A while back I wrote about statistics and how they can be used to influence people, even when the figures are used in such a manner as to create the wrong impression. Now, I am not saying that this example will necessarily create a certain impression amongst readers, but it is set up in such a manner that it does show us a picture which we cannot immediately understand. It uses two forms of statistics – big numbers and small numbers – to bring a point across, and relies on readers not doing any mental arithmetic for themselves. From Naomi Wolf’s latest offering: Vagina: A New Biography:
‘1.3 million American women annually may be victims of rape or attempted rape.’ (One in seventy-one men has been raped….)
This is taken from The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey by Roni Caryn Rabin which studied 16,507 adults.
The use the specific numbers of women who may be victims of rape or attempted rape is purposefully published as a large number; it has more effect. The number of men raped – not ‘may be victims’ – is a small associative number.
According to the United States Census 2010 there are 157 million women and 152 million men in the United States. Taking 1.3 million women we have a small number relationship of one in one hundred and twenty women, not quite double the small figure for men. Taking the one in seventy-one men we have a large number relationship of 2.1 million men.
If these figures are correct, more men are raped in the United States than women although, looking at the way the figures have been presented in my quotation, anyone would, at first glance, get the impression that the number of women is exceptionally high, the number of men low.
Whether these figures are correct, whether the report refers to men over a longer period of time, I cannot say. And I am certainly not saying that this belittles the number of women who are raped – rape is wrong no matter what – but it is interesting to see how the presented figures – quoted – influence our impressions when changed to match one another, as I have done above.
Love & Kisses, Viki.