Stats, Graphs, and Wizardry

Statistics is a funny science because one of the first things statisticians usually do -- when speaking to novices or introducing their subject -- is warn you about their discipline. So even though statisticians don't always quote this well-known line from Benjamin Disraeli themselves, here it is anyway:

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

One of the reasons why people should be suspicious of stats is that many people -- especially Leftists -- have told us to be so. Nonetheless, in the case of the Leftists just mentioned, they are usually only talking about the stats which work against their own ideologies or causes. When they work in their favor, then, of course, 'stats never lie'.

Take the case of the British Labour Party's deliberate policy of flooding Britain with a mass of immigrants (around three million between 1997 and 2010) in order to transform the country from being a 'hideously white' hell into the multicultural Island of Bliss we have today. (The other major reason for such mass immigration was -- in the words of one Labour Party politician involved in this huge experiment at the time -- 'to rub the nose of the Right in diversity.') In order to help that massive piece of social engineering along (which was on such a scale that even Josef Stalin would have been impressed) the Labour Party needed the help of abundant stats and graphs in order to make blue seem green and 1 + 1 equal 3.

The thing about the endless citation of stats and graphs by Leftist, Labour and other propagandists is that other 'experts', even multitudes of them, could quite easily come along --and they often do -- with just as many stats and graphs which work directly against all the positions and causes they are trying to advance or support with their own. That's the thing about statistics -- they can be made to say just about anything.

The fact is that many people are clearly using stats and graphs politically and ideologically. What I mean by that is such people start off with a set of ideological and political positions (on immigration, racism, employment, etc.), and then apply stats to them. The ideology or politics comes first and then the stats and graphs dress up or justify the ideology or political position/cause.

This isn't an argument that 'all statistics lie' or even that there's no place for statistics in political debate. It's just an argument for being skeptical about them. Indeed Leftists -- and not just self-described Marxists -- often give a similar warning about theory and ideology. They advise us to 'take note of the ideological or theoretical underpinnings of what people say.' Of course the implicit assumption here, again, is that the ideological or theoretical underpinnings of what Leftists say should be either ignored or embraced.

'Most groomers and paedophiles are white, not Muslim'

Hah! That classic British soundbite and also a classic statistical deceit. (
Click here for some context on this.)

Take a fictional town or city in which only one percent of the population is Muslim. Of course most sexual groomers and paedophiles in that town or city will be white. Now say there are five percent Muslims in that town or city; the same will likely be true in that case too. You can keep this argument up even until the overall percentage of Muslims in the town is as much as 30 percent. If the percentages equalize any more than that, though, then the situation will indeed change. Then that opening phrase above will start to make some sense and be somewhat more politically legitimate.

If in that first example of 1% Muslims in the overall population, Muslims also made up 1% of the figures for sexual grooming, that would be what you would expect. However, the chances are that Muslim groomers, as a percentage of all groomers, would greatly exceed 1%.

Consider the real cases of places where Muslims make up from 1.7% (Colchester), to 24.7% (Bradford), all the way to 36% (Tower Hamlets) of the overall population; often the ratios are far higher when it comes to sexual offenders (especially in the case of sexual grooming). For example, there are cases in which Muslims make up 5% percent of a town or city yet account for nearly all sexual groomers.

In others words, simply citing the percentage of the overall population of a town or city who are Muslim groomers or paedophiles will be misleading, and the same goes for the entire UK. What has to be stated is the percentage of groomers or paedophiles who are Muslims, not how many Muslims groomers there are in a town/city or in the UK as a whole. That makes a big difference.

For example, according to Al Jazeera, this was the reality in 2013 (29th June):

"[A study] done in 2011 looked at 2,300 potential offenders who had been caught grooming. Of the 940 whose race could be identified, 26 percent were Asian, while 38 percent were white."

Now here we see another problem -- that ubiquitous and insulting term (to the Chinese, Indians, Japanese, etc.) -- 'Asian'. It is clear that almost all of these 'Asian' groomers were Muslims. In addition we can ask: What about Arabic, Kurdish, Turkish, North African, etc. Muslim groomers -- were they classed as 'Asian' too?

Instead of percentages, we can express the reality in terms of numbers. For example, another survey found that 367 groomers were white and 346 were 'Asian' (yes, that term again!). Again, even though the numbers and proportion of Muslims are very high, the areas or towns and cities we are talking about will still need to be addressed too.

Conclusion

Of course stats and graphs look sexy. Or at least they look vaguely academic and serious. So what can happen -- though not always -- is that they are used to impress us or to bolster a pre-existing political or ideological case which was otherwise -- up until their use -- completely free of stats and numbers. This is a kind of fake objectivity or even a mild case of scientism. You find this phenomenon all over the place: from the legions of commonplace philosophy students (as well as some professors) who tart up their work with logical symbols, Ps and Qs and various visual 'schema' (when they're simply not needed), to academics who place at least ten footnotes at the bottom of each page and a thousand references at the end of each paper. Nonetheless, these things can indeed be necessary and useful in academic literature (or even outside academia). However, they are still often used to bowl people over or to hoodwink us.

