Previous editions of Fun With Statistics have seen us explore various distortions and misrepresentations of statistical data, but today’s post has a simple lesson: beware the fundamental knowledge of the media writer. From an article in the Albany Times-Union last week,
Half the nation’s families earn below the median family income of about $56,000.
Uh, yes. I guess that would be the case. I bet half of the nation’s families also earn above that same number. And an auditorium of journalists filled to half capacity is… half full… and half empty. Although they apparently wouldn’t understand why. Perhaps they could debate it a while and save us some drivel. Don’t get me started on drawing an analogy to the glass being half empty…
Just to ensure that full credit is truly given, this astounding feat of statistics-based persuasion was written by Kevin G. Hall of the McClatchy Newspapers. Believe it or not he’s an economics editor and his previous articles include the likes of Beachwear Crackdown Bares Paradox in Brazilian Culture. I hope that crack isn’t half… well, never mind.
What? A journalist displaying ignorance of the facts and a knack for pandering to the fears of his audience? I’m shocked. Shocked, I say!