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Showing posts from December, 2005

"The Worst Statistic Ever"

In a book I just finished (and can't really recommend) "Damned Lies and Statistics" the author quotes what he thinks is the worst statistic ever.

In a Ph.D. prospectus a student apparently said "Every year since 1950, the number of American children gunned down has doubled."

This he apparently got from a scientific journal which in turn reworded a statement made by Children's Defense Fund in 1994 - "The number of American children killed each year by guns has doubled since 1950."

Quite a bit different.

The author points out the two blatant mistakes - one of geometric progression - if the number had truly doubled every year, it would by now be in the trillions.

The other mistake is not really a mistake but an omission - the overall population increased 73% over that period or almost doubled and with higher proportion of overall population being children, the number of deaths caused by guns may not have proportionately increased at all.