“2,039 Millionaires!”

I saw that on a billboard advertising the state lottery.

This is a good example of a true, but misleading statistic. The lottery’s ad company used it because it’s compelling.

In our feeble minds, we think, ‘wow, 2,039, that’s a lot…why couldn’t that be me?” Of course, that’s exactly what the marketing company hopes you think.

It’s easy for us to get our heads around 2,039. It’s a number we deal with often. We know it’s a lot, but it’s not so much that we can’t picture it. It’s a few sections of an arena at a concert. We probably didn’t know the lottery had created that many millionaires.

It is a wonderful use of stats to sway opinion.

It wasn’t lost on me that this is the same way stats are used to sway public opinion on other things, like this Newsweek article that cites the number of people killed by police officers since Mike Brown: 2,506.

While both of these stats are true, the way they are used is misleading and there are more pertinent facts.

The more pertinent fact for the lottery is your chances of becoming a millionaire by playing it. That’s much less compelling.

Advertisements

Comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s