Media: Bad reporting with numbers – “The fastest-growing cities face some of the biggest climate risks”

Media: Bad reporting with numbers – “The fastest-growing cities face some of the biggest climate risks”

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Can you spot the problem?

Source: The fastest-growing cities face some of the biggest climate risks

The article never gives a number, only percentages.

Without the initial, starting value – a percentage increase or decrease tells us nothing.

For example, suppose city C saw an increase of +100%. That’s a big scary percentage. But what if we then learned that this went from 1 day to 2 days (which is +100%)? Would your gut level reaction of an increase from 1 to 2 be the same as your reaction to an increase of +100%?

Our eyes and brain respond quickly to the large percent increases – they are, in fact, “eye catching”.

Second, was there any change on the other end of the range – that is, were there more temperatures less than 5% of the historic low temperatures? Doesn’t say.

Third, did the reporters attempt to check data quality? They don’t say. One simple check would be that when they find a +700% increase, was there a similar increase at other nearby reporting stations? If not, then that would suggest other factors are at work. But they tell us nothing.

By the end of this short “news report”, we learn that reporters are not good at dealing with numerical data and conveying accurate information.

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