Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Statistics of sick thinking

The current ongoing discussion of MOOP (taking money out of politics) is bound to take a few sidetracks - directly related and otherwise.

My blog-cobber, Abi, supported his marginally outrageous position with statistics, something we tend to do when they appear to favour our point of view. Though, to be fair, I'm sure Abi will have combed the raw data to ensure his stats met the criteria of ‘empirical evidence' of his case.

But I am wary of stats as delivered, pre-digested, by the media. I was sent a fascinating example, today, of just how ludicrous some of the statistical claims can be. I think the story came from Reuters, at least they came up on a Google news search of the headline: Australians among longest living in world.

The fact is, statistically, non-indigenous Australians are all that matters. The article went on to detail the other side as though they were something else again; "poverty, discrimination, substance abuse and poor access to health, are believed to affect the lifespan of these original Australians."

Well bugger me with a fish fork! The Aborigines still don't count as people! Funny thing is, I don't know quite how to express my anger at this so everyone realises I'm sitting here fucking fuming!

Let me explain. Back when I was a young sprog, mid teens, this was the very issue that sucked me into the world of politics. There was a referendum on the books which aimed to have indigenous Australians included (at the very least) in the national census count. A referendum which, if approved, would class Aboriginals as people.

Well against the odds of the Australian referendum system, this one actually passed, and did so convincingly. It still stands as one of the very few to run that near impossible gauntlet. Yet now, half a decade on, statistics can still exclude a whole race of people to make a fairly tenuous point.

I haven't seen the raw figures on this report, but I'm wondering if we Australians can still claim this wondrous longevity if we include the Abos, the boongs or whatever other term we want to use to reduce them back to sub-human. What are we? the longest living group of racists on the planet?

I still regret the day I got involved in giving my fellow countrymen the excuse to ignore the tragedy of ‘the blackfella'. I want my statistics, my politics and my rationalisations to deliver a damn sight more than that!


abi said...

Calm down, cartledge, or you'll bring down the Aussie longevity average. Besides, you can't have inconvenient facts messing up perfectly good statistics.

Cartledge said...

Fair go cobber, you have to take your excitement where you can get it out here in this bleak wilderness.
The little outburst is only the result of so few excitements.