The old saw asserting there are "lies, damned lies, and statistics" will afflict us until educational and schooling standards rise once more. For the present we see commentators and reporters and government officials and politicians misusing statistics frequently. Largely, they get away with it.
To this imbroglio we must add the recent phenomenon of the main stream media being captured by political animus against conservatives in general, and the Trump administration, in particular. The sobriquet "fake news" has been deployed to characterise how en masse the media are framing everything they can find to ridicule and undermine the new US federal administration. As Churchill used to say, by the time a lie is corrected, it has gone around the world, before the truth gets out of bed and puts its pants on. Never was this more the case than in our days, where the animus of the media is so extreme.
Here is one "little exchange" to illustrate the point. The topic: immigration to the US.
President Trump asserts that Christian refugees to the US from Syria ad been systematically discriminated against by the Obama administration in favour of Muslim migrants from that same country. The BBC pounced upon that statement and said it's all "lies, damned lies, and statistics." This is useful to their cause because one of the "Trump frames" being alleged ad nauseam is that the President is a liar.
Here is the BBC:
The BBC has reported that a recent claim by U.S. President Donald J. Trump that under his predecessor, President Barack Obama, it was “almost impossible” for Syrian Christians to claim asylum in the United States was “without any factual basis”. [Breitbart News]That is, Trump is telling lies. He is making things up. Fake news!
The BBC’s report was prompted by an interview President Trump gave to a Christian TV network, in which he confirmed that he will be altering the U.S. refugee policy to prioritise persecuted Christians. Trump told the interviewer: “They [Syrian Christians] have been horribly treated. Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least very, very tough to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian it was almost impossible.”According to the BBC, Trump's claim was a lie. Not so fast, said the Barnabas Fund--an organisation which is very particular about statistics and their use.
But according to the Barnabas Fund, a charity working on the behalf of persecuted Christians worldwide, statistics on Syrian refugees in America suggest that Trump’s statement is evidence based. The charity has called upon the BBC to apologise for the misleading statement and issue a correction. So far the corporation has failed to do so.
The charity has pointed to figures showing that, of the thousands of Syrian refugees arriving in the USA last year only 56 people in total were Christians, equivalent to 0.5 percent of the total, while the vast majority – 99 per cent – were Sunni Muslims. This is despite Christians making up 10 per cent of the pre-war population in Syria, and the fact that in March 2016, then US Secretary of State John Kerry declaring that Christians were facing genocide in the region.Well, that seems to represent evidence that the Obama administration's policy on Syrian immigration was profoundly prejudiced against Christians. Nah, said the BBC.
A BBC spokesperson has told Breitbart London: “Nick Bryant’s report was informed by analysis from the Pew Center, which show that overall broadly equal numbers of Christians and Muslim refugees were admitted to the US in 2016. There is no evidence a disparity in the numbers coming from Syria has arisen because of actions by the United States.”Note the deceptive and misleading response. The charge Trump made was that the Obama administration discriminated against Christian refugees from Syria, in favour of Islamic refugees. Can't be, said the BBC, because the total immigration figures show the US was admitting equal numbers of Christians and Muslims.
Imagine the jibes in the school yard if a middle schooler were to claim that rain predominated over the past week only to be "refuted" by the class monitor who pointed out that over the past year the incidence of rain and sunshine had been equal. Imagine further the inanity of class monitor if he went on to claim there was "no evidence" of rain being more frequent than sunshine.
Yet the BBC has been that stupid. Well, more like dumb and dumber, coupled with a huge dose of animus against the US president. The phrase "Trump Derangement Syndrome" appears to be an apt characterisation of what is now roiling around the globe every news cycle.
The Barnabas Fund called time on this particular BBC inanity:
Barnabas Fund refute this claim, saying: “There have been claims that the previous administration could not have been discriminating against Christians as the total numbers of Christian (44 per cent) and Muslim refugees (46 per cent) admitted to the USA were similar. However, this is a misuse of statistics because these totals primarily reflect which countries have crises causing refugee movements.How did the BBC respond to the Barnabas Fund's coup de grace? By giving evidence that it is dumber than a sack of hammers--or corrupt--or both:
“It is therefore almost impossible, using that kind of raw data, to say anything meaningful about whether Christians/Muslims are being discriminated against. However, where Christians are BOTH being specifically targeted as they are in Syria AND very significantly underrepresented in the number given entry to the USA then it is almost certain that they are facing significant discrimination.”
The BBC spokesman added: “We stand by our journalism. There are established procedures that are open to Barnabus Fund to follow if they remain unhappy with our impartial journalism. Any correspondence we receive will of course receive full consideration and reply.” [Emphasis, ours]No waiting with bated breath at this end. One wonders what "full consideration" means within the BBC these days.