As the old saying goes, “There are three kinds of lies: lie, damned lies, and statistics.” It is of the statistics I wish to address today.
I’ve always said, and will continue to say, that if you can control the unit of measure, you can control everything. It’s a pretty simple concept – if you get to determine what constitutes funny, you can make yourself the funniest. Same goes for fastest, smartest, best looking, whatever you can think of – if you get to decide what makes something what it is, you have absolute power.
While most people wouldn’t reconstitute a measurement of time to make a slow person the fastest (though they could), the concept of manipulating reality through framing with numbers is as old as time. During the pandemic, this was used for wildly nefarious purposes.
Whenever you heard raw numbers of cases, hospitalizations, or deaths it was because those numbers were bad. When they weren’t so bad, you started hearing percentages. Why? Because certain ways of presenting information can make it seem better or worse than it really is.
For example, if the number of deaths went from 10,000 to 20,000 in a day, that’s a pretty big increase and would be reported as such. There’s no real way to sugarcoat that much of a spike, or downplay it, it simply is and can be seen for what it is.
If, however, things are getting better but you’re concerned you’ll lose a large percentage of your audience without the fear of death around every corner, and you have other numbers to present, how you present them can make all the difference in the world.
Going from 10,000 deaths per day to 20,000 deaths per day is a 100 percent increase in the number of deaths. So is going from 1 death per day to 2 deaths per day. If you want to scare the hell out of people in the hope that they continue watching your news program, you headline the story with, “There has been a stunning, 100 percent increase in the number of COVID deaths in just 24 hours.” You’re not lying, it’s an accurate statement. It’s just presented in an absolutely fraudulent way to manipulate the audience.
That’s what so much of what the left does has become.
Eric Feigl-Ding is allegedly a doctor, but he’s a left-wing media darling and activist more than anything else. As such, he loves the power and the ability of progressives to flex that power the pandemic has created for them. It’s a sickness, really. Sunday, Feigl-Ding tweeted, “Getting nervous—The #DeltaVariant is not only causing 58.7% surge in cases, but also 72% increase in #COVID19 deaths and 10% increase in (Hospital) hospitalizations—just in 1 week. UK (Flag of United Kingdom) has been 96-100% #DeltaVariant now for 2 weeks, cases (Upwards arrow) for a month. Masks?”
If that reads like a 12-year-old girl wrote it that’s because he littered it with emojis rather than writing like an adult. The mentality of the framing isn’t much better.
The statistics he cited to get the “72% increase” for COVID deaths in one week was for a total of 124 deaths over 7 days, or a little over 17 per day. That number of deaths compared to the population of the UK, 67 million, is a rounding error. But if you say, “Death spiked 72 percent in just one week!” you get a different reaction. Again, both technically honest, one wildly manipulative.
Statistics makes controlling people easy, you don’t even have to lie. How you frame an argument is just as important, if not more important, than the argument itself. Try to keep that in mind next time you’re watching “the news.”
Derek Hunter is the host of a free daily podcast (subscribe!), host of a daily radio show on WCBM in Maryland, and author of the book, Outrage, INC., which exposes how liberals use fear and hatred to manipulate the masses. Follow him on Twitter at @DerekAHunter