Monthly Archives: February 2018


Statistics are not easy to understand. They speak broadly of a whole population but say nothing about individual cases. I was watching a show on TV recently that reported that a study has found that in 70% of households women do more of the domestic duties (cleaning, cooking, ironing etc.) than men. A male commentator then rubbished the study, saying that he did nearly all of the housework, so it was obviously wrong!
But 70% means 70%, not 100%. If the study surveyed 1000 households and found that in 700 of them, women do more of the work, then that equates to 70%. In 300 households, men do more of the work. Finding an exception to a majority doesn’t change the underlying statistics.
Statistics say nothing about individual cases, only about whole populations.

However, politics is not necessarily about accurate statistics. Politics is about winning voters over, so it might be more common to hear that “woman do more housework than men, so things could be better”, or more emphatically, “woman are burdened with far more of the housework in society. This is unacceptable…” Statistics are important, but they don’t on their own have any inherent value because value is measured by humans emotionally, not really rationally!