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Did Politifact Georgia make a mistake? July 22, 2010

Posted by Ken in Uncategorized.
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A recent PolitiFact Georgia “tweet” caught my attention, and after reading the analysis of the statement that “by 12th grade 3 out of ten girls have been pregnant” I drew a different conclusion – here’s my note to the author of the PolitiFact Georgia piece:

Willoughby,

I read with interest (and skepticism) your “half-true” finding of the claim “more than three out of ten girls get pregnant by 12th grade”, and I
feel there is a flaw in your logic, or at least your conclusion.

I was with you on all your research, your assumptions, and interpretations, up until I read your “half-true” conclusion. I can’t reconcile your conclusion with your earlier statement:

“And for girls who are 18, the typical age for a 12th-grader, that figure was about 17 percent, according to that same set of data.”

Now, I’m pretty sure you’d agree that 1.7 out of ten is nearly half as many pregnancies as three out of ten, and I find it hard to believe being off by about 44% is not really that close.

Your conclusion that this is half-true if you change the age to 20 ignores an important aspect of the assertion under examination – “by 12th grade” means BEFORE entering the twelfth grade, not having graduated, so you are checking a statement about teens that have not yet entered their senior year and are not (on average) 18 years old – yet, most likely age 17 or even 16. (there really aren’t that many 18 year olds in high school – certainly not half of all seniors to make it the statistical average) You rounded high school juniors into seniors, upped the age for seniors to 18 from a more reasonable 17, then you rounded again to age 20 to arrive at your half-true conclusion. I think you rounded too far.

Personally, I’d be hard-pressed to see this as anything but wrong – the stats you considered showed 17% of 18 year olds were pregnant atleast once, but a whopping 28% were pregnant atleast once at age 20 – that’s an 11 point (or 40%) increase in those last two years, ages of 19 an 20.

Thanks,

Ken Hansen

I’ll post any response I get here.

PDF of original Politifact Check HERE

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