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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Beeb Strikes (Out) Again

Ignore the image at the right for a moment.

I got to this by going from Instapundit to the BBC (The Beeb) to the Pew Trust. The BBC Article was "Online politics reserved for rich."

The minor headline is "US civic engagement remains in the hands of the middle-class despite hopes that the internet would democratise political involvement."

Reading the article one comes away with the impression that the BBC thinks that the rich people (those making at least $100,000 per annum) are running politics in the US and that the rest of us are down at the poverty line, making less than $20,000.  Perhaps it is because being the UK the idea of a true Middle Class is missing.  Something is missing.

Here is the key paragraph:
According to the report 35% of US adults on incomes of at least $100,000 (£62,000) participate in two or more online political activities compared to just 8% of adults on incomes of less than $20,000 (£12,000).
Now, check out the chart.  What do we see?  We see a steadily increasing involvement in politics and in politics on line as income increased.  Frankly, this should not be surprising.  When I was making $222.30 a month, plus room and board, I spent less time on politics and news magazines and newspapers—the sort of internet of the day.  I wrote one Senator in about ten years.  He never returned my letter and I then didn't vote for him for President.

Later, when I have more disposable income and more disposable time I spent more time thinking about politics and doing something about it, within the limits of my employment.

I think the reporter was either (1) lazy, (2) totally non-analytic or (3) looking for facts to back up his or her prejudices.

I would call this one a hit for that reporter.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  Here is the Pew Trust Report in PDF Format.


Craig H said...

The graphs just as surely "prove" that income rises as people's political activity increases. (Want to get rich? Write a letter to an editor).

Innumeracy is frighteningly pervasive these days, at at least we know our public schools are not leaving us significantly behind at least one other country where its concerned.

The New Englander said...


You've got to explain this innumeracy thing to me -- a 50% chance of rain Saturday and a 50% chance of rain Sunday means it will certainly rain this weekend, right? And expansion teams can't dilute the talent pool, because look how well the Colorado Rockies did early in their existence..

Seriously, though, nice call out of the graphs and another good example of something that could be used in a Logical / Crit. Thinking class.

Unrelated point -- are either of you guys interested in forming up a trivial pursuit team for Oct. 3? Just saw something about it on


C R Krieger said...

A 50% chance of rain in Middlesex County means that there will be rain over 50% of the area of Middlesex County.  Now that is strange, isn't it.

I think that Kad is right about the problem of innumeracy.  But, perhaps it is most concentrated in the Main Stream Media.  Being a reader of The Boston Globe I find it there whenever they start talking about numerical information.  My favorite was the reporter who had two statistics (from two different sources) on traffic through the Concord Rotary.  One was total traffic per day and one was peak hourly traffic.  Problem was, the total traffic reported, divided by 24, gave you the peak hour traffic reported.  I called the reporter, who was a very nice person.  She told me about it being two sources and admitted she missed it.

Regards  —  Cliff