The Public Interest

The perils of provocative statistics

James P. Scanlan

Winter 1991

FEMALE-HEADED families comprise a larger proportion of the poor than they did the preceding year; the observer concludes that female-headed families are worse off. Blacks consistently make up the overwhelming majority of freshmen disqualified from participation in intercollegiate athletics by Proposition 48, the academic requirement introduced by the National Collegiate Athletic Association to determine which freshman athletes will be eligible; the observer concludes that the NCAA’s policy has a severely disproportionate impact on blacks.  The ratio of the black infant-mortality rate to the white infant mortality rate increases; the observer concludes that the health of black infants has declined.

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