Friday, March 26, 2010

Lies and Damn Lies

One of my pet peeves is when people, especially those in the media, play loose with statistics just to make a point. For example: today's front page story in the Metro. A Chinese Canadian's life was saved by a stem cell donation, all well and good. But the real moral of the story is how it's hard for Chinese Canadians to find compatible donors.
It’s a “miracle” he found two matches in three months, Chu said, because the Chinese population is dramatically underrepresented on the national stem cell donor database, OneMatch. [...] Chinese donors make up only 2 per cent of those registered on OneMatch, compared to 82 per cent of registered Caucasian donors.
And therein lies the problem. The Chinese are "dramatically underrepresented" because only 2% of registered donors are Chinese. Meanwhile, an astonishing 82% of registered donors are Caucasians! What a travesty!

To merit the claim that the Chinese are "dramatically underrepresented," you need to have some context.
“For (Chinese Canadians) to represent such a small piece of the pie, that’s just embarrassing, considering how many Chinese people there are in Vancouver.” Chu added the under representation is likely due to old world values.
Does anyone else see the problem in comparing Chinese representation in the national stem cell donor database to the Chinese population of one of the most Chinese cities in North America?

According to Canada's 2006 Census, 83.8% of the population are "non-visible-minority" (Canadianese for Caucasian), and 3.7% of the population are Chinese. Compare that to their representation in the donor database, and both groups come up short about 1.7-1.8%. That would be within the margin of error of any random selection of Canadians.

In other words: The statistic is meaningless, with just a little bit of context. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the guy lived. But he can rest easy knowing he doesn't need any scapegoats like "old world values" to explain his nonexistant "dramatic underrepresentation."

No comments:

Post a Comment