffic fatalities and record low death rate on our roads shows that we are headed down the right road – one that leads to a safer America."

But don't worry, we can find ways to make this data sound scary, as if it means just the opposite.

Step 2. Change the comparison......

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