Crime and Nearly Instant Communication

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How could graphics and/or statistics be used to misrepresent data? Where have you seen this done? The old saying goes, “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” In the age of nearly instant communication the old bait and switch is still alive and well in the world of statistical data and particularly so when that data is visually displayed. Perhaps the most common method of misrepresenting data is to only use a partial scale when displaying different results. Educational vendors often use this method to artificially enhance data. The method is to use only a portion of a 100% scale. In graphical displays such as this you will see a scale from 95 to 100% displayed rather than a full data range. By doing this the differences between a data point of 96 or 97 percent is greatly enhanced, a difference of a single point results in a 20%difference on the graphic being displayed. If the scale were accurate the difference between 96 and 97% on a scale of 100 is negligible. Another sample statistics can easily be manipulated to suit the facts that are trying to be portrayed by any particular interest. An example would be those who cite that Blacks commit more crimes than whites because of their disproportionate representation throughout the criminal justice system. This appears to be accurate and truthful on the surface, but when digging deeper, you will find that the reasons that Blacks and other minorities re overrepresented within the criminal justice system stems from the fact that they are arrested, sentenced, and incarcerated at far higher rates than Whites. Therefore, the statistics are invalid because the police officers target minorities more often for drug offenses, despite the fact that Whites use more drugs than minorities, and these minorities are also sentenced to prison more often than their white counterparts when arrested. Therefore, the statistics only reflect that minorities are treated unequally in the criminal justice system rather...
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