Monday, December 04, 2006

Damn Lying Statistics!

In this week's Economist (Dec 2-8, 2006 issue), a letter writer notes that tobacco will kill more than 1 billion people. That's right, 1 billion. Quite a lot! But wait. The writer then qualifies the number with "this century." Now, that cetainly is a lot of people to kill in a century. But is it really worth exaggerating numbers in this way to make a point? Wouldn't 10 million per year have been a clearer way to say it? If someone is willing to play around with figures to further their particular cause, I tend to be skeptical of their cause.

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