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Through the looking glass

It may seem "obvious" that a disparity [in employment statistics] demonstrates discrimination; but on closer examination, the discrimination may turn out to be exactly where you didn't expect to find it.

I think the most interesting thing I found in Chapters 4 and 5 of It Ain't Necessarily So was the explanation of how employers can end up discriminating against blacks and other minorities who apply for lower-level jobs simply by hiring more people from such groups for upper-level positions.

It's an excellent example of the two-sidedness of statistics that the authors describe. Unfortunately, as they note, many newspapers fail to recognize and properly report this two-sidedness, instead choosing to favor one view of the glass or the other -- that is, half-empty, or half-full.


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