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Numbers don’t lie but people do

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Or anyway, they babble political correctness and call it accuracy. We looked at the “Goldilocks number” used to manipulate public opinion. In “The Marginalization of Christians continues in Canada” (May 21, 2011), journalist and author Michael Coren talks about politically correct manipulation of crowd numbers. For example, the government broadcaster, tax-funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation underestimates the crowd for pro-life rallies by multiples; in the case Coren mentions, CBC underestimated by 200%. But it overestimated the Gay Pride parade in Toronto by five times the police figure:

We can only thank our publicly funded stars that the same network — joined by most others in the mainstream media — tells us every year that more than a million people attend the gay pride parade in Toronto, when the police privately inform journalists that 200,000 is closer to the mark. For a million people to be present, the crowd would have to stretch from the southern tip of Toronto to Barrie, Ont., more than 100 km north.

(See especially, Coren’s Why Catholics Are Right (McClelland & Stewart), on the bestseller list for five weeks.)

That latter point clears up a long-standing suspicion on my part: I live in downtown Toronto, which I must cross to get to Mass on the day of the parade. Toronto has about 2.5 million people1. If it were true that one million of them left whatever they were doing and went to the Gay Pride parade, there would be a huge hole in just about everything – which there never is. So I simply couldn’t believe that the figures represented factual reality, no matter who was fronting them.

What the legacy media’s figures represent is“politically correct calculus,” which is critical for understanding news stories in these times: One pro-choicer is equivalent to three pro-lifers. One Gay Pride marcher is equal to five non-marchers. And anyone who takes the risk of questioning the calculus, as free speech advocate Michael Coren has, knows that they are henceforth targeted on suspicion of “hate crime”or “causing offense.”

The good news is that to get past the numerous misrepresentations, it is not necessary to disbelieve everything we read. In Canada, a backstop solution frequently in use is to build in corrections as one reads or listens: Assume that the pro life rally is three times as large as media report and that the Gay Pride parade is one-fifth as large. You may need to adjust these corrections to fit your local legacy media, of course. Once you have arrived at the right correction figure, you are close to sufficient accuracy.

(Note: Police numbers cannot always be relied on because the police sometimes come under PC pressure too. So never ignore common-sense observations, such as: What should we observe if these figures are correct?)

Hat tip: Five Feet of Fury.

(1 City officials like to inflate the number by accidentally including outlying bedroom communities (shucks, we haven’t invented mapmaking here yet), but the one given above is correct and plausible.)

AMEN, AMEN, AMEN. I have seen for twenty five years the media with a motive for/against a cause take advantage of the trust of the viewer and deceive/seem to me deceive the people on manifestations of support by their fellow citizens. The gay parades are indeed, in Toronto, made up because of the need to push support for the gay agenda. Yet its in everything here or abroad. It matters to the media how they present to the public of how much of the public supports this or that. A sales pitch indeed. They are not just observing but selling. IN origin issues they also always stress how many and who supports what conclusions. If it matters what people think they it shouldn't be difficult to figure out what people think. I understand half the pop questions evolution as true and 70% would allow both sides in school. Is this pressed in the press. Robert Byers
Mung at 4, interesting question. First glance, I'd say no. There is a moral component to the idea of lying. Animal deception is innocent, in the sense that where moral agency isn't imputed, moral blame can't be assigned. There is also an intelligence component, of course. Human deception is extra information: = I told you the information (and I knew it was false). O'Leary
Numbers don’t lie but people do.
Yes, but do dogs lie? Does intelligent design theory give a reliable heuristic to distinguish between lies and not lies? Mung
It has a lot to do with ID, actually - as Gil suggests - because most people know what they think they know from legacy media. the sad reality is that increasingly, no one who wishes to be well-informed about the world around us can rely on them. They make no serious pretense to be anything other than they are, either. O'Leary
UD readers might wonder what this has to do with ID. It has everything to do with it. The mainstream media are infested with ideologues who came out of the universities, which are infested with professors, especially in such fields as "communications," who have an ideological agenda. They view it as their mission to indoctrinate students with their worldview. Facts and evidence are of no concern to these people, for whom the ends justify the means. This is frightening. My wife's cousin, who is extremely intelligent but an atheist/new-ager/vegan, when he learned that I was involved in the ID movement, told me that I had been duped. When I asked him what he knew about ID he spouted the Barbara Forrest litany, which he got from the mainstream media. This is a serious problem. When most people are confronted all day long with the illogic of Darwinism every time they turn on their TVs or read a mainstream newspaper, and are told that this is consensus science, they are unlikely to look further and educate themselves. GilDodgen
I was at the March for Life in D.C. two of the last three years (hundreds of thousands in attendance each time) and I made it a point afterwards to try and read the coverage of it, and it appeared that the policy of the national media here in the USA was that it didn't happen. Andrew BRAK

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