Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

A few years ago, I read a book by Joel Best called, “Damned Lies and Statistics.

The title is based on a phrase popularized by Mark Twain, though it’s origin isn’t firmly established….goes something like this:

“There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics”

The book began with what Best described as, “The Worst Social Statistic Ever.” The quote was, “Every year since 1950, the number of American children gunned down has doubled.”

When taken literally, that would mean that 35 trillion American children were gunned down between 1950-1995. What the author meant to say was that the total number of child deaths by firearms in 1950 was half what it was in the year 1995.

Surprisingly, the US population grew by some 73% from 1950 to 1995, so it would follow that other counts, such as deaths would also be about double. Point being that statistics should not be accepted blindly. That brings me to a new one I saw today floating around the interwebs:

More Americans were killed by guns since 1968 than on the battlefields of all the wars in American history.

The specific figures are based on estimates from PolitiFact.com:

  • Firearms-related deaths between 1968 and 2015 was about 1,516,863
  • The total number of casualties related to all wars in US history was approximately 1,396,733

I’m not being paid to do this, I don’t have a professional research staff, and my Terminator Robot isn’t programmed to do that for me…yet. So, rather than gather and correlate 47 years-worth of data, I’m just going to pick on 1968’s mortality rates instead.

According to the US Census Bureau, the population that year was approximately ~200,700,000. Referencing the Vital Statistics of the United States 1968 Volume II – Mortality Part A , the total death count was 1,930,082.

That’s over half a million more deaths than all of the American casualties of every US war in American history combined! Impressive, huh?

Of those, 9,425 people reportedly died from “firearms and explosives.” It doesn’t break that figure down to gun-related deaths only, nor does it distinguish between homicide, suicide, war or accidents. That’s accounts for a whole 0.488% of the total death count that year. This is about 1/6th the number of motor-vehicle deaths, which came to 54,862, or about 5.7 times as many deaths by vehicle as there were by firearms and explosives.

The point (if there is one) is this: I can quote unqualified, out-of-context statistics based on incomplete/erroneous “data” to make bogus conclusions too!

In Summary

  • Think for yourself. Don’t rely on eye-grabby statistics
  • Do your own homework and take other facets into consideration
  • Terminator robots aren’t a good source of important information…yet

Meat Puppetry: Photographs

“The last time we [Joe and Jim] were close enough to be photographed together, a gravitational singularity occurred. This resulted in the destruction of a small convenience store and goat farm in eastern Oregon. It’s for the best that we don’t post pictures now. Think of the goats.” – Big Jim, August 24, 2015

Quizzes

This morning, whilst eating my artificially-flavored cardboard doused in 2% milk (regularity helps stave off exposure to PowerPoint), I got a message from my new twitter friend, “Chistina M.” (@cmartinvacay). She wanted me to take her cool quiz, and promised me an awesome bonus!

A good relationship is all about reciprocity, so I replied:

I don’t usually do the quizzes, Chrissy, but I’ll make you a deal. Study my presentation on how PowerPoint is the Devil, answer the following question correctly and I will take your quiz.

Q1. Holding down CTRL + ALT while clicking the ‘π’ symbol in the lower right-hand corner of a Mozart’s Ghost-themed presentation will:

a. Give Sandra Bullock the power of Epilepsy
b. Summon Steve Ballmer
c. Cover Walt Mossberg in Crisco
d. All of the above
e. None of the above

I think that’s fair. Quid pro quo and all that mess!

PowerPoint is the Devil

Yes, your PowerPoint is the Devil!

No one should ever use it!  To make certain that this point is crystal clear, I’ve put together a brief, 13-slide PowerPoint Presentation, saved in PDF format, which, as everyone knows, is proof against it’s evil animated powers!

ppt_is_the_devil

Hello World!

draft

c:\>helloworld.bat

@ECHO OFF
:10
COLOR 05
ECHO HelL0 World!!!
COLOR 04
ECHO He1lo World!!!
COLOR 06
ECHO h3llo World!!!
COLOR 07
ECHO hEllo ~ World!!!
COLOR 02
ECHO hello w0rld!!!
COLOR 03
ECHO Hell0 Wor1d!!!
COLOR 01
ECHO HelLo WorlD!!!
GOTO 10

SPAM, meet Lead!

It’s amazing how soon comment spammers start creeping in so soon after a fresh site’s creation! While I give them a ‘D’ for determination, I’ve setup enough of these to know how to handle them…

antispam

Disclaimer: No worthless spambots or their masters were harmed in the making of the this post. Instead, an anti-spam plugin was deployed, and has discarded a metric crap tonne of junk comments…still, the illustration above looks like a lot more fun :)…