Lies, $#&* Lies, and Statistics

Here is an interesting follow up to the statistics quoted in Waiting for Superman. I’ve not seen the movie yet, but find it interesting that the statistics being bandied about from the movie are being called into question. The great thing about statistics is that you can make them say just about whatever you want.

Here’s the start of the blog post:

In the movie Waiting for Superman, nominated for an Oscar as the best Documentary of 2010, the following statement is made:

” …in Illinois, 1 in 57 doctors loses his or her medical license, and 1 in 97 attorneys loses his or her law license, but only 1 teacher in 2500 has ever lost his or her credentials.”

The post then goes on to give very different statistics:

In reality, only 121 doctors lost their licenses in Illinois in 2009, out of 43,670 physicians, rather than 1 in 57, as the movie claims. That means an average of 0.3% of doctors per year lost their licenses; or 3 out 1,000 per year – about one tenth of the figure claimed in the film.

Over the last five years, the number of Illinois doctors who have lost their licenses annually ranged from 173 to 99 each year, so the rate has not varied much over time. Similarly, 161 physicians in New York State lost their medical licenses in 2009, out of 64,818; about 0.2%, or 2 out of 1,000 per year – an even smaller figure.

It is a short interesting read. Read with a critical eye. However, it probably presents a much more balanced and accurate picture of what really happens. More educators are “exited” from the educational field then doctors, lawyers.