Evolution of a Fuzzy Statistic

By Paul

US engineers.bmp

How many Chinese engineers are there? It depends on who you ask.

"Last year more than 600,000 engineers graduated from institutions of higher education in China," the report stated. "In India the figure was 350,000. In America, it was about 70,000." To dramatize the seriousness of the issue, the academies titled the 543-page report "Rising Above the Gathering Storm," an allusion to Winston Churchill's book "The Gathering Storm," about events leading up to World War II.”

As Gerald W. Bracey continues in a recent column in the Washington Post;

“Statistics that end up as conventional wisdom even when they're wrong usually become popular by being presented as fact in a highly visible and respected source -- such as a cover story in Fortune or a National Academies report.

Once a statistic has attained the status of something we all "know," it takes on a charmed life. It is hardly surprising that the National Academies report gave rise to many citations…”

Even when they are proved wrong, they’re unrepentant. That's why bloggers are important to spread the word for we cannot rely on Thomas Friedmans of the world to tell us the truth.

Related Links:

Outsourcing Report from the Duke University

Rising Above The Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future

Top Advisory Panel Warns of an Erosion of the U.S. Competitive Edge in Science

Sounding the Alarm With a Fuzzy Stat

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Post a comment