Statistics is a funny science because one of the first things statisticians usually do -- when speaking to novices or introducing their subject -- is warn you about their discipline. So even though statisticians don't always quote this well-known line from Benjamin Disraeli themselves, here it is anyway:

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

One of the reasons why people should be suspicious of stats is that many people -- especially Leftists -- have told us to be so. Nonetheless, in the case of the Leftists just mentioned, they are usually only talking about the stats which work against their own ideologies or causes. When they work in their favor, then, of course, 'stats never lie'.

Take the case of the British Labour Party's deliberate policy of flooding Britain with a mass of immigrants (around three million between 1997 and 2010) in order to transform the country from being a 'hideously white' hell into the multicultural Island of Bliss we have today. (The other major reason for such mass immigration was -- in the words of one Labour Party politician involved in this huge experiment at the time -- 'to rub the nose of the Right in diversity.') In order to help that massive piece of social engineering along (which was on such a scale that even Josef Stalin would have been impressed) the Labour Party needed the help of abundant stats and graphs in order to make blue seem green and 1 + 1 equal 3.

The thing about the endless citation of stats and graphs by Leftist, Labour and other propagandists is that other 'experts', even multitudes of them, could quite easily come along --and they often do -- with just as many stats and graphs which work directly against all the positions and causes they are trying to advance or support with their own. That's the thing about statistics -- they can be made to say just about anything.

The fact is that many people are clearly using stats and graphs politically and ideologically. What I mean by that is such people start off with a set of ideological and political positions (on immigration, racism, employment, etc.), and then apply stats to them. The ideology or politics comes first and then the stats and graphs dress up or justify the ideology or political position/cause.

This isn't an argument that 'all statistics lie' or even that there's no place for statistics in political debate. It's just an argument for being skeptical about them. Indeed Leftists -- and not just self-described Marxists -- often give a similar warning about theory and ideology. They advise us to 'take note of the ideological or theoretical underpinnings of what people say.' Of course the implicit assumption here, again, is that the ideological or theoretical underpinnings of what Leftists say should be either ignored or embraced.

'Most groomers and paedophiles are white, not Muslim'

Hah! That classic British soundbite and also a classic statistical deceit. (
Click here for some context on this.)

Take a fictional town or city in which only one percent of the population is Muslim. Of course most sexual groomers and paedophiles in that town or city will be white. Now say there are five percent Muslims in that town or city; the same will likely be true in that case too. You can keep this argument up even until the overall percentage of Muslims in the town is as much as 30 percent. If the percentages equalize any more than that, though, then the situation will indeed change. Then that opening phrase above will start to make some sense and be somewhat more politically legitimate.

If in that first example of 1% Muslims in the overall population, Muslims also made up 1% of the figures for sexual grooming, that would be what you would expect. However, the chances are that Muslim groomers, as a percentage of all groomers, would greatly exceed 1%.

Consider the real cases of places where Muslims make up from 1.7% (Colchester), to 24.7% (Bradford), all the way to 36% (Tower Hamlets) of the overall population; often the ratios are far higher when it comes to sexual offenders (especially in the case of sexual grooming). For example, there are cases in which Muslims make up 5% percent of a town or city yet account for nearly all sexual groomers.

In others words, simply citing the percentage of the overall population of a town or city who are Muslim groomers or paedophiles will be misleading, and the same goes for the entire UK. What has to be stated is the percentage of groomers or paedophiles who are Muslims, not how many Muslims groomers there are in a town/city or in the UK as a whole. That makes a big difference.

For example, according to Al Jazeera, this was the reality in 2013 (29th June):

"[A study] done in 2011 looked at 2,300 potential offenders who had been caught grooming. Of the 940 whose race could be identified, 26 percent were Asian, while 38 percent were white."

Now here we see another problem -- that ubiquitous and insulting term (to the Chinese, Indians, Japanese, etc.) -- 'Asian'. It is clear that almost all of these 'Asian' groomers were Muslims. In addition we can ask: What about Arabic, Kurdish, Turkish, North African, etc. Muslim groomers -- were they classed as 'Asian' too?

Instead of percentages, we can express the reality in terms of numbers. For example, another survey found that 367 groomers were white and 346 were 'Asian' (yes, that term again!). Again, even though the numbers and proportion of Muslims are very high, the areas or towns and cities we are talking about will still need to be addressed too.

Conclusion

Of course stats and graphs look sexy. Or at least they look vaguely academic and serious. So what can happen -- though not always -- is that they are used to impress us or to bolster a pre-existing political or ideological case which was otherwise -- up until their use -- completely free of stats and numbers. This is a kind of fake objectivity or even a mild case of scientism. You find this phenomenon all over the place: from the legions of commonplace philosophy students (as well as some professors) who tart up their work with logical symbols, Ps and Qs and various visual 'schema' (when they're simply not needed), to academics who place at least ten footnotes at the bottom of each page and a thousand references at the end of each paper. Nonetheless, these things can indeed be necessary and useful in academic literature (or even outside academia). However, they are still often used to bowl people over or to hoodwink us.