Tag Archives: arrogance

62% of statistics are made up on the spot

The title of this entry may be a bit facetious, but there is an element of truth to it.  The written word is often taken as absolute gospel.  That’s because most people, understandably, can’t be bothered to verify the facts themselves.  It’s for this reason that I cite my references and sources whenever I quote anything, be it a statistic or a comment.  And when it comes to statistics, I try to use neutral sources, like Statistics Canada, wherever possible.  This way I get the true numbers before the spin has been added.

I was just re-reading Elizabeth Mandelman’s “An Interview with Wendy Cukier” and I found myself dumbfounded by the first sentence:

“In Canada, 85% of female homicide victims are murdered by their partners and in Ontario, possession or access to firearms is the fifth leading risk factor for femicide.”

Something about that number, 85%, just didn’t ring true to me, so I did some digging.  Lo and behold, it’s a complete fabrication.  The numbers for 2007, according to this document, state:

Total Homicides                                                  594

Female Victims                                                    162

Females killed by spouse                                       51

(legal and common law, past and current)

Killed by boyfriend/girlfriend/intimate                     16

(past and current)

The last number isn’t broken down into male and female victims, so for my purposes, I’m going to assume a worst-case scenario and say that all of the victims were female.  That gives us a grand total of 67 women who were killed by their current or previous spouse or partner (51+16=67).  So with 162 women killed in total for the year 2007 that works out to 41% of female homicide victims being murdered by their partners.  Not 85% as was so sensationally claimed in Ms Mandelman’s blog.

Is that still a horrendous figure? Absolutely.  But at least it’s the real figure and not a fabricated number designed to illicit an emotional response from the reader. 

According to the RCMP, there are about 2 million licensed firearms owners in Canada.  Most estimates place the actual number of firearms owners at around 5 million people.  That accounts for roughly 15% of the population of Canada. 

Call me crazy here, but if you’re heading a campaign to bring in new laws that will have an immediate and direct impact on 15% of the population, is it not too much to ask that you tell the truth?

Lifecycle of Civilizations

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.” 

That line was written by the Scottish lawyer/writer Alexander Fraser Tytler in the late 1700s.  It’s not known for sure if Mr Tytler coined these words:

 “A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”

But Mr Tytler is most definitely responsible for this sequence, known as the Tytler Cycle:

“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequences:

1. from bondage to spiritual faith;

2. from spiritual faith to great courage;

3. from courage to liberty;

4. from liberty to abundance;

5. from abundance to complacency;

6. from complacency to apathy;

7. from apathy to dependence;

8. from dependence back into bondage.”

I’ve always been fascinated by history, and the first time I heard about this cycle was the classic “lightbulb” moment.  It applies to every great empire and civilization: China, Persia, Greece, Rome, Britain, and now the American empire.  Some of you may balk at my referring to the American “empire”, but that’s another discussion entirely in itself.  The thing that gets me about this cycle, is just how deeply apathetic we, in the west, have become.

Actually, it’s not even the apathy that really bothers me.  It’s the ignorance.  The people who think and act like all the troubles in the world right now are happening for the very first time.  Sure the characters might be different this time around, but it’s still the same story. But even worse than that is the arrogance.  The people, and particularly some of our leaders, who know that it’s all happened before, yet continue to make the same mistakes and think that this time they can “beat the system”.  What’s that definition of insanity again? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

There’s no stopping this bus from going over the cliff, but it sure would be nice to know that at least one or two other passengers noticed that the cliff was coming.