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Misleading Statistics

CONTENTS

Zen & Understanding the Middle East

Introduction
Sellers' Market
Will to Believe
Rules of Thumb

"The truth is out there "
Use & misuse of words
False information signals more false information
Technical whiz-bang
Understand the Context
Lies, More Lies, Damn Lies and Newspapers
Beware of Generalizations
Theology and scripture
Misleading Statistics
Smoke in your eyes:
What is Missing?
Myth versus fact versus narrative
The past was not like the present; the future will be different

Fallacy Recognition in the Middle East

Fallacies and Arguments
Cause and Effect
Slippery Slope
Gambler's Fallacy
Ad Hominem
Authority
Beliefs
Appeal to Novelty
Appeal to Emotion
Appeal to Tradition
False Dilemma or Black and White Thinking
Special Pleading
The Spotlight Fallacy
Who is to Say?

Fallacy Handbook

Misleading Statistics

Nothing has greater power to convince than numbers, and nothing has more credibility than statistics about population, land ownership and the like. The unsuspecting reader can have no inkling that the numbers have been doctored, or that the basis of the numbers is dubious. Half a dozen sources regarding the "population of Palestine" in Ottoman times will give half a dozen widely differing numbers for various reasons. Depending on their point of view they may inflate census figures, count different parts of the land (there was no entity called "Palestine" before 1917) or rely on dubious sources (see http://www.mideastweb.org/palpop.htm ). Common sense and first hand experience must prevail against fantastic assertions that there were no Jews in Palestine under the Ottomans or no Arabs. People whose families lived in the country at the time know that there were both Jews and Arabs here.


For political reasons, some want to make the case that the Arab birth rate in Israel is very high. Others want to make the case that it is much lower. Sure enough, each group can "prove" that they are right, presenting cut and dried statistics that contradict each other.


Always double check statistics against other sources before believing an argument based on statistics.


Dozens of books, articles and Web sites make the claim that about 45% of the land of Palestine in 1948 was "Arab Land" or government land, while only 8% was "Jewish land." They do not tell you that most of the "Arab Land" was not owned by individual Arabs. It belonged to villages or it belonged to the crown and was leased to specific persons or it was held in common. The British could not sort out the ownership rights, and so they listed all the land that was used by Arabs as "Arab Land" for tax registration purposes. All the "Jewish land" in contrast was bought and paid for with properly registered deeds.

 

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Copyright

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