One of the most controversial subjects in the church is that of creation. Did God create the world in billions of years, or six, 24-hour days? Did it happen by a Big Bang, or did God breath creation into existence a few thousand years ago? Did animals evolve on their own, under God’s direction, or were they created in less than a week? What kind of day is “yom” referring to? How does a believer reconcile faith and science?
Statistics have always been used to obscure the truth. There’s the famous quote by British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, and popularized by Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Sadly, nothing has changed. In fact, it’s gotten worse.
The problem is that statistics isn’t a popular subject, and many people happily avoid taking any classes that cover the topic. (It was affectionately known as “Sadistics” when I was in college.) We’re easily led astray by official-sounding numbers, especially if the conclusion is one we already agree with. While we (thankfully) don’t need to worry about Chebychev’s Rules, Probability Distribution Functions, or Stem and Leaf Diagrams, we should know how statistics work, and how they can be used to fool us. There are numerous ways in which statistics can be misleading. I ran into one of them while reading the news this week.
In the wake of the recent spate of mass shootings, gun control is again being debated. I had just finished reading some opinion pieces (now called “news”) both for and against more restrictive laws, when I came across this article in Newsweek:
Wondering how a chicken lunch could be considered offensive and racist, I clicked on the article. I learned that eating chicken for lunch is considered a black stereotype, so a social program targeting chicken lunches is offending some people. (Really? Fried chicken is racist? I thought it was just delicious!)
Great adventures make great stories, the kind we love to hear about. There’s the suspense—will the hero live to overcome evil? There’s the thrill of God’s light and love overcoming darkness. We all love a good page-turner.
In this case, the circumstances are real and the story is true.
Disclaimer: I have not read this book—yet. However, the author, Dan Baumann, recently came and talked to our missions-oriented Sunday school class. If his book is half as good as his talk, you have to read it! I certainly plan to.
The blurb on my news feed was alarming:
Hot tea nearly doubles your risk of esophageal cancer
When we think about tea, we usually associate it with health benefits. But a new study from the International Journal of Cancer, says drinking hot tea increases…
As a passionate tea drinker, my initial take would be one of concern, alarm even—which is just what the news site intended. Oh no, is my tea bad for me? Yet another supposedly healthy food causes cancer? Should I stop drinking it? So of course I click on the link to read the rest of the article—and to inadvertently view all the ads.
Done any hurtling lately?
A recent headline on Forbes cited a journal article in the Royal Astronomical Society:
“Milky Way will collide with nearby galaxy,
hurtling solar system into space, report says”
The phrase appears again in the article: “The impact could send our solar system hurtling into space.”
How would I describe the perfect novel? It would have to be a page-turner, one that would keep me up past my bedtime. I’d want a creative, twisty plot—nothing predictable, please. The characters should three-dimensional, with complex, imperfect personalities—I don’t have to like them all, but they should be people I can relate to. The book would have to be well-written (the curse of being an editor), the events significant. Finally, there should be enough romance to make me smile.
I guess you could call me a “highly selective” reader.