Sources of Information

The bottom line is to always get the source of the information so that you can go back to it and see what it really says. Sometimes it is a big surprise. Following are more examples about getting sources.

"In his book Damned Lies and Statistics, sociologist Joel Best recalls the worst figure he ever came across on the printed page: that the number of American children gunned down has doubled each year since 1950.

"That may not seem so dubious at first glance, but Best knew better. He realized that if even just one child was gunned down in 1950 and you doubled that figure every year, the final death tally for 1995 would come in at exactly 34,359,738,638 American children. Of course thatís more kids than America, the world, and human history have ever produced, much less shot. Iím also pretty sure that if 34.3 trillion American children had been gunned down in 1995, we would have heard something about it from the news media, or at least from Rosie OíDonnell.

"Best got the statistic from a student's dissertation proposal. The student got it from a leading sociological journal. The journal got it from the Children's Defense Fund, who actually claimed that the number of American children gunned down each year has doubled since 1950. In other words, it only doubled once (unlike our population, which has more than doubled since 1950). Same words. Slightly different order" (, 8-24-04).

Census Working Overtime The press loves to bury us in public opinion polls, but something about these pie charts tastes funny to me. By Daniel Price.

Colby Glass, MLIS