Friday, October 28, 2011
The UN and other organizations are making much of the seven billionth person born into the world. This article points out that it is impossible to know or to pick which baby is actually number seven billion. Any attempt to do so is fallacious and an act of Disestimation -- "taking a number too literally, understating or ignoring the uncertainties that surround it. " That won't stop the publicity hoopla, however. Authorities will simply ignore mathematical imprecision. As the author points out, however, this error is dangerous because it provides an aura of authenticity that isn't there. PR practitioners have been guilt of Disestimation, and it is a mistake to guard against. There is too much junk data in the world as it is.