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.


Blogger og said...

Nicely put.

Welcome back. Now get to work!

10:49 AM  

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