Friday, 8 June 2012

Blip: 2000 Views!: I'm going to beat my wife to death.

Some statistic has been released and is now being misrepresented across the news: Men are more likley to beat their wives (even to death) during football matches. Thus, if we are to believe the news' interpretation of this, given that there is now a football match on (Greece v. Poland) it's only a matter of time before I complete watching the rest of the match while sitting next to the bruised corpse of Pop.

The point I'm raising here is one of statistics and their misappropriation to facts. When a scientist or another form of researcher commits to a piece of research, it is often based on torrents of other research, of other people's conclusions and their own interpretations of others' work, on theories that have stood the test of time as well as recent experimental theories, on countless journal articles and accrued knowledge in their given field. 

Also, their research or experiment in particular isn't intended to blow the field wide open and change the world, only to give one more piece of evidence and their own thoughts on what the results mean for the field in general. That way, their research adds to the ever-growing pile of evidence that can be analysed to find a unifying theory that encompasses as much as what has been seen as possible. In this way, we can see that science, contrary to popular belief, is a slow moving behemoth, a trundling great device of many arms, discovering everything that it can, testing all it knows to try to grasp what may be a better form of truth than the one we currently hold.

The media, as well as popular opinion, would suggest otherwise. They would suggest that a scientist gets a grant and starts working on a project out of nowhere with a view to "cure cancer" or perhaps "find the Higg's Boson Particle" when, in actual fact, major discoveries occur in the middle of research projects in that subject designed only to increase the span of knowledge. When a scientist publishes their report on things, it should only be viewed by scientists and other members of that industry that know what they're looking at.

If you don't have the experience or the knowledge to properly analyse results of a scientific finding, you will only end up misrepresenting the truth, or at least the version of the truth that the report is supporting. It is because of this that people have such a warped view of science. It is also down to statisticians.

It is bad enough for a layman to read a scientific report and come out with some terrible theory on what it means, not taking the larger context into account. What's worse is analysing it statistically. Statistics are a politcal tool used to misrepresent information, the whole point of them is that it is easy to put your spin on it because statistics takes out key pieces of information required to understand the full implications.

For example, if a statistical report comes out stating that men are twice as likely to find a job upon leaving school than women, you may well believe it on face value. Look into how they came to this conclusion, though, and the results are worryingly inaccurate. Usually it will come from a report looking into the vocational habits of educational graduates and the statistics in question will simply be that a thousand women got jobs right away after leaving school but two thousand men, twise as much, got jobs after school too. 

Upon first glance it's easy to see the first problem but there are others too: 

-It relies on a relatively small group of people that can't be applied to the whole country

-Due to this, it is not only unrepresentative but also manipulatable, a politician could easily find one thousand jobless women and one thousand employed men and as such say that no women in the country work but all men do

-It ignores all surrounding information that has an effect on this matter, for example: how many of those women wanted jobs but couldn't find one compared to the amount that simply didn't look for jobs because they didn't want or need a job, how many of them were skilled upon leaving school and of course the same goes for the men. The report doesn't take this into account and as such doesn't provide a fair view

-Also, what about the manner with which they left school? I think if they looked into it, they would see that most of the women who got a job left school at a decent age with decent grades but it has chosen to ignore education as a factor

-Finally, on a metaphysical note, the past does not, in any way, predict the future. I understand that if you show me a ball falling in the same way under experiment conditions thousands of times that more than likely it will do it again and again but nonetheless the future can never be predicted, thus, if 50% of women get a job after school, the fact stands for tiself, it does not mean you, as a woman, have a 50% chance of finding a job. That's just a layman's interpretation.

Back to the statistic I opened with. Apparently, domestic abuse is much more common during football matches and as such women should run for the hills from their husbands. Or perhaps we should look at it properly:

-Many people, especially in England, care a great deal about football, about the lay of the game and the outcome of each match

-Most people will get emotional and stressed when confronted with something they love, especially something with a competitive, win/lose edge to it

-When emotionally heightened and stressed, tensions build and when tensions build, people lash out and get grumpy

-Thus it naturally follows that during a football match, people will be more tense and will get pissed off more, this will lead to more domestic abuse

-It also follows that although men may commit more domestic abuse, given that plenty of women love football too, the likelihood of domestic abuse either way around will increase but the news loves to portray the feminist view and stand against men

If this has touched you in just the smallest of ways please do something to change this sad state of affairs: Next time someone assaults you with a ham-handed assessment of some biased statistics, laugh at them and explain why they're speaking moronic gibberish or, quite simply, send them here.

Please, Pop's life depends on it.

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