Of the Misuse of Data


Sometimes lies are subtle, but other times they are so egregious that that I’m dumbfounded that it was even attempted.

The most common method of lying in research is to assert a causal link is a causal link. For instance baseball begins every spring, and flowers bloom every spring.  So there is a casual link between baseball and flowers. But would anyone say that baseball causes flowers to bloom?  Of course not.

But this fatally flawed reasoning is used all the time. I’ve written pointing out that although teens who have more sex partners are more likely to have drug abuse problems does not mean (as some claim) that teen sex leads to drug abuse.  The correct interpretation is that the same factors that lead teens to have more sexual partners overlap with the reasons teens have drug problems.

In the case of our baseball illustration, it is the end of winter and the warming weather that brings both baseball and flowers.

Today on FoxNews.com I saw this phony logic taken to a new high.

In this chart it is showing that the recession driving rise in unemployment happened at the same time that the minimum wage law automatically made several steps to bring it back into historical buying power.

The article implies the minimum wage caused the recession; a total and complete falsehood. A falsehood that is so stupid and so transparent that I can’t believe they published it.   The article doesn’t’ say that minimum wage rising caused the recession, but the graphic is designed to work on an emotional level. This is reprehensible.

I’ve bashed other news sources for manipulation of news in the past. What sets this apart is the fact it is a prima facia case, no background knowledge is required to know it’s intentionally deceptive. So they are being both dishonest and stupid. Wow!


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