16 August 2011

This might be the most misleading statistic, ever

Have you seen this tweet?
"Debt increase by presidents: Reagan 186%, Bush 54% Clinton 41% Bush II 72% Obama 23%"
They say you can use statistics to say anything you want, and this is the perfect example.

Consider the follow numbers (taken from here), which represent the number of trillions in debt added per president during their term:

Reagan: $1.873T or $234 billion per year
Bush I: $1.483T or $370 billion per year
Clinton: $1.419T $177 billion per year
Bush II: $6.106T or $763 billion per year
Obama (through 2010): $1.653T or $826 billion per year

Paints a very different picture, doesn't it!

How is this even possible? Because, as you can see by looking at both sets of numbers, the actual value of a percent for Reagan is different for a percent for Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, or Obama. The unique percentage for each president is taken at that time, so the number of dollars that represents a percent is different for each President. This is more then disingenuous, it's absolutely rigging the numbers for political gain.
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