lies, damned lies, and statistics: the misapplication of statistics in everyday life

Statistics are occasionally misused to persuade, influence and sell. Is it ever morally acceptable to lie? I don’t pretend to be in the mind of Ted Cruz, but I assume that what prompted the letter to the FDA and his Twitter-lies was the July 2020 ruling of a federal judge, which orders the FDA to allow patients to receive medication abortion pills by mail during the COVID-19 emergency. The phrase has been used in a number of popular expositions, including: Phrase describing the use of numbers to bolster weak arguments. In R. Deferrari (Ed. Nous, 40, 284-306) has suggested that lying requires warranting the truth of what you do not believe. 53-120). Finally, we offer some suggestions for further research on this topic and about the moral implications of our investigation into the concept of lying.". New York, NY: Catholic University of America). Support for Roe v. Wade has been rising steadily, with 73% of Americans saying they support it in recent polls. Nor does it quote its own data, which, as discussed above, would indicate the risk of death is very close to zero. This has lately been adapted to throw dirt upon statistics. Lies, damned lies, and statistics : An empirical investigation of the concept of lying. ), Treatises on various subjects (pp. Politicians are entitled to take unpopular positions—and to use lawful means to change the laws they don’t like. The definition of lying. According to one traditional definition, lying requires intending to deceive (Augustine. 53-120). ), Treatises on various subjects (pp. The data suggest that everyday speakers of English count bald-faced lies and proviso lies as lies. abstract = "There are many philosophical questions surrounding the notion of lying. There are three degrees of comparison, it is said, in lying. New York, NY: Catholic University of America). To settle these disputes, we elicited judgments about the proposed counterexamples from ordinary language users unfettered by theoretical bias. Texas also breaks out abortion data by procedure. By continuing you agree to the use of cookies. More fundamental, however, is the question of what, exactly, constitutes the concept of lying. Many people who believe women should have a right to terminate a pregnancy identify as “pro-life.” They simply do not believe that their views are binding on others. All told, those reports show that abortion is an incredibly safe procedure. The definition of lying. While the overall rate is alarming, the uneven distribution of risk is even more alarming. It cannot be sold legally over the internet. Edited by Barbara Stark and Joanna L. Grossman, Edited by Linda C. McClain and Joanna L. Grossman, by Joanna L. Grossman and Lawrence M. Friedman, by Katherine T. Bartlett, Deborah L. Rhode, and Joanna L. Grossman. The complication rate is much lower than that found during childbirth and comparable to that found in the literature even when ED visits are included and there is no loss to follow-up. [15][1] The phrase has also been attributed to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.[16][17]. The Median Isn't the Message", 10.1001/virtualmentor.2013.15.1.mnar1-1301, "The West Wing: Season 1, Episode 21 : Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics", the support material of the academic web pages of the late Prof Lee, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lies,_damned_lies,_and_statistics&oldid=974196773, Wikipedia articles needing factual verification from November 2019, Articles lacking reliable references from November 2019, Articles needing additional references from November 2019, All articles needing additional references, Articles with unsourced statements from November 2019, All articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases, Articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases from November 2019, Articles with incomplete citations from November 2019, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Globally, the maternal death rate decreased 44 percent between 1990 and 2015. It quotes only one data point from CDC data, showing a .00073 percent rate of death from legal abortion (which also includes deaths after abortion where the abortion did not cause the death), without providing any context for how very low that rate is. The data suggest that everyday speakers of English count bald-faced lies and proviso lies as lies. was saying the other day that false statements might be arranged according to their degree under three heads, fibs, lies, and statistics." Finally, we offer some suggestions for further research on this topic and about the moral implications of our investigation into the concept of lying. Her most recent book is Nine to Five: How Gender, Sex, and Sexuality Continue to Define the American Workplace (Cambridge University Press 2016). It is also sometimes colloquially used to doubt statistics used to prove an opponent's point. But even if the deaths were attributable to mifepristone (which obviously was not the case given the findings of homicide and suicide, among others), 24 reported deaths in eighteen years, from a population of 3.7 million patients who used the drug, is a vanishingly small number. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and other organizations filed a lawsuit to prevent the FDA from enforcing its restrictions on the pills used for medication abortion. According to the state’s own data, this resulted in zero patient deaths. (1952). The risk of dying from childbirth is many times greater than the risk of dying from an abortion. Her most recent book is, COVID-19, Toxic Masculinity, and the Sad State of National Politics, Legal Analysis and Commentary from Justia, Nine to Five: How Gender, Sex, and Sexuality Continue to Define the American Workplace, Inside the Castle: Law and the Family in 20th Century America. Mifeprex is the brand-name for mifepristone, which blocks the hormone progesterone. to a letter written in the British newspaper National Observer on 8 June 1891, published 13 June 1891, where it was written: "Sir, —It has been wittily remarked that there are three kinds of falsehood: the first is a 'fib,' the second is a downright lie, and