Queer Numbers

When did accurate math, or basic logic for that matter, become optional in reporting?

I pine for the days when the media were merely mediocre.  Now, they are downright irresponsible and grossly imbecilic.  It seems that with increasing regularity the media manages to botch concepts that generally require no more than an average grade school education.  No wonder the U.S. is in the 20th percentile in math and science.

A case in point, this story from CNN.com.

The story cites a study that says about 3.4% of Americans identify as LGBT. “LGBT” is what we used to call “gay.” “Gay” is what what we used to call “homosexual.”  Before the widespread use of “homosexual” there were no gay people.

Three point four percent. In other words, if you had a pie and cut it into 100 pieces, only three and a half of those pieces would be gay.

So, imagine your disappointment at realizing we aren’t going to have a 21st century Renaissance just after clicking on the headline that proclaimed:

1 in 3 Americans identify as LGBT

First off, 1 in 3 Americans aren’t anything – other than adamant they don’t like two out of three Americans.

I can see the law school professor talking to the first year students: “look to your left, look to your right.  One of you won’t be here next semester – and it probably won’t be the gay one.”

So, sure, anyone can make a mistake, but if you’re CNN the challenges of simple arithmetic don’t stop at the headline.

The story goes on to say:

Of note in the latest Gallup survey, released Thursday, is the fact that non-whites are more likely to identify themselves as LGBT than whites, which challenges common belief that large numbers of the community are white, male and wealthy. The Gallup poll showed that 4.6% of African-Americans identify as LGBT along with 4% of Latinos and 4.3% of Asian-Americans. Only 3.2% of white Americans say they are LGBT.
 

Clearly the only way the conclusion make sense is if there are an equal number of African American (which is what we used to call “black” after we stopped using “negro” after Strom Thurmond died), Latino, Asian, and White pies.  But even if our slack-jawed reporter is too lazy for a Google search, common sense alone alone tells us that’s not true. Or at least I think it’s not true – but I also never would have guessed 33% of us are gay.

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One Response to Queer Numbers

  1. Greg Q says:

    Hey Joe,
    Hard to imagine, but the CNN figure is accurate — 3.4% (3.4 out of 100) In fact the Gallup poll people have an interesting story about how most American’s overestimate the LGBT population.
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/147824/adults-estimate-americans-gay-lesbian.aspx

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