2016-03-09 / Front Page

Internet In Bloom For The Layperson

By Ted J. Bloom

Ted Bloom, MLS., MSEd., CPL.,CKMI., NP has been a published columnist in New York since 1999. A librarian and professor with two graduate degrees, some of his credentials include, creating and running a career preparation computer lab for at-risk youth through the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as being a Notary Public, SUNY Communications Instructor, a YMCA Director and a Certified Krav Maga Instructor. His first book The Librarian's Guide to Employment in the Information Age is now available on Amazon.com and iTunes.Ted Bloom, MLS., MSEd., CPL.,CKMI., NP has been a published columnist in New York since 1999. A librarian and professor with two graduate degrees, some of his credentials include, creating and running a career preparation computer lab for at-risk youth through the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as being a Notary Public, SUNY Communications Instructor, a YMCA Director and a Certified Krav Maga Instructor. His first book The Librarian's Guide to Employment in the Information Age is now available on Amazon.com and iTunes.

"Beware the ides of March" because this is a presidential election year and already the media freak-show has reared its ugly head.  For example, The DOL (Department of Labor) monthly job report is as rosey as ever with consecutive job growth.  However, if our economy is so strong, how come the NYPD reports over 600 slashings and stabbings in New York City since January 1st, this year: an increase of twenty-one percent since last year?  If the best form of welfare is a job, where are these jobs?  Are they full or part-time?  Do they pay a living wage or come with decent benefits?  Do these numbers include our prison and hospital populations?  What about those that have stopped looking or just moved to another country?  How come as a native NewYorker and battle hardened strap-hanger for years, I have never seen so many homeless living in our MTA subways and on our cold, crowded streets this winter?  No wonder slashings and stabbings have increased--thousands are furious, hungry and hurting, thanks in large part, to our economy.

Consequently, there is much we the people can do to educate ourselves using the Internet to sort out the lies from the truth, be they from our sources, politicians, the media or even global governments.  Visit http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/stat3.html for a refreshing look at how to lie and cheat with statistics, complete with graphics.  For example, when you hear the word average, is the source referring to the mean, median or mode?  The differences are crucial.  Another great site online for learning to spot fraud is http://www.seobook.com/how-lie-statistics  which reminds us that correlation is not necessarily causation.  A third site worthy of mention uses a slide presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/lhoelter/teaching-students-how-not-to-lie-with-statistics  stressing the approach of avoiding lies when using statistics.  This site reminds us to question everything.  For example, if a sample was used how was it arrived at?  Was anything purposely excluded to bias the outcome?  Can the example be repeated accurately over time?  Are any important trends being overlooked or omitted?

Lastly, there are a few excellent books that review ways to protect one from lies and fraudulent stats: How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff is a classic.  The Honest Truth About Lying with Statistics by Cooper Holmes.  Even The Librarian's Guide to Employment in the Information Age by Ted Bloom, has several well thought out, street-wise chapters on ways to protect oneself and one's job from pernicious bosses, nefarious coworkers and misguided clients in today's dog-eat-dog workplace.  All three books may be found online at Amazon.com.

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