Something the media do all too often is take two things together and pronounce their combined increase to make something not bad sound bad.
For example if murders increased by 2% and assaults increased by 30%, you sometimes get a headline saying “murders and assaults up 29%”, and the average person will think murders have gone up 29%.
We see this in The Press, where it is stated:
Canterbury is heading for its highest road toll in eight years, with cellphone use and a failure to wear seatbelts blamed for nearly one-third of the deaths.
Now you read that and think oh My God cellphones are increasing the road toll massively.
Then we get the numbers. Of 55 deaths, 15 are blamed on no seatbelts and two on cellphone use. So in fact cellphone use is responsible for 3.6% of the fatalities and seatbelts for 27%.
But how many people will go on and work out cellphone use is less than 4%? People will just remember the sub-headline that “seatbelts and cellphones have increased deaths by a third”No tag for this post.