Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics – Chamber Survey Twisted

lies_damnedliesDescribing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments, Mark Twain said, “there are 3 types of lies: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics” It is also sometimes colloquially used to doubt statistics used to prove an opponent’s point.

In the July 16th article NOLA.com article, “Fracking receives support in survey of St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce members,” Robert Rhoden’s article would lead the reader to believe that an overwhelming percent of St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce members support fracking. However, when we take a look at the numbers, it’s a hard claim to support.

 

Rhoden reports 69% of 212 respondents – less that 147 Chamber members – support fracking. With 1,100 members, that’s less than 14% of the Chamber’s membership.

In a well-balanced article, wouldn’t a reasonable reporter ask how such a small number could be considered “support” for the fracking project?  Last week we pointed out that fracking companies are buying-off home owners near fracking wells if they agree to release them from legal liability. Could this article be the first sign of big oil money influencing the opinions of our local media? We’re not accusing anyone of anything…we’re just asking.

We attempted to contact Mr. Rhoden about the article in a few emails. He has yet to respond.