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Statistics Schmatistics

Statistics Schmatistics

In 1986, female readers of Newsweek magazine were told something that likely made them spit out their morning coffee. According to a cover story called "Too Late for Prince Charming," unmarried spinsters might as well have just resigned to a life of chaste solitude because statistics at the time said that, "40-year-old women are more likely to be killed by a terrorist" than to be married.

Can't you just see the "Cathy" cartoon? ACK!

Just how this factoid made it into the national vernacular is a bit fuzzy, but it basically comes down to a journalistic version of the telephone game. You know, when a group of kids sit in a circle and whisper a secret like "Johnny sniffs glue" until it turns into "I'm in love with you." The premise of the claim was taken from a joint study between Yale and Harvard researchers about the difference in marrying rates between whites and blacks, but it turns out that their mathematical model was incorrect.

If you've read any alarming statistics lately, take them with a grain of salt. If you want to get married after 40, lose 20 pounds or fly to the moon, don't let some silly statistics hold you back. After all, out of the 14 single women Newsweek originally interviewed in 1986, about three fourths are now married.

Heard any crazy love stats lately? [ABC Australia]

Posted: 9/16/08
Lourdes542

I agree. I hate the divorce stats that news organizations like to whip out every now and then. The 50% divorce rate has been argued up and down, left and right and no one can agree on it. I get that people would want to quantify it somehow, but if it's so off, what's the point?

aliciak

Yeah, stats be misleading and also really discouraging! And when it comes to something like love, it's definitely NOT formulaic! There's no easy equation or simple math involved. Come on, it's love!

  • By aliciak
  • on 9/16/08 12:32 PM EST