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Thread: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

  1. #1
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    Default Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

    It's not really about statistics, though: this is about the Visual Display of Quantitative Information (one of the ways you "lie" with statistics.

    From https://geopoliticaleconomy.com/2023...uis-fed-graph/

    This is a chart from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, nominally showing military spending over time for China, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. The blue line is the United States, the red line is China. On the face of it, it looks like China is close to being on a par with the United States, doesn't it?

    Look again.

    There are two vertical axes show spending in billions of constant (2020) US dollars. The one on the left runs from $0b to $300b. The one on the right, from $400b to $1,000b.

    All the countries save the USA are graphed according to the left scale; the USA alone is on the right. So right now, the USA is spending, per the chart, c. $950b and China c. $180b something approaching 4x more than China.




    If you scaled it properly, it would look something like this:





    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tD4P-vWWGLc

    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

    [QUOTE=Nicholas Carey; So right now, the USA is spending, per the chart, c. $950b and China c. $180b — something approaching 4x more than China.

    As it should be

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

    Three thousand million dollars a day.
    It’s obscene.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

    …………..and I wonder if it's being spent wisely and strategically……… or politically……….

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

    It’s defense! Of course with all that extra defense it’s easy to get offensive.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

    Just addressing the 'graphics in aid of dishonesty' question... I doubt it. Sure, I can't be 100% sure, but people who read Fed reports won't be misled by that double vertial axis graph. I, myself, have used a similar dodge... strictly in aid of saving space in a report/paper. The audience for those was not confused in the slightest.

    Of course, people who intend to mislead have a lot of tricks they can use... most of them far more subtle than this. If you want to know more about those tricks, to armor yourself...

    https://www.amazon.com/How-Lie-Stati.../dp/0393310728
    Last edited by David G; 02-03-2023 at 01:30 AM.
    David G
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    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  7. #7
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    Default

    [QUOTE=JayInOz;6797237][QUOTE=Nicholas Carey; So right now, the USA is spending, per the chart, c. $950b and China c. $180b — something approaching 4x more than China.

    As it should be[/QUOTE]


    That tax is a little hard on the US economy, though. Lots of better, more effective uses, like education, that would actually show a positive return on investment

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    Just addressing the 'graphics in aid of dishonesty' question... I doubt it. Sure, I can be sure, but people who read Fed reports won't be misled by that double vertial axis graph. I, myself, have used a similar dodge... strictly in aid of saving space in a report/paper. The audience for those was not confused in the slightest.
    More like whoever had to put the PowerPoint deck together had to fit it on a single [landscape] slide.

    Of course, people who intend to mislead have a lot of tricks they can use... most of them far more subtle than this. If you want to know more about those tricks, to armor yourself...

    https://www.amazon.com/How-Lie-Stati.../dp/0393310728
    I almost linked to that, along with Tufte's The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.

    https://www.amazon.com/Visual-Displa.../dp/1930824130

    https://www.edwardtufte.com/

    Tufte, though, is all about conveying information effectively and accurately rather than obscuring it, even though the two are not unrelated.
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

    Anyone with an interest in data visualisation should take the occasional look at Mona Chalabi.....

    https://www.instagram.com/monachalabi/?hl=en
    I'd much rather lay in my bunk all freakin day lookin at Youtube videos .

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    I, myself, have used a similar dodge... strictly in aid of saving space in a report/paper. The audience for those was not confused in the slightest.
    ...and then imagine showing this graph to the former president? A man who could redirect hurricanes with a Sharpie.

    Andy
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    Just addressing the 'graphics in aid of dishonesty' question... I doubt it. Sure, I can't be 100% sure, but people who read Fed reports won't be misled by that double vertial axis graph. I, myself, have used a similar dodge... strictly in aid of saving space in a report/paper. The audience for those was not confused in the slightest.

    Of course, people who intend to mislead have a lot of tricks they can use... most of them far more subtle than this. If you want to know more about those tricks, to armor yourself...

    https://www.amazon.com/How-Lie-Stati.../dp/0393310728
    With the lack of education in this country? With the soundbite mentality of people taking a quick glance at things? There is no doubt in my mind that the chart was designed purposely to fool people.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

    What it does show is that their defense spending has increased 10 fold from 25 billion to over 250 billion (and it has been a steady growth for the past 20 years) while the US has reduced its spending by about 10%. If China's growth continues in the same linear manner they would be spending about as much at the US in about 15 years assuming the US stays relatively stagnant in its defense spending.

    Most experts seem to feel that China will attempt to invade (unify) Taiwan withing the next 5 years. That would undoubtedly be a game changer with potential for a multination war. I can't help but wonder if there are any parallels between this and US thinking about possible war with Japan in the late 1930's

    A recent US wargame estimated that if the US backed Taiwan in an invasion, that the invasion would be thwarted but with heavy losses on both sides. The USA was predicted to lose two carriers and one third of its entire naval fleet.

    Not a pretty picture. Would an arms race impact China the same as it did Russia during the cold war, of would it just prompt them in increase their military spending even more?

    All of this is going on while a Chinese spy balloon is floating across the US and China makes regular incursions into Taiwanese airspace while buzzing US ships and planes.

    I'm usually more optimistic on a Friday

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    With the lack of education in this country? With the soundbite mentality of people taking a quick glance at things? There is no doubt in my mind that the chart was designed purposely to fool people.
    Published by the Federal Reserve... for the 'wonky' audience that actually reads such reports? Highly doubtful.
    David G
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    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

    Quote Originally Posted by P.I. Stazzer-Newt View Post
    Anyone with an interest in data visualisation should take the occasional look at Mona Chalabi.....

    https://www.instagram.com/monachalabi/?hl=en
    She does nice work, thanks for the tip!
    Steve

    If you would have a good boat, be a good guy when you build her - honest, careful, patient, strong.
    H.A. Calahan

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

    I wonder how the stats would look if it were adjusted to represent the multiples of the average income in each of those countries that the charts represent.Maybe North Korea would take the top slot.I don't really have the interest to seek the numbers,but it does indicate how a distorting effect can be applied.

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