Friday, December 16, 2016

A lesson in how to lie with statistics

Kevin Drum, blogging via Mother Jones, calls this out, more politely than I would.

Eduardo Porter, writing in the business section of the NYTimes, offers this scary picture of how white people have gotten screwed in the job market since 2007. No wonder these poor victims voted for the orange scam artist!
Pretty scary right? Those people are stealing all the goodies, our goodies!

Except that Porter's chart is bullshit. Drum shows why in two simple visual reworkings of Porter's data. His first one restates Porter's assertion:

And his second rendering of the data shows why this picture is misleading:

Whites have the same number of jobs as in 2007 because there are the same number of whites as in 2007. Hispanics and blacks have more jobs because there are more Hispanics and blacks.

Now it is likely that the quality and pay-scale of many jobs have deteriorated since 2007, perhaps especially for whites. But this does not show employment disadvantage among whites. White anxiety is about seeing the relative number of our tribe dwindle. And we can just get used to it and notice we have new friends and neighbors who have many of the same problems we do...

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