Friday, December 5, 2014

Using Statistics Dishonestly

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics" are words we often hear. Statistics can be  made to say pretty much what we want. 'Events of the Day Column in  the Peace Weekly gives us an example of how this is done.

The article looks into the crime rate of Korea. The statistics show a very high rate for crime and he looks into the number of murders reported. In news reports under the term murder was the  number 966 which included attempted murder, aiding and abetting of murder, murder conspiracy and others. The rate is given per 100,000 of the population and Korea's rate is 0.69 which is the lowest  except for Japan. The United States has 5 and Western Europe has 2 per one hundred thousand. The way you use the statistics can make Korea one of the safest countries in the world or one of the most dangerous.

The way the crimes are reported are all with the same qualifications: attempted, abetting, conspiracy etc.. The columnist doesn't want to discount the harm and hurt that even one murder causes, but he wants to make clear what the statistics mean. Sadly, he laments, there are other deaths that we tend to overlook.

The Sewol tragedy is considered a homicide and not an accident. Last year 3,233  where killed in auto-accidents and there were 14,427 suicides. The number of suicides are 40 times the number of the murdered. This comes to 40 a day.

The power that a country possesses is great. They have the  power over life and death. And yet the money that is set aside in preventing accidents and suicides is very little. Korea spends about two million and Japan spends about 300 million for suicide prevention, and Japan has less of a problem.

The writer deplores the fact that we can spend so much money for the safety of our citizens with a large military, police force, and justice department, demanding an enormous amount of money; and be so abstemious when it comes to protecting the lives of citizens from accidents and suicides.

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