Monday, December 01, 2003

GARBAGE IN ... GARBAGE OUT

If you're bored it's always interesting to read the same story written by two difference news organizations.

A good example is a report by the UN (that paragon of objective truth) last week that claimed there was an increase in the number of hungry people in the world. How they measure "hungry" is the interesting part to me (more about that later).

In its reporting of the UN report USA Today was pretty matter-of-fact, providing the high points of the story, but importantly including how "hunger" is measured.

The New York Times provided more detail, but conveniently left out the UN's "hunger" measurement. Hmmm.

I think I know why. You see, the standard is based upon a 2,300 calorie a day diet. That's probably a low number if you do a tremendous amount of physical labor each day, but most people would gain weight if their diet was 2,300 calories a day. The "hunger" level they set is something between 1,400 and 1,700 calories a day, enough for most people with a fairly inactive lifestyle to maintain their weight -- a "rich" diet for a supermodel.

In fact, I'd guess that if The New York Times surveyed it's own staff in New York, they'd discover that many are below the "hunger" threshold.

Wonderful thing, statistics.


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