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Statistics are Misleading in the Media - Essay Example

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In today's utterly globalized and digitalized scenario, numerical data and statistics constitute an integral part of the media reports. In fact the publishers find it really cool to bolster their stories with statistical facts (Frisk 1). A basic definition of statistics considers it to be a science that involves the "collection, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data (Frisk 1)." Hence the glaring question that attracts the attention of any astute readers is that do the journalists possess the technical knowhow and expertise to present the statistical data in an objective and logical fashion Off course it is a known fact that a majority of the readers who rely on media reports for g…
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Statistics are Misleading in the Media
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Download file to see previous pages Many of the unsuspecting readers are often oblivious of the fact that people creating and quoting statistics do have personal agendas and vested interests (Hodges 2). Thus most of the social statistics is often colored by such devious intentions. The journalists in their zeal for bolstering on the issue under consideration do tend to exaggerate or subdue the available statistical findings (Calif 2). Many a times the entities like governments, political parties and NGOs purposely furnish tainted statistical data and studies so as to accentuate or dilute a specific issue. Thus it is important for any discerning citizen to investigate the basic parameters surrounding a statistical quote that is the entity who created a statistical study (Best 27), the purpose for which a given statistical data was created (Best 28) and the manner in which a statistical research was carried out (Best 29). Sad, but true, many of the subscribers are mostly not so astute, systematic and methodical in their analysis of the statistics published in media and are therefore vulnerable to ending up with faulty perceptions, false notions and misguided views.
It is really imperative to understand the dynamics by which statistics is exaggerated, downplayed or manipulated by the media to send a specific message to the masses. Many a statistical studies prefer to choose the samples as per their convenience (Best 52). The samples for statistical studies are often chosen by the media in a non scientific way and at random that go well with their limited budgetary resources. Hence such samples fail to represent the total population and do yield false conclusions. Besides the statisticians hired by the media houses are oft deficient in the expertise to wean out the mutations incorporated while sampling a population.
There is no denying the fact that the statistical studies conducted in an academic environment are not bound by the compulsion to yield black and white results. It is a reality that if an academic study ends up with open ended conclusions, the researchers do prefer to leave them as such and never rush in to deduce faulty hypothesis. However, this is not always true so far as media reports are concerned. Most of the media reports by their very nature are expected and bound to give concrete conclusions underlying a statistical study. Thus when the journalists are pushed by their voracious readers to yield results, they often do not hesitate from culling out nonrealistic guesses from the available statistical figures (Best 32). In fact, to sensationalize their news reports, media houses even go to the extent of exaggerating or downplaying the results attributed to a given statistical study. If nothing else, commercial success is often too big a motivation to prevent them ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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