misleading statistics in the economist


proof that “top scientists” or “top economists” can be hopeless in simple arithmetic:

The Economist posted this chart about the so called opportunity cost of watching a youtube video called Gangnam Style

just in case somebody did not know what Gangnam Style is: http://youtu.be/9bZkp7q19f0

The Economist’s graphic is misleading because the hours clocked in watching that video is distributed across geography as well as across time. reality is that 140million hours were not spent in serial mode while viewing that video, they were spent in parallel mode – parallel across geographic locations. the buildings portrayed in the graphic were built in their respective, single geographic location within a serial time frame. this goes to prove that some well known columnists can botch simple arithmetic. their logic in simply multiplying number of views with video length is so hopelessly wrong.

i can imagine that many people who read The Economist wont even figure out why it is wrong but a look at the comments under the article shows that there are sufficiently many people who do understand that such statistics about wastage are a waste. indeed, the concept of man-hours is not a standard unit and doesn’t actually explain what quality of work can be achieved in one man-hour (a lesson for every industrial engineer).

i wonder, how come those authors weren’t able to figure out that 1600 years have not passed since the year 2012? :P

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