On Statistics


Statistics don’t always tell the whole story… It’s so difficult to gather information on health on developing and underdeveloped countries.. but what are we to do?

I remember reading up on FGC (female genital cutting/circumcision aka female genital  mutilation) and the stats for Sierra Leone seemed high (85% or something like that) …it was a gut feeling comeing moreso out of anecdotal evidence/experiences than anything else.  I have some S-Leonean fam that work in Development and a cousin whose aim is medical research on illnesses that are prevalent in our home country, and when I talked to them about it, my their sentiments echoed my own.  One of my aunts said think about it this way, “Who had time to do FGM when rebels were running around cutting off limbs?”  The stats don’t reflect the dip in such activities brought on by the instability of being a war torn and now regrouping/rehabilitating country.  

Besides, that, the way that information is gathered is so iffy at times, and overall a difficult process, especially when you have to reach very poor,  rural regions (I guess this would go for any country though).  So it’s not surprising.  Population sampling is not always correct.  So then I question is how, who, and why is statistical information sampled?  


I do believe that the “pure” or “physical sciences” can at times be infiltrated by subjectivity which in turn affects the final product.   There are scientists who believe in intelligent design and their work reflects that and vice versa.  Then there was the WHO’s estimation of people with AIDS in Africa decreased a few yearsback because they had (greatly) overestimated the number of people infected on the continent.  

Don’t get me wrong, AIDS is a serious disease, that has had devastating effects in many parts of the world, 

Africa included.  And the health risks associated with FGC are also to be taken seriously.


But you know what?  I want some reliable information!  But at the very basic level, all I want is some reliable stats! Eh, maybe I’m just revealing my own biases.

But  I do think that the methodology and aims of some the orgs putting out stats should always be scrutinized.


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