22.143% of Americans hop on one foot, twice a day…

So, there’s a new book- one that will probably tick you off.  Not because it’s annoying, but because, if you are like most people, you had no idea that the facts reported in the paper (and CERTAINLY on the web) are highly suspect. The book:  Sex, Drugs, and Body Counts:  the Politics of Numbers in Global Crime and Conflict, by Peter Andreas with Kelly Greenhill.  (If you want to buy the book, you can find it here.)

Whether you are from the left or the right- or even the middle- you know that “numbers” are strewn about in discussions.  The problem is that no one really verifies they are correct.  It reminds me of one fellow at St. Elmo’s (my local coffee shop, where a group of us pontificate often) who routinely invents numbers and facts to interject into our discussions.  At this point in time, I avoid listening to him.  But, he is just emblematic of most of the data we hear cited in political debates. [At this point in time, I should tell you, I work assiduously to check my facts.  You are welcome to double check them.  I have always hated fake “facts” and I am working very hard here to remove politics from this portion of my essay.]

We need to understand where the numbers arise.  We ALL need to use a “reasonableness” test- “Does this really make sense?”  Sometimes, when you change the percentages you hear into real numbers (for example, one newspaper quote this week is that 1.4 million Americans have been unemployed for 99 weeks or more out of 14.6 million unemployed and 6.7 million have been unemployed for 26 weeks or more- and these are only the people looking for work), you are struck at the “unreasonableness” of the statement

The authors state numbers used in drug enforcement and Al Qaeda financials.    But, I would rather focus on a few other areas.  In the 60’s, our government provided us with body counts to show us how well we were doing in the VietNam War.  Now, I am resorting to hyperbole here, but we must have killed every man, woman, and child in VietNam as we prosecuted that war.  Or, to cite a more recent occurrence- how much oil was being released a day by the BP fiasco in the Gulf?  As the authors assert, sometimes I don’t know is the best answer…

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About RAAckerman@Cerebrations.biz

A polymath whose interests span chemical engineering, medicine, biotechnology, business, management, among other areas. Among my inventions/developments: dialyzer, dialysate, neurosurgical drill, respiratory inspirometer, colon electrolyte lavages, urinary catheters, cardiac catheters, water reuse systems, drinking water system, ammonia degrading microbes, toxic chemical reduction via microbes, onsite waste water treatment, electronic health care information systems, bookkeeping and accounting programs, among others.
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One Response to 22.143% of Americans hop on one foot, twice a day…

  1. Pingback: One Direction – Twitter Questions – Atlanta, GA – June 26, 2012 | Best 2012 Songs

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