The use and abuse of statistics

Real Clear Politics hosts a series of articles by economist Thomas Sowell regarding the use, abuse, promulgation and suppression of statistics for political purposes by agencies of the U.S. government and the British Home Office. For example:

Some years back, there was a great flurry in the liberal media because a study showed that (1) black pregnant women received prenatal care less often than white pregnant women and that (2) infant mortality rates were higher among blacks.

There were indignant editorials in the New York Times and the Washington Post blaming the government for not providing greater access to prenatal care in order to stop preventable deaths of infants.

After getting a copy of the original study, I discovered that in the same study —— on the very same page —— statistics showed that (1) Mexican American women received even less prenatal care than black women and that (2) infant mortality rates among Mexican Americans were no higher than among whites.

A few pages further on, statistics showed that American women of Chinese, Japanese and Filipino ancestry also received less prenatal care than white women —— and had lower infant mortality rates than whites.

Apparently prenatal care was not the answer, though it was the kind of answer that suited the mindset of the liberal media and provided an occasion for them to wax indignant.

He relates other of his insider's experiences with statistical shenanigans in part I, part II and part III of the series.

Please keep Dr. Sowell's observations and experiences in mind when you read this WaPo piece,  'Study Finds Immigrants Don't Hurt U.S. Jobs' — this being their write—up of the newly released study by the Pew Hispanic Center, 'Growth in the Foreign—Born Workforce and Employment of the Native Born.' This gem purports that illegal immigrant workers have had little or no effect on the employment of those born in the good ol' U.S. of A. You may want to recall that the Pew folks are the same ones who bought — I mean brought McCain and Feingold their campaign finance crusade on a silver platter by creating  the false impression that there was a ground swell of grassroots support for said 'reform' legislation.

What was it Mark Twain is said to have said about statistics?

Dennis Sevakis   8 12 06

Real Clear Politics hosts a series of articles by economist Thomas Sowell regarding the use, abuse, promulgation and suppression of statistics for political purposes by agencies of the U.S. government and the British Home Office. For example:

Some years back, there was a great flurry in the liberal media because a study showed that (1) black pregnant women received prenatal care less often than white pregnant women and that (2) infant mortality rates were higher among blacks.

There were indignant editorials in the New York Times and the Washington Post blaming the government for not providing greater access to prenatal care in order to stop preventable deaths of infants.

After getting a copy of the original study, I discovered that in the same study —— on the very same page —— statistics showed that (1) Mexican American women received even less prenatal care than black women and that (2) infant mortality rates among Mexican Americans were no higher than among whites.

A few pages further on, statistics showed that American women of Chinese, Japanese and Filipino ancestry also received less prenatal care than white women —— and had lower infant mortality rates than whites.

Apparently prenatal care was not the answer, though it was the kind of answer that suited the mindset of the liberal media and provided an occasion for them to wax indignant.

He relates other of his insider's experiences with statistical shenanigans in part I, part II and part III of the series.

Please keep Dr. Sowell's observations and experiences in mind when you read this WaPo piece,  'Study Finds Immigrants Don't Hurt U.S. Jobs' — this being their write—up of the newly released study by the Pew Hispanic Center, 'Growth in the Foreign—Born Workforce and Employment of the Native Born.' This gem purports that illegal immigrant workers have had little or no effect on the employment of those born in the good ol' U.S. of A. You may want to recall that the Pew folks are the same ones who bought — I mean brought McCain and Feingold their campaign finance crusade on a silver platter by creating  the false impression that there was a ground swell of grassroots support for said 'reform' legislation.

What was it Mark Twain is said to have said about statistics?

Dennis Sevakis   8 12 06