Tortured Numbers, Manufactured Lies and Fear-Mongering Media

The last few decades have shown us the immense progress in the field of Math, science, and technology. Scientists and economists are predicting with accuracy that is very close to the best.

Earlier our cosmologists were arguing whether our universe is 10 or 20 billion years old and not they argue about whether it’s 13.7 or 13.8 billion years old.

Some statistics and predictions are required to be precise so that science and relevant businesses can make use of data and make further progress.

So far so good, But the trouble begins when the correct stats and numbers are presented wrongly or compared in some out of context scenarios.

Most people use statistics the way a drunkard uses a lamp post, more for support than illumination -Mark Twain

Let’s take a stab at some analogies and later we will see how media gets these numbers right but play with headlines to grab our attention


Taleb’s Turkey Problem

A turkey is fed for 999 days by a farmer. Each fleeting day approves to its risk management subdivision that the farmer loves turkeys “with increased statistical significance.”

But on the 1,000th day, a little before Thanksgiving, the turkey is in for a big surprise.

What appeared to be a very safe and predictable life for the turkey was, in fact, a ticking time bomb.

So Turkeys have a lot to teach us about risk management

Let’s not be turkeys because just because you never died before, doesn’t make you immortal


Firefox and Chrome Users More Committed and Creative At Work than Safari or IE users?

Informed more than others, additional efforts, not following what’s default — Does that makes you more creative and committed — trivial things like browser type. I don’t even browse on my laptop these days. Mostly I use apps on mobile.

Michael Housman, the chief analytics officer at Cornerstone says “I think that the fact that you took the time to install Firefox on your computer shows us something about you. It shows that you’re someone who is an informed consumer,” and “You’ve made an active choice to do something that wasn’t default.”

Originals: How Non Confirmists Move the World book by Adam Grant, he says browser preference also tells a lot about the habits of the employees. Internet Explorer is the default browser on PC, while the computer comes pre-installed with Safari on a Mac. However, in spite of these default browsers, those actually who make the effort to download a Chrome or a Firefox browser exhibit resourcefulness and shows initiative that converts to the employee’s work principle.

Well, do you want to become more creative and committed — Just install Chrome or Mozilla

Fear-mongering Media (Though Most Are Relevant)

Even if it is irrational but fear sells. Sometimes it appears that media is a business of creating panic.

They play psychological tricks and manipulate our judgments. It also appears that they are successful in scanning our brains and uncover our deepest subconscious worries, weaknesses, and wishes.

Take a moment and read these headlines

  • Work Kills more People than War
  • That Stress Kills More People Than A Car Accident
  • Pollution kills more people than wars, obesity, smoking, malnutrition
  • Suicide kills more people than war every year
  • 464 people drowned in America in tubs, sometimes after falls, in 2013, while 17 were killed here by terrorists in 2014
  • Alcohol Kills Nearly 3x Time More American Each Year Than Guns
  • Another BBC news More people die of drug misuse than on the roads
  • Potholes killed 10 people daily in 2017. Terrorism killed 2
  • Environmental pollution — from filthy air to contaminated water — is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world.
  • More Americans Died of Poisoning Than in Car Crashes in 2008
  • Radon Kills More People Than Drunk Driving

Nuclear Energy Is Safer Than Other Types ( Yes, That Is True)

Nuclear energy scores lowest on both short- and long-term mortality related to energy creation. It’s valued that up to 1.8 million air-pollution-related deaths were avoided between 1971–2009 as a result of producing energy with nuclear power plants rather than existing alternatives

Overreacting To Terrorism

It is not a political or statistical question. It is human psychology because it based on bad human intent. In countries like US people are not accustomed to it so terrorism threat carries a lot of fear among citizens.

With the increased use of social media and 24 hours breaking news on TV, terrorism gets more attention. The complete broad spectrum of fears include fears related to the environment, health, finances, natural disasters, the government and terrorism


Some Fun

▶ A recent survey of North American males found 42% were overweight, 34% were critically obese and 8% ate the survey — Basky

▶ Errors using inadequate data are much less than those using no data at all — Charles Babbage

▶ One out of every four people is suffering from some form of mental illness. Check three friends. If they’re OK, then it’s you — Rita Mae Brown