Critical Thinking for Homeland Security
Written Assignment 5
By Gabriel A. Godart
Thomas Edison State College.
H.G. Wells noted that statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient
citizenship as the ability to read and write. Indeed, statistics offer information from a new
perspective, and most people do not have sufficient statistical knowledge to analyze the
information presented in the form of graphs, tables or pie charts. Another fact is that people place
a lot more trust in numbers over words as they are more explicit. Based on these factors,
statisticians became very talented in the art of manipulating the information by re-arranging their
results in order to demonstrate and prove their arguments.
In the following discussion, we will
examine graphical statistics representing the number of non-natural deaths and their causes. We
will determine whether or not the information is presented correctly and we will point out any
statistical fallacies and misinterpretations if any.
The material presented to us is a series of data, tables, and graphs supposedly related to
one another and created by the US Department of State to demonstrate and quantify the number
of non-natural deaths abroad and their causes. At first sight it is not quite evident that these
numbers are, in fact, related to the number of American deaths abroad. Therefore, if the reader
does not verify the sources of these data, it could be quite confusing and the analysis quite
Looking at the first set of data provided, which states the period covered in the analysis,
the total number of countries and foreign possessions, and the total number of non-natural
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