About a month ago I had a rant here about statistics being abused in reports of a study that the Road Safety Authority co-authored.
Well to make matters worse the report spawned a print and radio advertising campaign. But, in a welcome development, someone else had a go at the poster ads in the letters page of today’s Metro (Dublin-area daily free newspaper). Oh yes, this blog has its finger on the pulse alright!
What’s more the writer was female (so it isn’t just my “prickly pear” man-self getting defensive) and drew attention to an extra offence in the print campaign. The poster states “more often than not, if he drives – she dies”, which is outrageously over-the-top.
It takes the study’s finding, which is “if a female passenger dies on the road, more often than not her driver was male” which can’t be too shocking given there are only too choices for which sex it could be and twists it into “More than half of the time women get into a car driven by a man, they’re killed”. That’s clearly bonkers and blatantly untrue but the slogan carries that meaning and if it isn’t thought about consciously, ratchets up the perception of male risk on the roads about three postal codes past where the facts support.
I wonder could I take a class-action lawsuit for statistical defamation?