Statistics in the Media Discussion
We hear and see statistics in the news all the time. Examples include statistics about crime rates, children killed by handguns, pool drownings, people struck by lightning, and causes of car accidents. Should we take them at face value? Is it true just because it is in the news?
Another example from the world of advertising:
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 38 million Americans still smoke. Cigarette smoking was especially high among males between 25-64 years old.
Since 1964, a warning on the side of each pack of cigarettes has informed the public that smoking is bad for human health and may cause cancer or contribute to other diseases. Still, 480,000 Americans will die of smoking this year (CDC 2020).
This figure is shockingly high, exceeding the total number of wartime deaths suffered by 405,399 U.S. military in WW II (Green, 2017). For each smoker who dies, 30 more continue to live with a smoke-related disease. Yet, 15.5% of Americans 18 and younger pick up the habit.
The CDC estimates that cigarette and smokeless tobacco industries spent over $9 billion on advertising and promotional expenses in the US in 2018 (CDC 2018).
How do company/industry funded studies get us to do things most of us agree are bad for our health? This four minute video on the effects of cholesterol Links to an external site. is a great example of why we replicate studies and why “who funded the study” is so important
Center for Disease Control. (2020). Smoking and Tobacco Use Links to an external site.
Center for Disease Control. (2018). Smoking is Down, but Almost 38 Million Americans Still Smoke. Links to an external site.
Green, M. (2017). How Many Soldiers Died in Each War? (KQED) Links to an external site.
Roberts, S., McMurry, M., & Connor, W. (2022). Do Dietary Cholesterol from Eggs Raise Blood Cholesterol? Nutritionfacts.org.
Does Dietary Cholesterol from Eggs Raise Blood Cholesterol? (YouTube 4:38)
Locate an article or advertisement that provides statistics in support of its message. Attach the article or advertisement link to your initial post.
What is the article or ad trying to say?
What statistical data are misrepresented or exaggerated?
What are the undesirable consequences to the consumer of this information?
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