Posts Tagged ‘Media Math bloopers’

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The Rosetta Project … like throwing a dart from Sydney to Perth and hitting the bullseye

November 28, 2014

Many commentators in Australia claimed that the Philae landing was:

This is equivalent to hitting the bullseye of a dartboard in Perth from Sydney. With a billion euro ($1.4bn) dart. While blindfolded (as the mission was powered down for almost the entire journey). ABC The Drum

Did they get the maths right?

Inner bullseye of dartboard = 12.7 mm

1 Dartboard

67P comet = 4.1 km = 4,100 m at widest point

Distance comet from earth = 520 million km

 Actually, hitting the 67P comment was more like roulette as the Rosetta mothership swung into orbit. And, as the earth and the comet are moving, the distance constantly changes, but you can watch the distance changing here.

Fabulous Graphics from the Daily Telegraph

Fabulous Graphics from the Daily Telegraph

In the Dart Throwers Universe

We will assume someone can stand on earth and throw a dart at the comet … Yes! They would need very big triceps.

3  Dart throwers universe correction

 

So the commentators aren’t even close. It would still be a feat hitting a bullseye with a dart from 160km, but that would be from Sydney to, um, Nowra on the coast. 

WHY?

Comet vs bullseye ratio mathspig

Mt Everest RAtio

4 Dart Throwers universe 3

The distance from Sydney to Perth is 4100 km. At best the commentators would be talking about throwing a dart from Brisbane to Adelaide is 2044km (below).

Brisbane to Adealide

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10 Most Common Maths Errors in the Media

October 12, 2010

Some of the dumbest maths in the media involve maths bloopers. Here are some examples from the Failmath website.

 

The Most Common Maths Errors in the Media, however, come from presenters and/or journalists misunderstanding the maths, even the most basic concepts. 


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1. Hat Wearers Wear Hats

October 12, 2010

Statistics

The SELF SELECTING SAMPLE.

(Thanks Ivy for the No 1 rocket.)

Newspaper and magazine editors urge their readers to ‘click-on our website poll’ and then they publish the results in the next issue. The newspaper may learn about their readership. This is useful information for marketing but otherwise useless. It’s like asking hat wearers if they wear hats. Let me guess the answer? D’uh!

Included here are some results of two self-selecting surveys, which not only reveal the standard useless statistics but also some highly questionable numerical outcomes. In the Esquire Magazine Survey of Drinking (Sept 2010)  82% of their readers, who were willing to answer a survey about their drinking habits (Whereby, for some reason. 1 beer = 2 drinks), have a University Degree or higher (Or, maybe, 50% of them lie!!!!) and in the Health and Fitness (Oct 2010) magazine survey  – Guess what? – magically the numbers for all options add up to 100%. Neat! Didn’t anyone fit more than one category? (Assuming all readers of Health and Fitness mag who are bothered enough to answer a survey on fitness do some exercise.)

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2. My Mum Says Survey

October 12, 2010

Statistics

The SMALL SAMPLE error.

A survey is taken but the number of people surveyed is so small as to be irrelevant; not much better than simply asking your mum for her opinion and publishing the results.

Included here is a full-page Women’s Weekly (Oct 2010) ad for an Elizabeth Arden Anti-wrinkle Cream. Look at these wonderful statics. 92%… 85% …Wow! Look at the language. Gives eyes a ‘radiant and luminous look’ Sounds like the DEVIL!!!! Read the small print.

The survey was based on 30 participants and ‘results may vary’.

                            

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6. Goofy Graphs

October 12, 2010

 Graphs               

When graphs are pretty but provide no real information or are misleading.

Graphs frequently appear in the media with no scales, odd scales or totally misleading scales.

This first graph from the Financial Review: Smart Investor magazine ( Oct 2010) has no scale. You could just scribble a line and call it a graph ( See Above) !!!! Then add a number at the end point to make it look real!

Why use a graph? It’s an investment ad selling an investment product.

The second graph shows that the recent Global Financial Crisis was not so bad. Now look at the y-scale. It’s logarithmic.

Buyer beware of goofy graphs!!!!!

 

Some more useful graphs at Bored Panda Blog:

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10. Dumb Media Maths

October 12, 2010

Statistics

When the numbers are totally fake but no one checks!!!!

The biggest mistake made by journalists in the media is NOT QUESTIONING the numbers or validating the source. Rubbish statistics work their way into the media and become the gospel according to everyone. Sometimes, media maths seems to be written by dummies for dummies.

In an excellent article Numbers UP: Truth About Statistics ( The Independent, UK, 9th April, 2008) Simon Usborne states ‘ Flicking through a day’s newspapers often feels like tackling a numerical assault course.’ He quotes some alarming headlines form the previous day including “Ninety-six per cent of children in European orphanages are not orphans”. “In the UK we throw away 4.4 million apples a year”.

My favourite, however, is :

“Falling coconuts kill 150 people a year” 

In 2002, in an article about the uprooting of coconut trees by lawsuit-wary Australian officials, the Daily Telegraph reported: “Coconuts… kill about 150 people worldwide each year, making them more dangerous than sharks.”

No source has yet been found confirming this statistic.

Similarly,

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania decided to search for the source of the statistic that insisted you should drink 8 glasses of water a day. Their conclusion: “It is unclear where this recommendation came from.” In other words, they could not find any study to support the “eight glasses” claim.

So when you are drinking those 8 glasses of water a day you better look up incase you’re hit on the head by a coconut!!!!!!!