Houston Matters

Understanding How Statistics Are Interpreted – And Sometimes Manipulated

There’s been a lot of rhetoric in recent years in political ranks about violent crime — homicides, assaults, shootings, stabbings, etc. Depending on your sources of news, you might have the impression that the world is a constantly dangerous place to be feared. And in some corners, in some circumstances, perhaps it is. But has […]

Photo: Michael Hagerty, Houston Public Media

There’s been a lot of rhetoric in recent years in political ranks about violent crime — homicides, assaults, shootings, stabbings, etc. Depending on your sources of news, you might have the impression that the world is a constantly dangerous place to be feared. And in some corners, in some circumstances, perhaps it is. But has there actually been a rise in violent crime in Houston, across Texas or nationwide?

Well, it depends on the statistics you use and how you interpret them. We discuss how numbers can be manipulated to show, well, just about anything and about how much more vigilant we must all be as news consumers to constantly fact-check statistics and statements we see, hear and read.

Joining us for this conversation are two guests: Lindita Camaj, an assistant professor in journalism and mass communication at the University of Houston, and Christian McDonald, online projects and data editor for the Austin American-Statesman.

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