Social Statistics: The lies and deceit | INFJ Forum

Social Statistics: The lies and deceit


C'est la vie
Retired Staff
May 11, 2008
One of my biggest pet peeves are individuals who misuse statistics. Take this example...

The other day I had a 17 year-old Evangelical Christian tell me that 33% of child molesters are homosexuals.

Of course, what he didn't realize is that he had fallen for one of the classical statistical fallacies, arbitrary redefinition.

In all these "studies" a homosexual was defined as a child molester who had molested somebody of the same sex. Whether or not these individuals were attracted to adults of the same sex was completely irrelevant. By their definition, homosexuals are people who have sex with people of the same sex, regardless of age or consent.

The problem with this logic is that child molesters are opportunistic. In fact, 91% of child molesters are men who identify themselves as heterosexual. That means, these individuals who are sexually attracted to adults of the opposite sex, are often molesting children of the same sex.

Therefore, to argue that one's adult sexual orientation has anything to do with whether or not they are more likely to molest children is ludicrous. Can you imagine the site that this 33% statistic came from? A Christian website! I swear these people need to read Proverbs 6, where it says that lying is an abomination before God.

But people take these statistics to heart, and even determine how they vote by them. One of the biggest mistakes I have ever made was taking statistics, because I am completely aware of how ignorant most people are of them.
yes! In complete agreement... although usually the ones that jump out at me are the studies done on evangelical christians, because they have similar fallacies.

As a general rule of thumb, I never accept statistics as evidence. I know it's stupid, but I don't know them well enough to discern and even on theory they're shaky and hard to trust (relies on the understanding of the questioner, not misunderstanding questions, honest answers from participants, that the participants know themselves well enough to answer with the truth, stuff like that).

Purposeful and accidental misuse are difficult to distinguish... but in either case I don't think they're to be trusted.