The Fallacy of information omission

Folks, some of you are posting links to stories on websites that assert that 95 million Americans over the age of 16 are not in the labor force i.e. they are not working. This is being used as information with which to claim that the US unemployment rate is far higher than the claimed figure.
Now, like most people who didn’t come down from the hillside with the last rainstorm, I know that unemployment numbers are not aligned with practical reality. I have written about this in the past.
However, the “95 million not working” claim is an example of a fallacious assertion, in that it (deliberately in my opinion on many websites) omits crucial information and analysis. A less polite summary would be that it is BS.
Politico analyzed the claimed number a few years ago when it was around 90 million. Their analysis shows how the real number of people who should be working but are not is a whole lot less than 95 million.
I would also note that the websites trumpeting this finding fall into two groups:
1. Headline clickbait sites run by popular media outlets (including the tabloid newspapers)
2. Fringe authoritarian sites specializing in bullshit stories about the Democratic party, including all manner of conspiracy theories and general all-purpose nonsense (World Net Daily being a good example)
There are no serious, analytical web sites pushing this story, for the simple reason that once you strip away the hyperbole, there aren’t 95 million people sitting on their hands doing nothing. That headline number, quite simply, does not pass any sense check or smell test. If there really were 95 million employable people in the USA unable to find work, we would have seen riots in the streets and towns a long long time ago.
If you fasten on to big numbers just because they match your preconceptions, and don’t bother to ask “how is that number comprised”, you are guilty of engaging in confirmation bias, and quite frankly, you deserve to be duped. Some of you need to wake up and engage your critical thinking skills.


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