« Home | The Blame Game » | Alexander the Gay? » | Thinking of a Career Change? » | Observations » | A Country By Any Other Name... » | SeaWitch's 10 Most Wanted List » | Pornography: Harmful or Harmless? » | So you think you know English? » | Conversing with an Immigrant: Basics 101 » | All Bark and No Bite » 

Thursday, November 25, 2004 

Spinning the Statistics

Last night, I heard on the radio that Greece was ranked as one of the top countries in the world to live in according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. My husband even fell for it. A little bit of misrepresentation goes a long way. That one little factoid made him forget that Greece is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, has lied to get into the Euro zone and is still rife with corruption and bureacracy.

There are 101 ways to read statistics. In this particular case, Greece ranked #22 in the list with Ireland in the #1 position. At first glance, being #22 is nothing to be jubilant about but considering it was ranked #27 last year in the same report, at least they've moved up in the rankings. If you consider other country surveys (OECD, HDI), Greece is usually at the bottom or next to last in the European Union. Of course, they don't announce those statistics or even refer to them. It's all in how you present it. What you leave out is often more important than what you announce.

Another example is Canada. Canada is all proud of itself because it ranked #1 for the best place to do business in the world. Canadians can be proud that their country was listed #4 on the HDI Best Countries report. No one is reminded that for almost a decade..1992-2001, Canada was ranked #1. It fell 3 spots. So, it's actually worse than it was 10 years ago.

Israel also considers itself one of the best countries to live in because they place #22 on the HDI report. ..2 places ahead of Greece. So what if you're constantly being attacked and attacking, you made the Top 30!

You can spin these statistics any which way you want to make them work for you. If you're low on the lists, then you just rattle off the countries who are worse off than you without giving your actual ranking in the complete list. This makes it look as if you're the #1 country in the world to live in if the list is of 10 countries. It would read something like this:
  1. Egypt
  2. Azerbaijan
  3. Kazakhstan
  4. Vietnam
  5. Ukraine
  6. Pakistan
  7. Algeria
  8. Venezuela
  9. Iran
  10. Nigeria
Or if you're second to last on the list, you just tell the masses that last year you were at the bottom. And even if you're on the bottom of any list, you still have options. Don't mention the list at all or attack the people who made the list and have a big parade and a day off work to celebrate your complete independence from the lemmings who worry about the list. Or you can make your own list and place yourself at the top of it based on completely irrelevant or false indicators.

Author's Note: Sovereignty of SeaWitch has been named the Best Blog according to Blogger Intelligence Unit. (A subsidiary of Sovereignty of SeaWitch)

A well deserved name, congrats.

Post a Comment