THE POWERS OF DEDUCTION

Posted in Rants on July 29th, 2010 by Ed

Deep underneath 1 Murdoch Place, the council of stroke victims who conduct quantitative analysis for Fox News celebrated yesterday when they discovered a way to rationalize how SB 1070 is actually helping Arizona tourism. Oh, it doesn't make any sense, but it's more than good enough for the parade of the lame, the halt, and the ugly who make up the network's viewers.

In "Arizona Hotels Thriving Despite Boycotts Over Immigration Law," Fox peddles its usual special brand of decontextualized statistics and disastrously poor logic. They want their readers to be unduly impressed with the statistic that, "hotel occupancy was up 5.7 percent in May and up 8.3 percent in June compared with the same time a year ago. That sounds great! Almost 10%! Take that, you stupid Messicuns! It seems impressive until you realize that last year was the worst year for tourism in Arizona since the 1970s. In the depths of the recession, no one traveled last summer. That seems logical enough. This year things are still lousy but there is a little bit of a rebound. Makes sense too. 8%. Good for you, Arizona tourism industry.

Let's say a baseball player reliably hits about 35 home runs every season for 15 years. The next year, being old and broken down, he hits only 12. He insists on playing one more season and manages to hit 20. Would you look at that and say:

A) "His home run total increased 40%!!! He's immune to the effects of age!"
B) "That season where he hit 12 was so lousy he couldn't help but do better this year, albeit still considerably below his career average."

If you chose A, congratulations! You are a Fox News SuperViewer. Go back to reading Glenn Beck's Common Sense and buying the criminally overpriced gold he's paid to tell you to buy. If you chose B, stick around for the next part. Congratulations on figuring out that a small rebound from a historically low number means exactly nothing.

With some Arizona tourism professionals offering anecdotal evidence that the Governor's scare tactics are convincing tourists that the state is Beyond Thunderdome, it is plausible that the hotel business would be up much more than 8% without the law, the boycotts, and the posturing of ignorant elected officials. (By the way, is there a more selfish politician in America than Jan Brewer? Her state survives on tourism and she's on TV telling A) Latinos to fuck themselves, which is odd because I think Latinos go on vacations and B) everyone else that "headless corpses" are turning up in the state courtesy of the armies of violent drug mules invading the state? Who cares, right, as long as Jan scares enough white retirees into re-electing her!)

The second problem, one that would be apparent to anyone who…I don't know, thinks about stuff, is that the tourism industry runs in long cycles. The law wouldn't be expected to result in canceled conventions this year because that's simply not how the convention industry works. My professional association, the American Political Science Association, schedules its massive 10,000 attendee conferences six years in advance. APSA 2016 is already confirmed for Philadelphia. The blow to Arizona's convention and tourism industry will come when the convention business it is losing today comes to pass. How many groups and trade associations are making plans right now and concluding that Arizona just isn't worth the headache? No one can answer that question, of course, but those of us outside the Fox News audience are at least sentient enough to ask it. Kinda puts that 8% increase and the relationship between SB 1070 and tourism in a new light, though.