Thursday, August 26, 2010

statistic* = 64% of problems result from invalid, irrelevant statistics

from Tuesday evening
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I put down my food to write this.

Like, you have no idea. I'm looking into my plate beside me and staring at that last chicken nugget, hot and waiting for me to send it down the passage to my stomach.

I put down my chicken nugget, to write about how fucking sick I am of the news (and all other bored individuals) making up and printing statistics to simply "spread news" while in reality they are promoting stereotypes and wasting my time when I could be learning about real news.

I was in the last stretch of World News Tonight, enjoying those savory ass chicken nuggets, when I was unfortunately subjected to seeing the quick blip about "a new statistic" that was to be reported, to my vexation.

The news wanted to find out who in the country used their phones more--well, who cares? Of course, the "new statistics" were nothing new--the South talks on the phone more, African-Americans talk 44 minutes more than whites, women speak 22% more than men, and teenagers send 92 more text messages than their parents.

Seriously? Maybe I'm just feeling snarky because I can feel snarky, but really, are any of those statistics relevant to anything? I just have a problem because it plays into stereotypes that society continues to perpetuate, and then complain about.

A). The South will talk you to death, whereas the North will curse you for talking to them
B). Black people are always talking, always, always talking
C). Women talk too damn much
D). Teenagers have nothing better to do than to be on the phone

Tell me you've never heard of those stereotypes, or heard someone say something regarding spoken stereotypes, or that you've never seen someone play one of these stereotypes out, and I'll call you a damn liar. I just think studies like this are stupid, because they are always comparing the same typical categories, and affirming the same binary opposition that people are trying to break down. That the South and North are so drastically opposite, that Blacks and Whites are always opposite, that women and men are always opposite, and that the new generation and the young generation are so opposite.

Don't get me wrong--yes, men and women are different. Trust, Blacks and Whites are very different. But that's all on the surface. How are we ever going to get to a place where we look at people as people if the news keeps sending little statistics like this our way---and if we keep paying attention?

Besides, statistics only represent the group which was polled. Which certainly wasn't all teenagers or all Southerners. In fact, the statistical poll is theoretically null and void because the people who responded to the survey are probably people whom already use their phone more often than everyone else anyway.

Thus, back to my chicken nugget, probably cold by now, shaking my head all the way.

*--I have no problem with statistics that actually offer me useful information. It's just that statistics have started to be thrown around so often that I can't really tell whether these statistics are even useful. Plus, as I already stated, statistics are supposed to be used as a general representation of society, but statistics really only measure the group that was polled, which is never everyone, and probably not that representative of society (or groups within society) anyway.

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