Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Fun with numbers

I have now seen a confusing abortion statistic twice. The first time it was on a conservative organization's web page, so I didn't think much about the numbers being skewed. But now I've seen it again in the newest Atlantic Monthly, and I'm starting to think it's me. I'm no math whiz, so can anyone explain how the following could possibly be true:

"Every year slightly more than 20% of pregnancies across the world are ended by abortions--35 abortions for every 1,000 women of childbearing age, according to The Alan Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit research organization that studies reproductive issues."

I thought that 20% number seemed *awfully* high, and the numbers they give seem to back me up. Am I completely retarded, or is 35 out of 1000 only 3.5%? And isn't that far less than 20%? Are the two statements in the opening sentence supposed to be completely unrelated? Either there has been some kind of error (that is being repeated, since I've seen this stat before) or I am totally doomed on my GRE.


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