how numbers are misused to create laws: an illustration

A New York State Senator proposes a bill to close a loophole that lets sex offenders live close to preschools.

The data used to make the case, and the data cited in the Facebook post are clearly manipulated to elicit fear. There’s no questioning that whatsoever. Numbers are carefully managed, contorted, and presented sans caveat in order to give every parent in Westchester and Rockland the idea that, at any moment, their children are in imminent danger from a pedophile lurking in the shadows. Carlucci and his colleagues then offer the solution, in the form of legislation, and a panicked populace votes for them on that basis. The cycle is complete, and in the end there’s another new piece of legislation on the books that addresses a minor situation in a spectacular way that garners headlines galore. 

One way to counter this is with increased numeracy: literacy of numbers. When percentages are used instead of actual numbers, it’s important to understand why. It’s even more important to get educated and find the numbers for ourselves and understand that manipulation of numbers can lead us to make bad conclusions about all kinds of things 

As with everything else education is key.

That summarizes the article nicely but do read the whole thing.

Numbers, like words, have real meaning, and this article helps to explain how the numbers are misused in the service of emotion, not reason.

As with most things government-related that are done “for the children,” Carlucci takes great pride in having “done something.” Doing something is not the same as “doing the right thing,” however, and should not be confused with its much more even-tempered cousin. No, “doing something” is all about being busy showing people how much you’ve done so that if that thing produces no results, you can brag about how hard you worked on it anyway. 

Doing the wrong thing because it feels good is still doing the wrong thing.

~ marie
Notes from the Handbasket

2 thoughts on “how numbers are misused to create laws: an illustration

  1. We are not helpless but we are helpless if we do not take action. Taking action requires working together. We have strength in numbers. We have an agenda. – set up legal defense funds so ambitious district attorneys cannot advance their careers on the backs of non-harmful sex offenders. – create neighborhood self-defense squads to counteract vigilantism. – boycott companies and countries that support witch hunts. – create a nationwide communication network, so that all sex offenders can be notified and act in unison on projects in their interests. – set up our own job boards so counteract discrimination against SO's

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  2. I am so sick and tired of half truths. I went to this article and read the entire article, the information he posted in his article shows people on the registry in a better light, but even his information is out of date and misleading I wanted to put a post on his article to send him to the front page of SOSEN.Org to do a little research especially look at some of the past articles pertaining to re-offense rates guessed what you have to have a twitter account or a Facebook account to reply to this joker.

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