Sunday, February 19, 2006

Lies. Damned lies. And statistics

Benjamin Disraeli famously said that there are three types of lies. Lies. Damned Lies. And statistics. The Labour Government do a marvellous job of ensuring that Disraeli's observation continues to be a truism. Today though, the Sunday Telegraph also did its part to prove Disraeli correct yet again.

The paper lead on an ICM poll of British muslims and screamed out on the front page that "Four out of 10 British Muslims want sharia law introduced into parts of the country". In other words 6 out of 10 don't. But it got better, the next sentence said that the poll "also indicates that a fifth have sympathy with the "feelings and motives" of the suicide bombers who attacked London last July 7, killing 52 people".

A fifth? Would it not have been fairer to say that 80% of muslims didn't have sympathy with the "feeling and motives" of the suicide bombers? I'll give the Telegraph its due, it did go on in that sentence to state that "99 per cent thought the bombers were wrong to carry out the atrocity", but its the editorial spin on the stats that bugs the shit out of me. Yes, I know that politicians have been doing this with statistics for years, and they always will to make a political point I guess, but it doesn't mean I have to ignore it when it happens.

No comments: