Brown: Context is key when looking at statistics

Posted 7/24/20

This response is in regards to “Letter writers should check their ‘facts’”, in the July 15 edition of the Sun City West Independent. It is Paul Johnson who needs to learn how to interpret statistical facts. He may have his numbers correct but his interpretation is erroneous.

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Brown: Context is key when looking at statistics

Posted

This response is in regards to “Letter writers should check their ‘facts’”, in the July 15 edition of the Sun City West Independent. It is Paul Johnson who needs to learn how to interpret statistical facts. He may have his numbers correct but his interpretation is erroneous.

I cannot tell you how many times I have had these numbers quoted to me by people who think they are proving a point. Instead, they are revealing a biased attitude looking to justify a preconception. What Paul Johnson has conveniently, or maybe unwittingly left out, is the context. The context is this: If there were 643 fewer Blacks shot by police than whites In a year, you would say what percentage of the black population versus what percentage of the white population were shot by police in that year. Since there are 76.3% whites in the U.S. population and 13.4% blacks in the U.S. population, the number of blacks per capita shot by police is more than twice the number of whites shot by police. That’s how you interpret these kinds of statistics. Per capita. It’s not just one number versus another number, unless you’re only interested in passing off a grain of truth for the whole truth.

The second opinion in this same edition from George Simousek, including his mocking and belittling of women protesters, taxpayers, retirees, and people who absolutely do represent a portion of needs to be addressed. Maricopa County didn’t go purple for no reason, George. Peaceful protest and free speech, not hate speech, are the bedrock of this country. Last I knew, that’s why my 82nd Airborne husband served and maybe you did too, George. Finally, I have to ask, why are the only two opinions in this issue clearly on one side of the political spectrum? Since when have disparaging remarks smearing members of this community become acceptable journalistic material? This is a community news publication, not the Enquirer. Are you going to allow opinions to become threatening, degrading, and full of name calling like George’s? I certainly hope not.

Christie Brown

Sun City West

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