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Soc - Gun Statistics

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Stephanie Minshew
SOC-1101-51
SPR – 2014

Final Exam: Joel Best - Damned Lies

In the book, Damned Lies and Statistics by Joel Best, Best provides information for people to be able to critically think about social statistics. He pinpoints some common complications with social statistics and provides examples to define his points. By providing examples, it makes understanding the problem easier than by just general statements. He gives the reader tools they can use in every day instances regarding statistics. Making sure that the reader knows how to ask basic questions about statistics they hear. This helps us to understand how sometimes numbers can become mangled within communication. That one cannot compare apples to oranges, that comparison must be fair. That we must be analytical, and critical of numbers, but to also not become naïve or cynical.

I absolutely loved his explanation for the way society is often innumerate. He provided a perfect example of how many people don’t process the concept of large numbers. As his example he used a small child and a penny. To a child a penny is a lot of money, but to an older child a penny is not a lot of money. In the same aspect, if you ask an older child if one hundred dollars is a lot of money they would most likely agree that a hundred bucks is a lot of money, but to an adult it’s most likely not a lot of money. That to most people big numbers blend together. There are huge implications to being innumerate. Because some many people have issues in contemplating big numbers, they really can’t grasp the severity, or non-severity of an issue. In this example the conflicts between the Regan administration and activists, the estimate numbers were 300,000 homeless to 3,000,000 homeless persons. Knowing the difference between these two numbers is like knowing if you will have 3 people over for dinner, or 30 people...

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