Mickey Mouse and Statistics

Yesterday in class left me thinking of the phrase “there is strength in numbers” and I found myself interpreting it in multiple ways.

I first thought of it in terms of “trustworthiness” and the class discussion’s focus on statistics and their relevance and reliability in The Big Short. Many people in the room said that they find sources which give numbers to give the appearance of being more reliable. Having statistics put in front of them makes them more likely to believe the assertions made. I remember in my high school statistics class learning about all the variations of bias in a study and how statisticians can make a lot of money skewing facts. This reminded me of the Mark Twain quote, which he attributed to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” As a reader, I’ve found that because I don’t have enough prior knowledge on the subject, I tend to trust his arguments, even if in the back of my mind I know that he could be presenting certain statistics to give a certain picture of the Housing Crisis, not unlike the giant Wall Street Corporations he is writing about.

The concept of “strength in numbers” also came to mind when we were watching the clip from Fantasia. Mickey believes that he has solved his problems when he cuts the broomstick with the axe. Unfortunately for him, all of the splinters of the broomstick come alive and form new broomsticks; all of whom continue to fill water and dump it, creating a flood. As just one mouse (I was going to say person but that wouldn’t work here), Mickey is powerless against the hundreds of broomsticks. When relating this to what we’ve been reading and discussing in class, I thought about how the people who profited off of the Housing Crisis were a minority in our society, yet the masses did not prevail and continued to lose money, property, dignity, etc. This is unlike what one would expect if they truly believed in “strength in numbers.” I would attribute this probably to a lack of comprehension of dense financial jargon, which in turn relates to Alpha’s question that he posed in the beginning of class on Friday.

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