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# Using numbers to persuade. Expressing numbers Read the article 'A nation of addicts glued to the box'. Identify and comment on the statistics used in.

## Presentation on theme: "Using numbers to persuade. Expressing numbers Read the article 'A nation of addicts glued to the box'. Identify and comment on the statistics used in."— Presentation transcript:

Using numbers to persuade

Expressing numbers Read the article 'A nation of addicts glued to the box'. Identify and comment on the statistics used in the article. Identify and comment on the language used to express the statistics in the article.

A nation of addicts glued to the box If television is truly the 'drug of the nation' then it appears that we are cripplingly addicted to it. More than half of us devote more than five hours of each and every day to getting another fix of its transmissions. We waste away 72 days each year in a flurry of nature documentaries, soapy melodrama and live sport. The survey carried out by a national building society also shows that more than a third (35%) of those asked owned two TV sets, just under a quarter (23%) had three and 6% had more than five sets. The most common activity associated with viewing is eating, with more than two-thirds of families now having their meals whilst watching TV. However, perhaps the most disturbing statistic was the indication that one in five believe that without television life would hardly be worth living. The results of the survey disturb Greg Philo of Glasgow Media Group. 'To produce this average... There must be some people watching eight, ten hours a day... If you just sit down in front of the TV you can spend hours where you've not really achieved anything. TV stops us from doing the really good things in life.' Alasdair Reisner

How we persuade Think about the sentence: 'We waste away 72 days each year in a flurry of nature documentaries, soapy melodrama and live sport.' What can you say about the language used?

How we persuade How else could we express '72 days'? What happens if we express it as; – '19% of our time'? – 'less than a fifth of a year'? – Can you think of other ways to express it?

How we persuade What would happen if we expressed it like this: 'We spend less than a fifth of our time using TV for educational, news and entertainment purposes…'? Can you think of another way to express this sentence?

How we persuade Think about the sentence: 'The survey carried out by a national building society also shows that more than a third (35%) of those asked owned two TV sets, just under a quarter (23%) had three and 6% had more than five sets.' Why do you think the author has included this information? What can you say about the language used?

How we persuade What happens to this sentence if we give exactly the same figures in a different way? 'The survey carried out by a national building society showed that almost two-thirds of households had no TV or only one.' What would be the intention of stating the statistic this way?

Changing the tone Rewrite the first two sentences (from 'If television…' to '… its transmissions') to give a positive view of people's TV watching habits.

Using statistics to convey a message As you can see, numbers can be expressed in a variety of ways. How we express numbers can be used to convey a message to the reader or listener. Think about different ways to express numbers for particular purposes.

What's the difference? Factually, there is no difference between o 33% of people think Y o One in three people think Y o Two-thirds of all people think Z o More than three out of ten people think Y o Less than a third of all people think Y However, is there a difference tonally in these expressions?

Maximising and minimising statistics We can make a statistic sound a lot or sound a little depending on how we express it. In your groups, look at the statistics in the following table. How could you express them in a way that seems to you to make them sound: neutral? a lot a little?

PercentageSuggested alternative Make it sound a little Make it sound a lot 10%One-tenth'Only around…''As much as…' 23%'Almost…' 3 in 10 49% 'Almost…' 52% Two-thirds 75% 90% All

PercentageSuggested alternative Make it sound a littleMake it sound a lot 10%One-tenth'Only around…''As much as…' 23%'Not even a quarter…''Almost a quarter…' 30%3 in 10'Less than a third…''As many as one in three…' 49%5 in 10'A minority…' 'Almost a half… ' 52%5 out of 10'Barely half…''A clear majority…' 66%Two-thirds'As many as a third…' [reference to the opposite] 'Two out of every three…' 75%Three-quarters'A significant minority…' [reference to the opposite] 'It's hard to ignore the fact that three quarters…' 90%9 out of 10'Hardly surprising that…' [make it seem too obvious to mean much] 'All but…' 100%All'Of course everyone… but…' [make it seem too obvious to mean much] 'It is unanimous…'

Stating the blooming obvious... How can we minimise and cast doubt on large statistic? We can make it seem so obvious as to be worthless. Think about the following examples: Of course everyone would agree with X: its a bit like agreeing that air is good for you... So what if 100% of the population believe in Y: is what is popular always what it right?

Lies, damned lies and statistics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies,_damned_lies,_and_statistics)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies,_damned_lies,_and_statistics The same statistics can be used for very different purposes, depending on the purpose of the reader or speaker. Look at the following table, which shows how the rate of smoking and the incidence of lung cancer has changed between 1948 and 2009. What conclusions would you draw from these figures?

Source: Cancer Research UK http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerstats/types/lung/smoking/#cancerhttp://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerstats/types/lung/smoking/#cancer

The Clean Air Group The Clean Air Group is a pressure group which campaigns for increased cigarette taxes and more smoke-free zones, with a view to an eventual ban on smoking. Imagine the group has just received this information from Cancer Research UK. Write a brief press release commenting on what the figures reveal.

Free Smokers Now! Free Smokers Now! is a campaign group which advocates personal choice in smoking and the repeal of anti-smoking legislation which limits smokers' rights. Imagine the group has just received this information from Cancer Research UK. Write a brief press release commenting on what the figures reveal.

Migration: pressure groups 1.Hands across Borders: A humanitarian body which promotes sensitivity towards immigrant issues and campaigns for greater freedom to come to the UK. 2.Border Watch: A think-tank which examines migration figures and advises on policy, particularly with a view to implementing stricter immigration controls. Imagine these groups have just received the following information from the UK government. Write a brief press release for each group, commenting on what the figures reveal.

Using statistics yourself: migration Table 1a: Long Term Migration to the UK, 1991-2009 (thousands) Year Inflow Outflow Total 1991 329 285 +44 1992 268 281 -13 1993 266 266 -1 1994 315 238 +77 1995 312 236 +76 1996 318 264 +55 1997 327 279 +48 1998 391 251 +140 1999 454 291 +163 2000 479 321 +158 2001 481 309 +171 2002 516 363 +153 2003 511 363 +148 2004 589 344 +245 2005 567 361 +206 2006 596 398 +198 2007 574 341 +233 2008590 427 +163 2009567 371 +196 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmselect/cmhaff/361/36105.htm

Chart 1a: Long Term Migration to the UK, 1991-2009 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmselect/cmhaff/361/36105.htm

Crime: pressure groups 1.Justice for Victims: A campaign group which advocates longer sentences and increased police powers, and calls for a referendum on the return of capital punishment. 2.Just Society: A campaign group which advocates liberal criminal justice perspectives. Imagine these groups have just received the following information from the UK government. Write a brief press release for each group, commenting on what the figures reveal.

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/rp99/rp99-111.pdf

The environment: pressure groups 1.Heal the Air: A charity which funds clean air campaigns and projects around the world and demands tough anti-pollution legislation. 2.Get Real!: A campaign group which advocates a slow and considered approach to pollution legislation to protect the interests of industry and the economy. Imagine these groups have just received the following information from the UK government. Write a brief press release for each group, commenting on what the figures reveal.

http://www.defra.gov.uk/statistics/files/additional-results-2009-v2.pdf

Self / Peer Evaluation Write down in bullet points how comfortable you feel now about the use of statistics in persuasive writing. You may wish to identify – What you found easy or difficult about these tasks; – What ways you think you can use statistics that you didn't know before; – What questions you would like answered to be able to use statistics more effectively. Submit your bullet points to your teacher / share them with your peers.

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