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Re: [skeptical] Abuse of statistics is topic of call-in show

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  • Eric Hamell
    I ve never heard the media refer to an income gap in the abstract. I hear about income gaps *between groups* -- i.e., differences in median income between
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 5, 2001
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      I've never heard the media refer to an "income gap" in the abstract. I hear
      about income gaps *between groups* -- i.e., differences in median income
      between men and women, "blacks" and "whites," etc. These are unquestionably
      real -- although in my opinion the wealth gaps between groups, as well as
      the skewness of the overall wealth distribution, are far more socially
      important, having more to do with actual power.

      As to to media's treatment of statistics generally, there's a combination of
      sensationalism and ignorance. Most simply don't know any better, just as in
      the poor coverage of science. While I didn't get to hear the Todd Mundt
      Show, I'm willing to bet it was at least partially a corrective, given the
      usually higher quality of NPR. (The local affiliate's call-in host calls
      herself a skeptic and actively discourages pseudoscience.)

      Eric


      >From: Fred <fred@...>
      >To: phact@yahoogroups.com
      >CC: skeptical@yahoogroups.com
      >Subject: Re: [skeptical] Abuse of statistics is topic of call-in show
      >Date: Fri, 20 Jul 2001 19:51:39 -0400
      >
      >Eric Hamell wrote:
      >
      > > Friends,
      > >
      > > This is scheduled for Tuesday on National Public Radio. You may want to
      >call
      > > in to criticize or elaborate on the guest's perspective, or just to give
      > > your personal favorite examples. (Check local listings for time.)
      > >
      > > Eric Hamell
      > > Philadelphia
      > >
      > > THE TODD Mundt SHOW 1-2PM
      > > ''There are lies, there are damned lies, and then there are
      >statistics.''
      > > Mark Twain said it, and these so-called lies pepper the media today more
      > > than ever, shaping our opinions about everything from abortion rates to
      > > the US census. Join us as we talk stats. You'll learn how to sniff out
      > > the bull, and separate the damned lies from the truth.
      >
      >If it's from the Media, it is already suspect just on that basis alone. And
      >truly, we must wonder if the Media itself really understands statistics, or
      >are
      >they just fumbling along like that do elsewhere? Or are they trying too
      >hard to
      >rile up our emotions instead of just presenting the facts in a
      >dispassionate and
      >accurate manner?
      >
      >On of my favorite pet peeves is when the media harps abet an "income gap."
      >Such
      >is pure fiction. There is no income gap; if anything, it's an income hump.
      >A
      >continuous range of incomes with a hump somewhere in the middle following
      >some
      >distribution curve. In statistics, you look at the middle and leave out
      >your
      >outliers. I think the media does just the opposite.
      >
      >I guess there is no fun talking about that hump in the middle. It's just so
      >average. :-)
      >
      >-Fred
      >
      >


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