Friday, July 11, 2014

Appeal to Averages

I recently encountered the most bizarre appeal to authority. Someone actually rested his case for a U.S. domestic policy issue on what the “average global citizen” thinks about the issue. While the argument is fallacious on its face, I admit, I’m curious to meet this representative citizen of the world. What is he like?

First of all, he is male (1.014 males / 1.0 females as of 2014). He expects to live to the ripe old age of 66 (global male life expectancy 2014), the age at which the average American expects to retire. Average Global will die 16 years earlier than Average American, who is female and enjoys a life expectancy of 82. Both enjoy a similar death rate, however (around 8 / 1,000), but Average American (who will birth 2 children) is looking forward to facing an infant mortality rate of 6.17 / 1,000 compared to Average Global’s 2.5 kids, who will have to deal with a rate of 37 / 1,000.

Average Global probably thinks the Average American’s 2013 opinion that the minimum wage should be raised to $9 per hour is completely nuts, since he makes just $5 per hour (global median income for 2014 is $10,000). Average American is completely out of touch with Average Global, what with her being a part of the global 1% with her income of $51,000 (2012 median American income). She also enjoys the benefits of a per capita GDP 4 x Average Global’s $13,100 (2013).

Since we’re looking to assess public policy, we should consider how educated Average Global is compared to Average American. Average Global will spend 12 years in school compared to Average American’s 17 years. He will be 80% literate, while she will be 99% literate. Average American can communicate and learn about the world by using the 1.5 phones and 80% rate of internet use at her disposal. Average Global- well, he’s lucky to have 1.2 phones available, but he’s pretty much in the dark when it comes to the internet (30% rate of internet use.)

All in all, things don’t look too good for our Average Global Citizen. While he may deserve our consideration, respect, and sympathy, the weight we should give to his opinion when it comes to U.S. domestic policy is, on average, exactly zero.

With average affection,

S. Misanthrope

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