While these statistics might be technically true, they’re almost always cited out of context. Remember people, correlation does not equal causation! Read through to see if you cite any of these statistics out of context.
Comments have been edited for clarity. The source can be found the end of the article.
“You are more likely to be killed by a dog than by a shark.” While this is statistically true, it is only because we spend a lot more time around dogs. So saying this at a bbq is fine. But I laugh when you see people in movies who are fleeing a sinking boat, surrounded by sharks and someone turns to say this. Because as a subset of people currently in the water surrounded by sharks, this statistic does not apply to you!
“Murders and ice cream sales are linked. When ice cream sales rise, so do murders!”
It’s actually because people are more irritable in the heat, and so more likely to harm or kill someone. When warm weather rolls around, people buy more ice cream. Correlation =/= causation.
My local town council is good at this.
“Since the new lower speed limit has been introduced, road deaths in the city have been cut by 2/3.”
Yes, from four deaths last year to one this year. Far too small a number to prove anything. Plus, literally all four of those deaths were people who were either drunk, out of their senses on drugs and/or being chased by the police, so they wouldn’t have paid attention to the speed limit anyway.
Crime has gone up by 45K in Germany since the refugees came. Technically true, but what it leaves out is that it includes crimes of illegally crossing the border… committed by 45K people.
“Did you know that 29% of homeless people are women?”
Which is just another way of saying 71% of homeless people are men.
Broccoli has more protein than chicken.
While this is technically true BY CALORIE, you have to eat a lot more broccoli to get the same amount of protein as a smaller amount of chicken.
This much Vx, or Botulinum Toxin, or Super toxic Scary Poison, is enough to kill the entire population of City X.
Technically true if everyone lined up in an orderly fashion and received their lethal dose. Not true otherwise.
Condoms have a 2% failure rate.
While true, this is 2% over an entire year of sexual activity. Not for individual encounters.
People used to have an average life expectancy of maybe 40 years a couple of centuries ago. But it doesn’t account for high infant mortality. If you lived past 15, you’d probably live to at least 70.
Black people commit the most crime.
Most often when people cite things like this they look at conviction rates. Technically speaking the knowledge we have is “black people are more likely to be convicted.” Which is similar, but still different from “black people commit the most crimes.”
Police are more likely to patrol black neighborhoods increasing likely hood of getting caught or fast response times. Criminal courts are more likely convict a black man. Police are more likely to stop and apprehend black men. Forensic technicians are more likely to come out with “matches” when instructed by police that they are likely looking at the “perp.”
This is why single statistics never tell the whole story.
As the number of vaccines given increased over the years, so did the documented cases of autism.
This is a very dangerous one to take out of context, and we are living in the aftermath of just that.
That flying is the safest way of transportation. It is indeed the safest way per traveled kilometer, but not the safest way per hour or even per journey.
50+% of gamers are female.
I won’t argue it, but it is a generally useless statistic as it covers such a wide variety of genres of games and platforms.
It’s like pointing at Call of Duty and saying it should be more inclusive of women because 50% of gamers are female. Well, no, that doesn’t follow. The last statistic I read concerning the CoD playerbase was that women made up only around 10% of the total. That is a relevant statistic.
“People only use ten percent of their brains.”
Yes, at a given moment, possibly only ten percent of your brain is doing conscious thought. However, large portions of your brain are working unconsciously (heartbeat, breathing, etc). The other parts you do use, just not always at the same time.
Every time I see, “But the US has the best survival rates” I want to start screaming. Survival rates are meant to help patients understand their prospects individually. For comparing healthcare systems, you want to use mortality rates.
Mortality rates are calculated as the number of people that succumb to the disease a year. Survival rates are calculated as the average time a patient lives after a particular diagnosis. You can improve these rates by curing the disease, preventing death, or making the diagnosis earlier.
That last one is why the US survival rates are usually higher, because of so much early testing that they catch diseases earlier. When you compare the mortality rates, you see often times we’re not actually that much better, if at all, at treating it.
You are more likely to get into an accident within X miles of your home.
This is because people tend to drive to places within a short distance of their home.
The one about the last so many years being cooler than 1998, therefore climate change is a hoax.
They conveniently forget to mention that 1998 was abnormally hot due to an El Nino.
That the surface area of arctic ice is increasing. True, however the VOLUME of arctic ice is decreasing.
It’s melting, decreasing water temps causing more surface ice. Arctic ice is decreasing, period.
A fast man once said, “If you don’t go for a gap that exists, you are not a racing driver.”
People often seem to quote this without considering the same guy who said this was a very fast aggressive driver. He died after his car hit a wall at over a hundred miles an hour.
Yes, there’s a time to make a push. But you don’t get anything if you crash the car into a barrier except looking like a jerk, and potentially hurting yourself.
The one that made me think of this: 50% of all marriages end in divorce.
True, but considerably fewer when you only consider FIRST marriages.
Unemployment/food stamps/assistance, etc., went up under Obama.
On the surface, they were technically correct – the total number of people involved in one of these categories is larger. The only thing is we reference them as rates for a reason. The usage as a percentage denotes how the entire population of the US is doing. Population growth is a thing, and your absolute numbers are nearly always going to increase.
Gun death statistics include suicides and accidental deaths, which make up about 60% of gun deaths in the US. These numbers are often used to talk about murders with guns.
“Open secrets reports Senator Smith received $100,000 from Exxon.”
Technically true, but without explaining what OS’s methodology is, that sounds like a ton of money coming out of a corporate treasury. In reality that is the aggregate of donations from employees, because the corporation itself cannot donate.