Tax day seems like an opportune time to talk about the lie of statistics. Actually, this is more the lie of newspaper headlines than statistics, but it's interrelated.
A week or so ago a small blurb in the Baltimore Sun's nearly non-existent business page proclaimed "Gas Prices up 6%". Reading the blurb, it said gas prices are predicted to be up 6% for this summer. A reader who stopped there might think that the current prices hovering around $4/gallon are going up another 6% as we hit the summer.
But further reading shows that gas prices being up 6% is referring to comparison with last summer. In fact, the price at many stations in the Baltimore area is already more than 6% over last summer's prices, which means that gas prices are actually going to go down as the summer arrives, as 6% over last year is $3.94/gallon.
Even in an inconsequential blurb like this, newspaper headline writers can't help but make a headline as dire as possible, regardless of the actual content of the story contradicting the headline.
Ah, well. This is a fine example why one should read critically. Reading critically doesn't mean disagreeing with what's written. Reading critically means thinking about what's written and whether it comports with facts. A skill set that's hard to come by and the lack of which is a cornerstone of political and media success, regardless of stripe.