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Another voice of sanity

Discussion in 'General Discussion Forum' started by ManlyBacker, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. ManlyBacker

    ManlyBacker Winging it Staff Member

    +972 /7
    One major concern I have always had is the irresponsible use of statistics.

    This covers the lack of research for so-called statistics bandied about to justify almost any crackpot stance, and on the other side is the use of statistics, or more to the point the bending of statistics and the inflation of statistics, to suit a cause.

    Dan Gardner is one who looks at the use of information to deliberately alter the thoughts of the populace by the media, politicians or one-cause campaigners. Dan has a book, among his many good writings, called 'Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear' and it makes thought-provoking stances.

    An excerpt can be found at the SMH: http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/dont-believe-the-hype/2008/04/25/1208743246526.html  This one covers the 'fact' that 50,000 pedophiles are online at any one time.

    His website is here: http://www.dangardner.ca/

    It is time to make the users of statistics accountable for where the information is derived, and more importantly what the criteria is when they finally announce the results. A classic is the the recent media release by Roxon, Minister for Health & Aging:

    "9/04/2008 - The federal government has appointed a task force to tackle the growing health and social challenges caused by smoking and drinking, which costs Australia $56 billion a year. A government report, released by Health Minister Nicola Roxon on Wednesday, shows that in 2004-2005, the social cost of alcohol was $15.3 billion, tobacco use was $31.5 billion and illicit drugs $8.2 billion. Alcohol and illicit drugs acting together cost another $1.1 billion."

    This story was picked up by every news channel in Australia and I am sure that $56 Billion will be mentioned over and over again. What they don't tell you is the criteria used in coming to that figure. A bit of research shows that the largest amount of the $56B is lost productivity in households. Yep, lie down after a night on the booze and the activities you might have planned for the day are rolled up in the so-called 'costs' to Australia. $12B is attributed to lost household production - $11B by premature death (that is, you cark it therefore the work you could have done is a 'cost') and $1B from sickness (you stopped doing something because you needed to lie down). They even throw in $44M because vehicles weren't available as a result of an accident (puh-leeeze!). $247M was slotted in as costs for insurance administration. And I won't go to where the household production value is calculated because it isn't available.

    Then there are the crime costs. Police $320M, Courts $28M, prisons $146M, property $145M, but the biggest figure is 'productivity of prisoners' at $388M! What the? We won't mention the loss to the nation if the police, judges, jurors, prison warders and retailers selling replacement products didn't earn a wage or profit. Even though that is the type of criteria used to inflate these costs, it wouldn't do to offset them in any way.

    Rant over, but you get the picture. These 'research' reports and figures thrown in our faces and acted on by governments and pushed by self-serving protagonists aren't worth the inflated committee's fees or, more importantly, our belief.
  2. Chip and Chase

    Chip and Chase True Supporter Staff Member Administrator Premium Member 2017 Tipping Competitor

    +8,593 /80
    Anyone who believes in statistics that they have no knowledge of the criteria under which they were collated is an absolute moron and deserves a smack across the forehead.

    My first thought when I see statistics is what haven't they told us ??
  3. The Gronk

    The Gronk Well-Known Member

    +37 /0
    83% of statistics are made up by the author. 
  4. Jatz Crackers

    Jatz Crackers Moderator Staff Member

    +1,475 /8
    Statistically speaking, more often than not in a 50/50 scenario, the balance of probabilities dictate a higher than average result when expressed as a percentage, that its made up by someone else other than the author. In 92% of cases mind you.
  5. ManlyBacker

    ManlyBacker Winging it Staff Member

    +972 /7
    Well said my esteemed colleagues.

    Two more fab examples in todays paper, including one for CW to comment on:

    Call for schools to have at least two principals

    SCHOOL leadership is too big a job for one principal, according to Australian research that recommends two or more people should share the responsibility.

    An Australian Council for Educational Research paper released yesterday says the job of school principal has become too complex for one person.

    Bill Mulford, an honorary professor from the University of Tasmania education faculty, who compiled the report, said this had made the job unpopular among prospective candidates.

    "About 20 per cent of principals are aged 55 or over and it is going to be a large proportion who are going to retire in the next five to 10 years," Professor Mulford said. "But people aren't rushing for the job.

    "We need to rethink school leadership as being broader than the school principal. Who takes leadership responsibility needs to be distributed among a wide range of people."

    Thank you, thank you Professor Mulford. Every organisation needs two heads to work efficiently and delegation to leutenants is an art, used for at least 6000 years, that should be thrown out the window. I guess the fact that 80% of principals are under 55 doesn't matter.


    And a special thank you for some sanity from Yuko Narushima of the SMH:

    My first drink outside the family home was a Subzero, a bubbly lemonade with a spirit kick that is no longer on the market. I drank it out of a mug at a friend's brother's 21st birthday party. I was 13.

    This year that one-off drink would put me among the young women so alarming politicians and shock jocks after the 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey was released on Sunday. It is a binge drinking epidemic, they say. Girls are out of control. Hyped up on sugary alcopops, they are engaging in risky behaviour.

    But take a closer look at the statistics and they are not so alarming. Sure, girls aged 12 to 15 are three times as likely as boys that age to drink once a week. But only 3.2 per cent of girls that age do so, compared with 1 per cent of boys. The female figure is unchanged from three years ago and the report warns now, as it did then, that these numbers "should be interpreted with caution" because of the smaller sample sizes of younger children and the low prevalence of alcohol use among them.

    More than two-thirds of these children have never had a full serve of alcohol but that inconvenient statistic does not provide a news story about girls gone wild. Nor does it support a government decision on April 9 to set up the National Preventative Health Taskforce to tackle chronic diseases caused by alcohol and other such vices. Part of the $2 billion expected over four years from the increased excise on alcopop drinks announced this week will fund this group's programs.
  6. Fro

    Fro Well-Known Member

    +301 /0
    subzero :)

    that takes me back...
  7. Canteen Worker

    Canteen Worker Well-Known Member

    +215 /5
    All I can say is that statistics say that 35 percent of people don't read well, another 35 percent don't rite well and the remaining 45 percent can't add up.
  8. Garts

    Garts Well-Known Member

    +844 /25
    Statistics, I remember doing it at uni thinking when will I ever use this crap again.  The lecturer would get all excited telling us all the exciting things we can do with what we are learning.
  9. ManlyBacker

    ManlyBacker Winging it Staff Member

    +972 /7
    Garts, boring as statistics may appear, it should be the driver for almost every decision made for the betterment of business, government at all levels, and even our own lives. Performance benchmarks, delivery of services, popular trends, almost every part of life should be measured for where we are, how we compare with others, and then used for analysing what we need to do to get to where we want to go. Boring maybe (but not to me), but useful when the correct criteria is applied (an art in itself). How would we know Beaver was the greatest try scoring forward of all time unless someone took the time to keep tally?
  10. nodd

    nodd Well-Known Member

    +105 /5
    Doesn't it what!

    1992- backed it in the wet to win the cup. Probably drank a few subs with the winnings? 8)
  11. Garts

    Garts Well-Known Member

    +844 /25
    Not saying it is useless, just useless for me.  One of the easier subjects at uni though, a given distinction.
  12. Utility Player

    Utility Player Well-Known Member

    +514 /6
    Or that MB hardly ever votes in the polls on this site  ;D
  13. The Gronk

    The Gronk Well-Known Member

    +37 /0
    Three statisticiams go hunting.  After a while they come across a big bear.  The first statistician takes a shot and misses, ten metres to the left.  The second one lines up and also misses, this time ten metres to the right.  The third one jumps up and down saying "I hit it!!! I hit it!!"

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