Talking Heads and Twisting Facts
I can't bring myself to actually submit comments on most 'news' sites, given the general quality of those comment sections.
However, I do find myself sometimes reading really terrible uses of true information in an attempt to support one opinion or another ... and I want to have the chance to complain about these misuses and either have my opinion confirmed or have it pointed out to me why I am confused.
I suspect I'm not alone, so I'll begin my rant with the latest 'opinion' piece on CNN from William J Bennett, http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/22/opinio....
He has had a couple of doosies lately, but this one is a poorly made argument as to why federal financial aid for college students is a failure, as he predicted it would be in 1987. Now, I'm not at all sure if his theory is correct or not, on the face of things, there is some logic to it, but he completely fails to give any compelling evidence.
At one point, he does try to use some numbers to make his point:
Furthermore, taxpayers are getting fewer returns for their money. In 2009, the six-year graduation rate of bachelor's students was 56% in the United States. In 1997, it was 52%. During that time period, student aid skyrocketed. According to the College Board, "Total student aid increased by about 84% in inflation-adjusted dollars over the decade from 1997-98 to 2007-08." Taxpayers are subsidizing higher education at greater and greater costs while institutional performance has not kept up.
Who in their right mind would ever believe that an increase in Financial Aid would lead to an increase in college graduation rates? This man was once the Secretary of Education ... so either he either lacks any understanding of the purpose of Financial Aid (to allow those who can not afford a college education on their own a chance to attend college) and therefore was incredibly unqualified for such a position, or he is intentionally putting together numbers in an irrelevant fashion in the belief that his readers will be too dense to see that they in no way support his claim.
In fact, if you look at the raw data available from the survey he mentions, http://www.higheredinfo.org/dbrowser... , the number of incoming freshmen in 1991 was 958,343, which increased to 1,457,717 in 2003. That is a 52% increase in the number of students seeking Bachelor degrees. If you look at students seeking an Associates degree, the increase is 71.5%.
So, before I continue accusing this guy of either being a dunce, or attempting to mislead others to advance his goal of decreasing the chances for 'class mobility', can someone tell me if I missed something?
And, feel free to add other examples where you think a talking head is abusing true information in this fashion.