Statistics are a valuable resource when trying to convey a message to an audience. However, Davis points out the risks that comes with using these tools. The major point behind his argument is that statistics have become a mistrusted source of information because of the impact that emotion plays in portraying these statistics. In today’s world, we see statistics all around us: some that are beneficial to our beliefs, some that may conflict. Either way, statistics play a large role in our everyday lives. So why then, do we struggle with believing all statistics that we see? This is exactly what Davis was investigating. As seen through his history review of statistics, they were essentially made for the elite. However, he urges the readers to considers statistics as tools instead of unquestionable truths or elite conspiracies. As you may have dealt with yourself, statistics play a significant role in most campaigns, especially in scientific and factual based campaigns. In the case for my campaign, statistics play a key role. For example, in my first campaign piece (website) I give this set of stats:
- Water makes up about 71% of the Earth’s surface.
- A shocking 96.5% of that water is salt water, coming from the oceans.
- While 3.5% is freshwater, coming from lakes and frozen water in the polar ice caps.
- Of the 3.5% freshwater, 69% takes the form of ice.
- Therefore, 0.77% of the Earth’s water is drinkable liquid freshwater.
Sounds interesting, right? Well even those these statistics may seem “shocking” or “crazy”, how does one exactly define these and how credible can they possibly be? This is the dilemma that Davis focused on. Similar to his GDP example for people living in Welsh valleys, for the people like us who live in a “world” that water surrounds our every move and think nothing of it, why should we even take the statistics for half their worth. Of course, as opposed to someone in Uganda struggling to find water. Who do you would believe this statistic more? Who would this have more carry with, as an audience? Therefore, it is easy to see how statistics can be interpreted.
Considering that my audience is from the “world” I spoke of before, it may be possible that these statistics may be mistrusted. This is a common problem with statistics, especially in the world we live in today with all the “fake news” and media propaganda. How do I react if these statistics are not taken for their worth? Well personally, the way I would deal with it is allowing the audience to provide their possible statistics. If you do not think that .77% of the Earth’s water is drinkable, how much is? A little reverse psychology, maybe? This combatant method may force them into looking up their own statistics may be able to trick them into reading more about the subject. Who knows, they may be like, “Wow, this is really bad. I need to do something about this.” Either way, getting them to consider the matter can only be beneficial.
In summary, statistics play a large role in campaigning and many other aspects. That is why it is important to, not exactly take them at their face value, but to investigate them and form your own evidence whether or not to believe these statistics.