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February 17, 2012


Statistics don't lie, but people do use statistics to lie. Statistics is simply a tool like a knife is a tool it can be used for good or evil. The user determines which. When in service to the truth, statistics are for the good. When in service to a lie, the evil of deception ensues.

Often a percentage from a research report is repeated correctly but the meaning of the percentage is simplified from the original. Such simplifications are usually wrong.

Here is the original report.

When I hear...

98% XXX
...before I react I automatically think...
Someone is claiming to have divided two numbers.
Then, I ask myself...
Did they, in fact, divide two numbers?
Where did the numbers come from?
Does XXX describe those numbers?

Here is a lie.

Don't miss Tony Perkins supplying the confirmation, "Correct".

You'd think Sen. Hatch would think up something else since Sen. Kyl had already been caught the same lie.

The correct number is 3%, not 95%.


The figures I saw were that a high percentage, 97 to 98 pct of American women, use artificial birth control and that surveys consistently showed that women of the Catholic faith were no different in their use of artificial contraception than women of other faiths, so an extrapolation was made. Regardless, let's say the real number is 88 or 78 pct. Are we really going to see significant numbers of Catholic women rise up and take offense? No, because most use birth control and it doesn't matter to them.


A large proportion of those who do rise up in their dresses and loudly take offense won't be women.



Was there a purpose to that comment, beyond some farcical attempt to sound urbane?

Well-queried, Bennett.


No doubt you pointed out some lie's - and I think the link to the annual Planned Parenthood report was posted once before

But 3% only refers to the number of services, where a visit can result in the administration of several services. You could take the number of abortions (329,445) divided by the number of patients (~3,000,000) all of whom can't be women, and you get at least 11% of the patients getting abortions. The details of the report don't provide enough information to see the what percentage of the budget goes towards abortion costs.


If PP did (only) 1 abortion and 1 Pap smear then PP would say abortion was 50% of what they did.

But if, at the same time, abortion cost 9 times as much as a Pap test, some might say: NO, abortion is 90% of what they do.



Abortions cost about $500.

So 330,000 abortions cost $165 million.

PP revenue for 2008-2009 was about $1.1 billion.

So abortion is about 15% of the PP - financially.

Here is Laura Ingraham telling the lie - about a minute in.

"[M]akes most of its money" is doubly since PP is a non-profit.


Lies, darn lies and statistics... we've heard it all before. The problem is though, this debate has little to do with the use of misleading stats. It has to do with principle. Does the Catholic church stand on its principles in relation to this issue, which, at its core, is about human life? Or does it capitulate and allow secular society to continue to marginalize their long held position? We call for principled leadership in many pursuits. In this context the Catholic Church can draw a line in the sand or it can (like many of us) retreat back further into our respective shrinking fortresses. Eventually we will find that we have been relegated to the cellar and no one will bother us and no one will care. I sometimes think that many would be quite content in this dark and depressing state - life is easy and all my friends agree with me!

So, this has little to do with stats. But it has everything to do with standing up for what you (or in this case, the Catholic Church) believe to be of foundational importance... or maybe this issue isn't so foundational after all. We will see, but in todays society it take a lot to galvanize leadership to take a hard, tumultuous stand. The bigger question is, should the Catholic Church stand on this hill, what will the rest of the Faith community do?


A person can pretty much make statistics say whatever they want to say. The 3% abortion claim of planned parenthood is misleading because not everyone who comes to planned parenthood is pregnant, therefore, can't have an abortion.

However, among pregnant women who go to a planned parenthood office, 10 out of 11 will end up with an abortion.

Sounds like parenthood isn't a big part of the plan.


I agree. If these people are really about choice, then why do they convince nearly every girl that walks through the doors looking for pregnancy help to get an abortion?


Because unwanted pregnancies are a mistake. People shouldn't have to live with their mistakes. Ergo, they should be allowed to vacuum their mistakes out of their womb, and dice them.

See how much easier the choice is when it's just about 'mistakes' and 'pregnancies' that 'just happened'? As long as you keep words like 'child' or 'human being' out of the equation, it's very easy. We'll just pretend that your uterus is infected with some sort of alien parasite. Don't know how it got there, doesn't really matter.

Not to mention the aftereffects. Nevermind issues like uterine fissues, the psychological damage can be profound. I've had three close female friends who'd had abortions. Two were suicidal afterwards, another swore she'd never have a child, because she was unfit to ever be a mother. That sort of thing gets swept under the rug.

It's a choice, but it's a choice that's much easier to make when you're uninformed and deceptively ambiguous about what the choice affects. Which tells us what about said choice?

I thought psychological and tissue damage was debunked and only quoted by anti-choice activists?


Since I'm speaking from personal experience, you'd have a hard time 'debunking' what my friend told me. You could point out that it's anecdotal and not statistical, but it is far from false.

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