Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Bad statistics can create bad fake news

After Passover and after the High Holidays, requests for divorce spike.

The media bring an academic speculating that that is the result of spending so much time together. I think that’s silly pop-psychology.

Rather, divorce is generally not decided on on a whim. It’s most of the time, years in the making. So, the peaks in divorce requests, I suspect, are mostly coming from deciding to improve one’s life. And that’s the purpose of Pesach in springtime and the Holiday cluster in the fall.

I bet you that she never investigated the cause of these statistics.

* * *

Despite the rain: Festive morning at Western Wall.”

This is too silly to even count as bad news. Nothing can kill the festive mood from Seder Evening — are you kidding? And then: rain. We won’t ask for rain anymore, but we are still grateful for every drop. (We’re not in England, Washington or the Netherlands, where rain is of every day and people long for the sun in vain, year-round daily.)

(That now asking for rain invalidates our prayers after the first morning of Pesach is doubtful. The land is still thirsty for every drop of her heavenly blessing. If we receive this kind of rain also next year, and can start selling water to Turkey, maybe rain will be a curse at Pesach. We’ll talk.)

What’s bad [weather] in general can be good [news] in specific cases.

* * *

“The Israeli youth is getting more Orthodox and more right-wing.”

Again, no details are provided why statistics should prove this. But most likely, traditional parents have more kids, on average, and so, more kids are conservative, in the statistics, because most follow their parents.

The change that never was, I betcha. But that won’t stop people from philosophizing why Israeli youth is more conservative than older folks.

* * *

Men with beards carry more germs than DOGS with deadly bacteria in their facial hair.”

The clean-shaven radiologist Dr. Andreas Gutzeit has told the Daily Mirror that men’s beards are fuller of dangerous bacteria than dogs’ facial hair. “The study” was not published in any medical publication, checked by a statistician or by a bacteriologist, as far as I could find. Which did not prevent the Internet from buzzing about it.

Of course, bacteriologically, human beards must be compared to men’s shaved faces, not to dogs’ hair.

Further, the whole piece is based on the nonsense that washed means fewer bacteria and healthier. The skin must be populated by bacteria. Only human pathogens are bad and they are held back by a steady flora. But dogs do not have human flora. Dogs cleaner? Not a dog’s chance.

* * *

Israel ranked as 8th most influential country in the world — annual report.”

Is this because Israel has so much influence or because so many still believe that the Jews run the media, de banks and world affairs? Is this the opinion of politicians or trolls on the Internet? Neither.

This ranking is based on a survey among “more than 11,000 informed elites.” In other words, the world’s rich think that Israel is so powerful.

This means absolutely nothing about our real power. Especially because anti-Semitism seems the strongest among the rich. (Proof on request.)

* * *

Health Ministry report reveals rate of infections in Israeli hospitals.”

There seems no end to bad statistics in the news today. This “study” is six years old. Totally meaningless about the situation now.

Not to say that the situation has improved any. Just the figures here can’t tell you. A total mystery why this is published now.

Recently, I was in a hospital, visiting. The cleaners cleaned as if tuberculosis is endemic still, cleaning the floors ferociously. But the really dangerous places, door knobs and faucet tabs, were ignored. Sigh.

* * *

In general, don’t believe everything in the news that statistics “prove.”

First of all, most journalists chose a career in writing because they were bad at the simplest math. Any amount in the media is suspect of being off.

On top of this, statisticians (and physicians) like/need publicity. Some almost dead media also need the hype, so no wonder I found most of these reports (4 out of 7, margin of error 0) in the Jerusalem Post.

And here you have a perfect recipe for fake news. Bon appetit.

PS, My previous post on shoddy statistics was friendly rebutted by someone who really knows statistics. He almost convinced me — just kidding. But it’s nice to see how he tries to defend his colleagues and field of work. Though he cherry-picked Feiglin’s party as example and cherry-picking is the worst sin in statistics. Still, his care for the well-being of statistics and statisticians is palpable and worthy too.

About the Author
To subscribe to his daily blog posts, click on the circle next to the blogger's picture, containing a dot with two quarter circles around it (the Feed Computer icon). * The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science, Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. * He likes doing age-appropriate and age-inappropriate things and looks forward to getting to know his timeless mature out-of-the-box soul mate. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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