Be Wary of Headlines

It has been a terrible week in West Virginia, as 29 miners were confirmed dead in a mine rocked by a methane explosion.  This is the worst loss of life from a single mine accident in the United States in 40 years.  However, the Chinese have accomplished a significant reduction in mining accidents over the last ten years.  In fact, the number of Chinese killed in mining accidents in 2009 was the lowest in decades and less than half of the number killed in 2000.

Mark Twain said there are three kinds of lies; lies, damned lies, and statistics.  The headline “Chinese Safety Record Improves while US Loses 29 miners in West Virginia” can be supported by the statistics below, but no one in their right mind would want to be a Chinese coal miner.

Annual Mine Deaths, 2000 – 2009

Year    United States    China
2009           19              2631
2008           30              3215
2007           28              3786
2006           47              4746
2005           23              5986
2004           28              6027
2003           30              7200
2002           27              5791
2001           42              5670
2000           38              5300

Keep an eye on headlines you read in the press.  They can be “true”, but extremely slanted and misleading.

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