Irish Examiner innumeracy

Here’s a great example of numerical illiteracy spotted by my mate Tom:

some classic reporting in the Irish Examiner today

“Department staff clocked up 20,000 sick days in the three years” is the headline. Closer examination of the article reveals there are 5,000 people in the department. Do the maths (which the paper doesn’t – I wonder why) and that’s a SHOCKING 1.3 sick days a year.

Even better is this quote: “Department of Agriculture staff clocked up 3,095 uncertified sick days last year – 653 of these on a Monday”

So that would be about a fifth of the sick days being taken on one of the five working days in the week. DISGRACE!

Let’s hear it for old media’s commitment to quality journalism!

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4 Comments

  1. Posted May 1, 2009 at 11:08 | Permalink

    Nice catch :)

  2. David Malone
    Posted May 1, 2009 at 20:02 | Permalink

    Both the Small Firms Association and IBEC have issued press statements demonstrating that they don’t know that 2/5 is 40%. I’ve seen both RTE and Irish Times pick up on this and report it as news, without taking the piss out of them.

  3. Posted May 3, 2009 at 14:22 | Permalink

    I wish I remembered where I recently saw a newspaper proclaiming, outraged, that fully 40% of absences for illness occur on a Monday or Friday.

  4. Posted May 5, 2009 at 10:24 | Permalink

    I used to think Dilbert was satire. Now I realise it’s more documentary: http://www.mathbench.umd.edu/mod106_chisquare/page02.htm