the third and most aggravated is statistics. Texas has a higher than average rate of maternal mortality. ), Treatises on various subjects (pp. Support is broad regardless of gender, religious affiliation, and race. Humans have a fondness for numbers, but unfortunately those numbers are sometimes misused or even abused. The opinions expressed in Verdict are those of the individual columnists and do not represent the opinions of Justia. To settle these disputes, we elicited judgments about the proposed counterexamples from ordinary language users unfettered by theoretical bias. It is also possible that the pill will not cause a complete miscarriage, requiring a follow-up procedure to terminate the pregnancy. [citation needed] "Figures often beguile me," he wrote, "particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: 'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'"[3]. That’s why 20 of my republican colleagues and I are urging @US_FDA to classify it as such. In 2017, 52,081 abortions were performed in the State of Texas. T2 - An empirical investigation of the concept of lying. Indeed, only 21 of 52,081 women (.04%) experienced a serious complication. Nope. Gainsford replied (connecting the "statistics" expression with the "expert witness" expression), as originating with a judge at Lincoln's Inn,[1][7][8] further suggesting common usage even at that date. According to one traditional definition, lying requires intending to deceive (Augustine. In 2018, 70 women died while pregnant or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy. The data from Texas, a state that has taken a variety of measures to curtail access to abortion and which scores poorly on virtually every measure of women’s health, tells a story about abortion safety that is completely at odds with Cruz’s tall tale. Ted Cruz could spend his next maskless flight perusing the data for the last ten years, and he would find no additional evidence of danger from mifepristone (or surgical abortion). N2 - There are many philosophical questions surrounding the notion of lying. determine how many weeks since the last menstrual period or since fertilization) and diagnose an ectopic pregnancy (a non-viable pregnancy where the embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus, most often in a fallopian tube rather than the uterus). (Detailed current information can be found here.) There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics. The reality is this: the GOP’s strong position against abortion is an unpopular one. title = "Lies, damned lies, and statistics: An empirical investigation of the concept of lying". To draw just one obvious comparison, the FDA received reports of 240 deaths after patients took Viagra in only the first 7.5 months of its availability, and 522 reported deaths after 13 months. [1] The phrase was attributed to an anonymous writer in mid-1891 and later that year to Sir Charles Dilke,[1] but several others have been listed as originators of the quote,[1] including frequent erroneous attribution to Twain himself. 53-120). And, as an educated consumer, I would be much less worried about ingesting mifepristone than Viagra. As I explored in detail in an earlier column, the rates and patterns of maternal mortality in the United States are truly shocking. Posted in: The majority were minor. The maternal mortality rate also varies considerably from state to state, with the highest rates in states like Louisiana, Georgia, and Indiana. Her columns focus on sex discrimination and family law. Robert Giffen (1837–1910), Walter Bagehot's assistant editor at The Economist and President of the Statistical Society from 1882 to 1884, was a further early writer to have connected the expression regarding statistics to the expression regarding experts. . The letter Cruz and his colleagues submitted to the FDA makes much of adverse event reports submitted to the FDA, but, not surprisingly, they take the information completely out of context. This is clearly the case with mifepristone. It is also sometimes colloquially used to doubt statistics used to prove an opponent's point. And within ten years, the number of reported deaths increased to 2,200. More recently, Thomas Carson (2006. Together they form a unique fingerprint. The ways in which pregnancy and childbirth can adversely affect a woman’s health are virtually unlimited, but researchers have found a general upward trend in severe maternal morbidity from 1998 to 2010. Lies, damned lies, and statistics "Lies, damned lies, and statistics" is a popular phrase that is often used to disparage statistics that do not properly support a particular position. In the letter to the FDA, Cruz and his colleagues accuse ACOG and other advocates for women’s health of using COVID-19 “as a ruse” to bypass the FDA’s restrictions on mifepristone. In a tweet posted on September 2, 2020, Cruz wrote the following: Pregnancy is not a life-threatening illness, and the abortion pill does not cure or prevent any disease. Maybe Cruz has carefully examined abortion data in his own state and knows something we don’t? Hardly. (Just read the comments to Cruz’s tweet to get a sampling of the scary and sometimes life-threatening experiences of women who have been pregnant and given birth.). This certainly does not mean that Viagra killed all of these men; but if one were going to ring alarm bells based on fatal adverse event reports to the FDA, one would be better off studying Viagra before mifepristone. Importantly, theorists working on this topic fundamentally disagree about whether these problem cases are genuine instances of lying and, thus, serve as counterexamples to the definitions on offer. [1] The phrase is not found in any of Disraeli's works and the earliest known appearances were years after his death. There were also zero deaths of abortion patients in 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009. New York, NY: Catholic University of America). She is the coauthor of Inside the Castle: Law and the Family in 20th Century America (Princeton University Press 2011), co-winner of the 2011 David J. Langum, Sr. Prize for Best Book in American Legal History, and coeditor of several other books.

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