Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Lies, Damn Lies...

... and Statistics.

I think i got that saying from Kim, but I'm not positive. I'll give him credit for it anyway.

What made me think of this was tonight, on my way home from Dad's, listening to a conservative talk show, and the topic was porn.

Now, I don't have a horse in this race. I'll keep my own views on porn to myself, but I say that as far as gov't is concerned, if it's not children, it's not their business.

This caller was saying how evil porn is, and one of the "facts" he spouted is that "46* percent of all teenage sexual offenders have viewed hardcore porn".

* I think it was 46%, but I may be misremembering. I know it was forty-something.

It took me about a half second to poke five minute's worth of talking's holes in his argument. I nearly called the talk show, despite my self-imposed prohibition on talking on cellphones while driving.

Now, I'm going to work with 46%, although I am not sure that's what was said. If I'm off, it's only by 3-5%, so give my numbers that fudge factor (or margin of error, as the poll-guessers call it).

First and foremost: if 46% of all teen sex offenders have viewed hardcore porn, that means 54% of all teen sex offenders have NOT viewed hardcore porn. In other words, hardcore porn has influenced LESS THAN HALF of all teen sex offenders.

IF you can show causality.

Which he didn't.

At all.

The statistic spouted by the antiporn crusader, that 46% of all teen sex offenders have viewed hardcore porn, is a statistic in a vacuum. In other words, it's meaningless.

Here's a statistic that, while I haven't researched it, I'd bet my next paycheck on: over 90% of all teen sex offenders have eaten at McDonald's more than three times.

HOLY CRAP, BATMAN!!! We need to ban teens from McDonald's!!!!!!1one!!!

Or, no... we can recognize that commonality DOES NOT EQUAL causality.

Here's another statistic, and this one I can guarantee is true: 100% of all teen sex offenders have used a chemical substance consisting of 98% nitrogen and oxygen, within seconds of committing their particular crime.

Should we ban that substance?

I'm sure some city council in California could be convinced to, until they realized they'd be banning AIR.

Here's where some critical thought comes in: I want to know what percentage of ALL teens (if you could get honest answers) have viewed hardcore porn, vs what percentage of ALL teens are teen sex offenders. THAT might be a statistic that has a little meat to chew on and think about.

As opposed to the empty-headed quote on the radio.

Before anybody launches a bunch of hatemail, I'll repeat... I don't have a horse in this race. I can look at porn, or I can delete the spam in my email; I'm a grownup and not easily offended (except by stupidity). As long as the porn doesn't involve minors or people photographed against their will, I DO NOT CARE. I have a REAL problem with people using made-up statistics, or statistic in a vacuum, to try to prove a point, and I'll call them out every time, which is what this post is about.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A plan for Iraq?

This week I've been in a training class that requires me to drive about 60 miles each way, right through the middle of the DFW metroplex. So, plenty of time to listen to the radio. Specifically, talk radio.

Now, I think we're doing ok in Iraq. We're bringing the Iraqi forces up to speed, and bit by bit, handing things over to them. That's as it should be.

But the violence between the Sunnis and Shias is a problem, and it doesn't seem to be going away any time soon.

I heard an idea on the radio while driving home today. Sorry, I don't remember which radio show it was, so I can't give proper credit... I think it was 820AM WBAP, around 5pm or 5:30pm if anyone wants to go look it up.

The idea was this: a national Iraqi gov't, with separate areas and governments for each of the primary groups: Shia, Sunni, and Kurd.

At first, it sounded like "Break Iraq into 3 nations", something Turkey has a BIG problem with, and would likely result in more fighting.

BUT... when I thought about it, it could also be set up very much like our own system of government here in America.

Iraq could be made of three states, each with their own state government, and on top of that, a Federal Iraqi government which would oversee things that affect the whole country, such as oil production.

VERY much like our own system of federalism.

Possibly with a two-house Parliament, like Britain's Parliament or our Congress.

Yanno, it's worked for us (fairly well) for better than 200 years. Iraq could do worse.

Still Alive!

Sorry for the lack of posts.

Og wrote to ask if I was ok, I told him I was, just busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.

Or, as someone else wrote recently (was it Og? I honestly don't remember), "The alligators are winning".

This summer's been a bit rough. Two-year anniversary of our son's death, one-year anniversary of Daddy's death, busting ass on remodeling Daddy's house, on top of all the normal things that need taking care of, and I've spent 3 weeks in August in training classes (one week of which was just outside San Francisco).

So yeah, a bit busy, and I just really haven't had much to say. I think that's starting to change, though... got hit with something that made me think driving back from Plano today, and that'll be in the next post.

Hope all of you are doing well, and thanks for sticking around through the hiatus.