As the only engineer in history to graduate without taking a course in statistics, I may not be the right guy to apply the old joke about the three types of liars - liars, damned liars, and statisticians.
I mean, we should be basing policy on facts, not fiction.
Unless of course you are our federal government. To paraphrase Stephen Harper: "Yes, crime is down markedly in all areas, so let's build more prisons with the money we would otherwise give as pensions to wounded soldiers!"
The trick is sifting through all the 'statistics' to find the 'real' facts.
Sometimes, the obvious 'facts' are neither obvious nor factual at all. E.g., it is plainly obvious from looking out the window that the earth is flat. Only when you get Chris Hadfield's perspective is that 'fact' perceived to be incorrect.
Right now I'm dealing with a long-standing argument that has just been bolstered by another report supporting what I perceive as the 'opposition' - a US group says advanced driver training, including skid control schools, leads to MORE crashes, not fewer.
So we should not teach people how to get out of potentially dangerous situations, because such training gives people a false sense of confidence and encourages more risky behaviour.
That set of 'facts' does not conform to my personal experience, nor to my preconceived notions.
So either their 'facts' are wrong, or I am wrong.
Perish THAT thought...
To me, the extension of that idea would be: Let's not bother training surgeons to deal with blood vessels that might burst unexpectedly.
Or air line pilots on how to get their planes out of stall situations. It will just encourage them to fly closer to the edge of the envelope.
In fact, maybe we shouldn't bother training pilots at all. If they can pass the written test (in their language of choice; never mind that the aircraft instrumentation and verbal instructions from Air Traffic Control are not given in Swahili or Urdu or whatever) and can manoeuvre the plane out onto the runway from the gate and push the 'GO' button, that should be good enough.
And let's not bother re-training them every six months either. SO expensive!
Sure, once they're 80, we can bring them in for a wee interview (no re-testing; that would be discriminatory...). If it looks like they can still walk and chew gum simultaneously, we'll let them keep flying until they die.
Or we do.
Which brings up another point. A retired RCMP officer appears to be quite exercised these days over the possibility that seniors might actually be required to be re-tested before re-issuance of their driver's licences.
As, may I remind you, used to be the case, in Ontario anyway.
He claims it would discriminate against seniors who, he also claims, still have lower crash numbers than younger drivers.
I am dead-set against discrimination under any circumstances - except when it comes to ability.
When the car you crash into might be mine or that of any of my children, I say “Let's discriminate like hell!''
Let's make sure every driver on our roads is as well-trained and well-evaluated as (s)he can possibly be.
Whether they're 16 or 86.
I have always advocated mandatory re-testing for drivers of all ages, every five years or so.
That's for everybody.
No discrimination there.
What harm could that do? Unless you believe as some do that all training is not only pointless, but dangerous.
Neurosurgery residency? What a waste of human life...
But as I also always say, we have nearly the equivalent of 9/11 every year on our roads in this country.
That is a fact no-one can deny.
When is somebody going to try to do something about that?
The Toronto Auto Show starts this week.
Officially, it's called the 'Canadian International Auto Show', although hardly anybody who doesn't work for the Show organizers calls it that.
It is the biggest show in Canada, in terms of attendance, number of vehicles, and, as far as I know, square meterage.
By 'International' standards, it doesn't rank with the Detroits, Frankfurts, Shanghais or Tokyos of the show circuit.
But it does give residents of the GTA a chance to see all the new cars, trucks, SUVs and Crossovers under one roof.
One roof now that they no longer use SkyDome...
Just the North and South buildings of the Metro Convention Centre, the only buildings I have ever been in where the floor numbers go UP as you go DOWN stairs.
Whether you use the show as a prelude to shopping for a new vehicle, ogle some exotic machinery you'll probably never be able to afford, eyeball hot rods old (Cruise Nationals and Muscle Car Alley) and new (Sport Compact Evolution), or visit the tribute to Ron Fellows, one of Canada's premier race car drivers (not to mention one of the nicest people to ever walk the face of this earth), there's no shortage of things to see and do.
Click on http://www.autoshow.ca for everything else you need to know.