Which facts and figures can you believe? Russell and Mike dissect some “facts” which are not as they seem at first sight. As a show all about facts it’s important that we and our listeners understand the pitfalls in the facts that are out in the wild.
Thinking for ourselves, considering others peoples agendas and the way in which the same fact can be portrayed in different ways are all part of the story.
Claim: 82% of birds on earth are chickens. (Brian Cox (the actor), This Morning, 24 February 2020)
Reality: Around 4-12% of birds are chickens and other poultry, but, by mass, they account for around 70%.
Claim: 21 million people in China have died of coronavirus. (Twitter feed)
Reality: This claim is based on the fall in the number of Chinese mobile phone subscriptions and shouldn’t be trusted.
Claim: The minimum wage should be £18 an hour, because in 1999 one hour’s pay at minimum wage could buy you 72 Freddos, but in 2017 it could only buy you 30 Freddos.
Reality: Actually, you could have got 36 Freddos in 1999. More broadly, Freddos are not a good measure of inflation. The price of Freddos rose about five times faster than inflation from 1999 to 2017, but the minimum wage also rose above inflation in that period.
Take away actions
- Check your facts before using them – perhaps use a service such as fullfact.org to check
- Don’t try and ram overlapping facts together to get a new fact – the devil is in the detail, percentages do not add together!
- Don’t believe everything you read – scepticism is your friend, look at both sides without prejudging the argument
02:25 – The problem with statistics
14:30 – Solutions to fact or fake news
15:15 – Striking a balance between paranoia and blind acceptance
16:25 – Actions to help ensure accurate facts
Send us your fact or fake news, both good and bad! We’re @greenelepod on social
Special thanks as always to Harriet Teagle for her Green Elephant artwork.