Talk:Numbed by the numbers, when they just don't add up

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Revision as of 15:17, 15 June 2005 by Bill Peterson (talk | contribs) (Households vs. Total People)
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$23 billion, 30 million New Yorkers gives $800 per capita

--Paul Campbell, Beloit College

Really bad when misleading

Early in the AIDs crisis, there was a story in the San Diego Union about a study of married couples where one person was infected as a result of pre-screening auto accident transfusion. The particularly valuable aspect of this study was that the time of infection was established but neither person had any idea that they might have AIDS. The study, while small, showed a much stronger male to female transmission than vice versa. Over many years sexual activity, sharing bathrooms (including, in some instances, toohbrushes), almost no men became sero-positive and less than half the women converted.

That this infection assymetry was particularly good news re AID's becoming pandemic outside of high risk populations was totally lost on the reporter. Indeed the headline was something along the lines of: "Study shows women at ten times the risk of getting AIDS"


Eggplants in New Jersey

There is a myth going around, perpetuated by many websites, that two thirds of the world's eggplants are grown in New Jersey. This is patently false on its face. In fact, NJ is not even the state with the most eggplant production within the United States, and of course Americans are not big consumers of eggplants, compared to other cultures and cuisines. How did this start, and why do people to uncritically pass it on?

Grand Canyon Full of Ice Cream

I saw a similar story a number of years ago on television, in which it was claimed that Americans eat enough ice cream every year to fill the Grand Canyon. Early in my classes I like to state this claim and then have the students, without looking anything up, try to figure out whether the claim is true or false (it is certainly false!) It's a good exercise in thinking about large numbers. Students usually get it right (I have them work in groups). BillJefferys 16:32, 27 May 2005 (EDT)

Households vs. Total People