Right Question

Asking the right question is usually more productive than trying to prove the right answer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Putting Numbers in Perspective

In the era of trillion-dollar debts and million-man marches, sometimes big numbers can lose meaning in the absence of context.

I was elated yesterday at the unbelievably large crowds -- over a million people -- supporting democracy in Beiruit. Today, Arthur Chrenkoff puts this number into its proper context:
First off, we've had the Hizbollah, pro-Syrian, pro-government rally, which according to various estimates attracted somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million people to the center of Beirut.
Now, we have an opposition, anti-Syrian, anti-Government rally, with anywhere between 800,000 and 1.3 million people in the streets.
Lebanon's total population is 3.7 million.
And in the U.S. we were proud when 60% of our population managed to vote!

This also adds context to protesor Marwan Kayrouz's response to a reporter's concerns about possible civil war with: "Who is going to fight who? All the factions are here." (via GlennReynolds.com)

I had taken that to mean "All the factions are represented here." Perhaps he meant it literally.


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