Saturday, July 9, 2011

Creating hysteria with fake statistics

The Village Voice goes after Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, their celebrity charity consultants, a host of credulous big-name media organizations and a bunch of faux charities enriching themselves with government grants for promulgating essentially meaningless statistics regarding child prostitution in the US.

This sort of statistical foolishness is hardly new nor is it limited to attacks on the sex industry; indeed, it accompanies most every media scare, from upcoming ice ages to dangerous vegetables to Satanism.

Ashton Kutcher - I'd never heard of him but then I mostly stopped watching TV other than sports and elections in the early 1980s - responds to the Village Voice piece like a spoiled child rather than like, to pick a phrase, a real man. Maybe he needs a twitter consultant / editor too.

A better reaction would be for Ashton and Demi to apologize to the public and then to give some money to the American Statistical Association to fund their educational efforts. With a large enough donation, perhaps the ASA would even set up a special program called "The Ashton and Demi Program in Basic Statistics for Celebrities and Journalists."

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