Statistics – Negative and Positive Framing

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Identification

Using negative, emotional, or scary words to present statistics will repulse the reader. Positive words attract us or at least ease our anxiety.  Negative and positive framing distorts the objective information. Corrupt leaders focus on the negative to gain power (see Crisis).

Example

Headlines: "New Pandemic Has 1% Mortality Rate" versus "New Pandemic Has 99% Survival Rate." Politicians and manipulative leaders deploy scarifying language for sometimes virtuous, sometimes sinister reasons: to avoid panic, subdue individuals who know better but do not understand the dynamic, to move people into their limbic system away from the frontal cortex. At the end of the day, good leadership is truth-based.

Solution

Reframe the negative. 1% Mortality sounds bad, but if I am infected with the virus/bacteria, my chances of survival are almost 100%." Statistics used to influence and persuade must be challenged because most users of statistics did not study the scientific method in any depth.

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