Daily Archives: December 16, 2021

The Five Percent Absolution

Gov. Phil Scott grabbed the headlines Tuesday with his pronouncement that only 5% of adult Vermonters are unvaccinated. It was a surprisingly small number, suggesting that the vax-averse are nothing but a tiny minority of cranks. It served to amplify Scott’s sterner-than-usual call for all eligible persons to get their shots. He rebuffed the notion of a mask mandate by saying the 95% who’ve done the right thing shouldn’t be hemmed in because of that small number of holdouts.

But what does it mean, really? A hell of a lot less than it appears. It was the latest in the Scott administration’s flood of misleading statistics. (I sometimes think his Selective Statistics Team is bigger than his Covid Policy Team.) And our news media deserves zero credit for regurgitating the number without a thought.

WCACX-TV went even further, helpfully exaggerating the number in its headline “Scott says 5% of unvaccinated Vermonters are ‘the problem.'” It’s not unvaccinated Vermonters, it’s unvaccinated adult Vermonters. (The accompanying story got that crucial detail right.)

Let’s explore the other limitations on this shiny new statistic, shall we?

Continue reading