Tag Archives: statistics

More People Are Dying Than Ever Before!: Facts Need Context

It always bugs me when facts are presented without the appropriate context. One of the worst offenders is when today’s numbers of a set population are compared to previous numbers in history. For example, an often repeated fact during the current National Human Trafficking Awareness Month and today’s National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is that there are more slaves today than at any time in history.

That’s true. But it shouldn’t be shocking. There are also more people today than at any time in history, by an order of magnitude. Which makes stats like this deceiving. A straight numbers comparison doesn’t give you a clear picture of what’s really happening. Slavery as a percentage of the total population could also be at the lowest point in history.

The shock and awe of the fact doesn’t stem from the injustice of slavery, it stems from population growth. More people means more slaves. A lower percentage than ever, but a higher total number than ever. It’s kind of like arguing that more people die in car accidents today than in any time in human history, so we really need to care about car accidents. That might be true (I can’t find the numbers to back it up), but if it is, it’s only because there are more people driving cars now than ever before so there’s likely going to be more deaths than ever before.

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