Yesterday at the Building Learning Communities conference, one of the speakers offered up an interesting statistic.
75% of college graduates never read another book in their lifetime.
That’s an incredible statement, although it must be true since he put it on a slide projected on a big screen in front of nearly a thousand people.
Anyway, it’s also the kind of number that just didn’t sit well with my crap detector.
A little bit of Googling turned up similar statements (like the one in this collection of book stats) with different (smaller) numbers.
And the speaker did qualify his statement with something about that 75% including people who started reading books but never completed them.
Still, three quarters of the college educated population not reading even one book after graduation strikes me as awfully high.
Did the researchers include audio books? Books parents read to their kids? Graphic novels?*
As with the results of so many polls, surveys, and studies, you really can’t understand the results without knowing the source and the method used to assemble the numbers.
However, we have a large part of the population in the US (and possibly elsewhere in the world) who often accept the statistical numbers handed to them almost daily as fact.
Unless, of course, they come into major conflict with their own beliefs. And even then, they don’t question the numbers as much as they outright reject them.
Wherever the 75% number came from (and I have no doubt some pollster somewhere did get it), it’s just one more example of why we need to do a better job of teaching students to understand probability and statistics before they become adults.
After all, they need to know that 67% percent of all statistics are simply made up. Right? :-)
[The picture is of some books from my bookshelf. And yes I’ve read them all since college. Well… except for Harry Potter #7.]
*Don’t laugh, some of them have very complex stories!