Five rules for fact-checking shakey statistics in the news

| April 7, 2021 | Leave a Comment

Item Link: Access the Resource

Media Type: Article - Recent

Publication Info: Condé Nast

Date of Publication: March 19

Year of Publication: 2021

Publication City: New York, N.Y., London, UK

Publisher: Wired

Author(s): Tom Chivers


Does eating bacon really raise your cancer risk by 20 percent? Is £350 million a week truly a lot of cash? Following some simple rules can help you figure out what numbers really mean.

You can’t have a functioning democratic state without a literate population. That’s been recognized since at least the mid-Victorian era. The 1867 reform act expanded the franchise to many working-class men, not all of whom were literate, and the elite were concerned that it would make it harder to run the country: “I believe it will be absolutely necessary to compel our future masters to learn their letters,” said one politician. These worries partly drove the 1870 and 1880 education acts, making elementary education compulsory for all. Voters needed, in short, to be able to read the newspapers.

These days, though, you can’t have a functioning democratic state without a numerate population. We need to understand not just the written word, but numbers.

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