It doesn't matter that that factor was already included in the original number. Or that the original figure was developed by people who knew what the hell they were doing, while most Facebook fear figures are generated by people who rely on spellcheck even though spelling words in a row is their only job.
If you could just multiply statistics by bigger numbers, we wouldn't need statistics. Because we'd all be dead from the thousands of appallingly unlikely things which suddenly killed us. The instant a writer starts expanding on the statistics, you should act like they're talking about turbo-charging their car's engine with some nitroglycerin they found. They're not working with what they think they're working with, they don't understand the terms, and you should not go anywhere they're trying to take you because it'll blow up in their face.
Does the story explain exactly how likely something is, or does it stress how much more likely it has become? Because that makes it more likely it's bullshit.
This picture has a major bullshit warning sign in the upper-left corner.
They extracted that headline from a study where the key factors were "17 people out of 4,045" and "we get a nosebleed even trying to spell correlation or causation."
Every time I stand up, I double my chance of being brutally murdered by an Ultron robot body being punched horizontally through several buildings by the Hulk, leading to severe injuries, pain, and disability for the rest of my life, possibly even death, because I've doubled my target profile compared to sitting. But all that talk of how horrible it would be if it happened doesn't change how amazingly unlikely it is in the first place. It doesn't cause me to spend my life sobbing in a huddle in an adamantium-laced basement.
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Though that's a rational response to another Spider-Man reboot.
This is most often seen in health arguments, where it's screamed that something now triples a 0.0000001 percent chance (among a study of 200 middle-aged men who had nothing better to do than fill out an bacon survey).
Statistics can uncover amazing results. They operate at a level far beyond our ability to picture, because the human mind simply cannot deal with the idea that there are 7 billion anything. But stats are a mathematical crowbar: a very useful tool in the hands of smart scientists, but one which also can be misused to hurt people and take things and get into positions people shouldn't.
Follow these rules and you'll be shielded from most of the bullshit. Yes, that will mean ignoring most of the things you see shared online, but that's OK, because the only universally applicable statistic is Sturgeon's law: Ninety percent of everything is crap. The work is finding the other 10 and building a world out of it.
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Luke knows what the other 90 percent of your brain is doing, tumbles, and responds to every single tweet.