It’s Really Not A Lot

vocal minority

My Dad always used to say to me, “Figures lie, and liars figure.” I never really understood at the time what it meant. As I got older, it became quite clear. People will use numbers in the way that most benefits them. I have often cited cigarette smoking statistics as a perfect example. Now, I am in no way endorsing smoking, as I have quit myself. I am also fully aware that cigarettes can kill you. My issue has always been with how likely it is to kill you.

Assuming 25 years is considered a generation, take this example. In 1962, there were approximately 70 million smokers in the United States. In ’87, it was 80 million, and today, it is down to 60 million. Presuming that half of the smokers in ’87, smoked in ’62, and presuming the same for todays smokers, that means there have been about 140 million smokers in the U.S. in the last 50 years. This number is likely higher, but a higher number would only make my point more valid. I wanted it to be hard on me.

So here it is: About a half million people die every year from cigarette related deaths. Over 50 years, that’s 25 million people. Some of the 25 million aren’t even smokers, because second hand smoke is bad, too. Even if 24.5 million of the deaths are actual smokers, that equates to about 16%. This means that 84% of smokers will never die from cigarette related death. Yet, the people against smoking will merely cite the fact that 500,000 people a year die from cigarettes, because they know that’s a big number and it gets attention. It’s a manipulation of the numbers. I still think it is bad for you, I just don’t agree that it’s as bad as they want you to believe it is. Hell, 300,000 people per year die of issues related to obesity. You can die from eating too much food. It’s all about moderation………..and genetics.

Now, that’s not what I really wanted to talk about, but I just wanted to give an example of getting figures to say what you want them to say. I really wanted this blog to be about how large numbers can make people believe things that are not true. Case in point, the One Million Moms boycott of J.C. Penney choosing to use Ellen DeGeneres as their new spokeswoman. They actually believe that having one million members gives them some real influence. NEWSFLASH: There are 360 million other people in this country. You make up less than .3% of the population, you dumbasses. Unfortunately, in this instance, they are blinded by the fact that they think one million people is a big deal, because it’s a big number.

This way of thinking is also what is driving the gay marriage controversy. I would concede that there are more than one million people in this country against it, which is what is causing the delay in legalization. However, there are FAR more people in this country that are in favor of gay marriage, and all other gay rights, for that matter. Yet, whenever a large group of people think one way, they also think that makes them the majority. It’s ludicrous. Having a large group of morons that think like you, does NOT mean that the rest of us do. I guess in this instance, figures confuse, and the confused figure.

These examples only highlight the naivete of people. I “believe” that taxing the rich more, is a good idea. However, I “know” that the amount of money it would generate is hardly big enough in comparison to the actual debt. Therefore, it’s hardly the solution. See, isn’t that easy to figure out? I think so.

Now, grab a butt, head to J.C. Penney, support gay marriage, and enjoy your life. 😉

Published by jwc

Just my thoughts on whatever has my attention.

3 thoughts on “It’s Really Not A Lot

  1. Great stuff Jeff. My personal favorite is the Occupy movement’s slogan that they are the 99%…at a couple hundred people per major city, they seem to be missing a decimal point and some zeros before the 9s. You can add to that the harping on executive salaries which, while in some cases obscene, have virtually no impact on the price consumers pay for goods.

  2. I just ran across this blog as I was perusing the Net and you have a very interesting style. Although not taking issue with your ultimate premise(s), let me just point out a few logic flaws that might serve to focus your writing style. You cite one or two statistics throughout the piece and the rest are assumptions that are made up to support your opinions (putting to rest the theory that “you can’t make this shit up”). For example, the smoking example. How do you get the numbers? Did you make them up? Even conservative numbers can skew your theory. Also, I think you miss the point of 1m moms. 1 million moms that are willing to march or demonstrate is probably indicative of 10 -50 times that that care about the issue. Its called a subset and it is very powerful. Ask the morons at Occupy Wall Street. Lastly, and my favorite is how you extrapolate to gay marriage. How do you justify saying “far more people” are for it? You cite no statistic or source to justify that view. Nor do you actually make a coherent point; if far more people are for it, aren’t they the majority? Now, I am actually in favor of gay marriage but your writing style is either lazy or you refuse to connect the dots. Your points would be more powerful if you cited more objective studies and stopped making shit up.

    1. The numbers on smoking were from a federal website on causes of death in the US. I didn’t post a link because my blogs are not meant to be, and in no way pretend to be fact. I do try and be as accurate as possible, though. You speak of me as using assumption to make my point, yet you do exactly the same thing when you describe a subset. You use the 10-50 times more argument just as easily. I guess I’m not allowed to make educated assumptions. As for your comments about my saying that far more people are for gay marriage, maybe I didn’t make my point clear. I didn’t mean that more people in America were for it, than were opposed. I was trying to say that more than 1 million moms, were in favor of it. I apologize that I wasn’t clearer. Apparently, you were so busy dissecting a mundane blog that you were too jaded to realize it. Thanks for reading.

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