Saturday, July 03, 2010

Take that statistic with a grain of salt

I've been going through some back issues of magazines this evening, since the recycling truck will be by next week and I need to get them out of the living room. Of course, I want to grab the recipes and coupons out of the magazines before I pitch them.

In the process, I skimmed a few articles I'd missed the first time through. And I noticed just how much magazines love statistics. "Recent studies show," or phrases like it, regularly appear in sidebars.

It takes a little discernment to deal with those statistics. If 31% of women prefer perfume as a birthday present, that means that 69% don't. But it's the 31% that gets the column inches, because that number proves some point.

Magazines seem to be about as reliable as Wikipedia when it comes to real information. Sure, they're entertaining; they sometimes have good tips, great recipes and, of course, coupons. But do a little fact-checking on your own before you believe a lot of what you read.

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