TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Our Telephonic Primacy

Re: Our Telephonic Primacy
23 Mar 2005 07:37:52 -0800

Monty Solomon wrote:

> By William F. S. Miles | March 21, 2005

> Americans often make this jingoistic boast in bouts of competitive
> patriotism. But on what basis? When it comes to the standard
> international ranking of countries in terms of human development (life
> expectancy, literacy, and purchasing power, as compiled by the United
> Nations Development Program), the United States comes in a
> respectable, but hardly chest thumping, number 7 (bested by Belgium,
> for goodness sake!)

I wonder how accurate these international rankings are. Recently
someone claimed that infant mortality was worse in the U.S. than in
Cuba, something I find difficult to believe without additional

Anyway, in the case of the United States, the national averages,
rankings, and indexes really don't mean very much. The U.S. is a very
big country with great economic diversity. Real estate costs more in
NYC, but salaries are higher, for example. Crime and disease are
often much higher in ghetto areas than most suburban areas.

Advocates of public policy on both sides of the aisle love to throw
out statistics. Newspapers like them as well -- they "authenticate" a
story. But the key component of all statistics is the base sample.
When we say 25% percent of such-and-such, we need to understand
exactly what 'such and such' _includes_ AND _excludes_, as well as
exactly the definition of the subset percentage. Further, it is
critical that statistics be compared in context to other yardsticks of
other equivalent areas and situations of past time. Often the full
story is not told.

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