Damned Lies and Statistics

YOU'VE HEARD THE NUMBERS -- 10% OF AMERICAN MEN ARE GAY, 2.7 million children are abused, one in eight women develop breast cancer. Politicians, activists, fund raisers, scientists and, yes, magazine journalists routinely unload such staggering statistics on a trusting public. The numbers are presented as though they carry all the weight of scientific truth. Don't believe it.

The fact is, much of today's political and social agenda is built around flagrantly flimsy figures. Statistics on crime, poverty, homelessness, joblessness, drug abuse, toxic hazards, sexual harassment -- indeed, any matter concerning sex -- are notoriously suspect.

Sometimes erroneous numbers are used...

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