US Broadband Statistics Prove that Statistics Can Mean Anything

Saul Hansell in the New York Times Bits blog managed to pull a rabbit out of a hat. Well, actually, he managed to do what just about anyone can do when it comes to massaging statistics and reports and numbers, (case in point the global economy), he managed to create a conclusion that may or may not be backed up by the facts.

For some time now we’ve been hearing that US Broadband penetration lags behind other developed countries. According to one of the reports that Mr.. Hansell used for his column we’re actually number 1. Of course context is everything. He uses Leonard Waverman’s Connectivity Scorecard to rate us number 1. But as he goes on to state in his article, this doesn’t measure what the quantity and quality of available broadband, but how a country uses what it has. In essence because, according to the study, we have a skilled workforce that can take advantage of the technology available we rate higher. Which if you stop and think about it for a second, and if you agree with some of the premises only makes sense. Let’s see we have a larger population, and we have more urban centers with more employees, where broadband is available. You do the math.

It is sort of like saying we have the best financial system of any country simply because we have the best and most trained financial experts. We all know how that worked out.

I can’t factually dispute the findings and I’ll leave that to others. But I can argue with that the conclusions are a not quite the same when you read the actual studies for context.