Honesty in Advertising? March 9, 2011

Honesty in Advertising?

No one’s advocating vandalism against billboards, but this particular example on a Christian billboard in New York City puts things into perspective…

The 50,000 number refers to “the estimated number of people who attended the last Prayer in the Square [In Times Square] in September, 2009.”

(via Mad Art Lab — a really excellent new blog)

***Update***: I put this up a bit too hastily and didn’t even crunch the number. If 50,000 is supposed to be 0.125% of New Yorkers, then the graffiti artist is saying there are 40,000,000 New Yorkers. Way too high.


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  • mihoda

    Fail math.

    % = number in group / total
    total = number in group / %
    total = 50,000 / 0.00125 = 40 million new yorkers?

    WTF

  • Samizdat

    IS it possibly referring to the number of religious residents in new york – as opposed to the 50,000 religious and possibly non religious residents and presumably non residents who attended the last event…?

  • Smedrick

    mihoda, that’s assuming all 50,000 were New Yorkers.

  • Assuming they mean New York City, then that’s 8 million people, which would be:
    50 000 / 8 000 000 = 0.00625 or 0.625%

    Assuming they mean New York State, the 2010 census figure is 19,378,102 people, which would be:

    50 000 / 19 378 102 = 0.00258023206 or 0.258 %

    Either of which is higher than their figure, but still so low as to get the point across.

  • Samizdat

    Hmm. Research conducted. Nope, about 56% of New Yorkers are religious, as far as I can see. Fail math indeed.

  • mihoda

    I’m inclined to believe they used the NY MSA (~19 million), rounded it to 20 million, and missed a factor of 2 in their calculations.

    They probably did it in their head.

  • @mihoda:

    Well, if you go New York Metro area (~20 million), it’s actually about %0.25, and by New York City area (~10 million) it’s about %0.5.

  • Stephen

    According to Wikipedia, the 2010 US Census figures for New York City was just under 8.4 million. 50000/8.4 million = @.006%

  • MP

    While I agree with not “advocating vandalism” – it is pretty much a time-honored tradition that all NYC subway posters and ads are immediately modified or defaced. I have come to think of it almost like comments on a blog. In fact, I would consider any ad in the subway a failure if it attracted no “modifications” at all – which would only mean it was so uninteresting that no one even noticed it.

  • Dan

    I assume the person just picked an arbitrary percentage to make a point that 50,000 is low when compared to the full amount of people in New York City or State no matter how you look at it.

  • Alexis

    More truth in advertising. I went to their web page. When I scrolled down I saw that they have a slide show. It was telling me that I’d seen all the photos (I hadn’t because they all had been shown before I scrolled down), would I like to see them again? So I clicked ‘Yes’. There is only one picture in the slide show!

  • @Samizdat:

    Read what’s directly under the picture.

  • I would like to hereby advocate vandalism if you can make it this awesome.

    (Of course, people should be careful about over-estimating the awesomeness of their vandalism.)

  • WishinItWas

    I take the 1 Train to/from work every day in NYC and see this poster a lot. One that brought out the Jr high in me had(I will be polite) a giant male phallic symbol drawn right above the “its time to pray”.

    I giggled to myself trying to avoid the stares of the morning commuters.

  • trojanpride69

    This is a great post! Certainly the number is off, but the point comes across well. The fail is the campaign’s promoters. The number is a very small percentage of the overall population of New York City.

  • Wow, I’m glad I found your site. I’m sure my husband has at some time. Our family used to be Charismatic, Evangelicals (for years) raised our two daughters (16 and 19) that way and 6 years ago, left our faith and went our separate ways, meaning my 16yr old and my husband are die hard atheists, I’m more of an agnostic/humanist and my 19yr (is blond and let’s just say she doesn’t believe but she tells us she’s hedging her bets, see blond. We belong to the Unitarian Church and live in VA, can you imagine??? We celebrate Confederacy month here (I could stab myself with a knitting needle). So, I’ll be reading you know.

  • Emanuel Goldsein

    Uh, its funny how atheists scream if one of their billboards is vandalized, but make excuses if a Christian one is.

    And Hermann, why do you keep calling yourself “The Friendly Atheist”?

    You have already admitted the name doesn’t fit.

    So, quit lying, sport.

    O.K.?

  • Ally

    I think the proper course of action is for someone to correct the math figure using the black sharpie so as to make it look like there was no mistake. I think vandalism has a time and place and that time and place is re-framing Christian billboards accurately. The only thing wrong is a math confusion.

  • Barrett

    It’s funny the math teacher didn’t catch the math error.

  • I think it’s a subtle social critique suggesting that the time these 50,000 people would spend praying should be spent lobbying for more math and science instruction in public schools.

  • Nordog

    I think it’s a subtle social critique suggesting that the time these 50,000 people would spend praying should be spent lobbying for more math and science instruction in public schools.

    I think it’s a subtle social critique suggesting that the time the vandal spent tagging billboards should have been spent receiving more math and science instruction in public schools.

  • Sir Craig

    Thanks, Kev, for once more proving it isn’t the atheists that have issues with the truth. Goldstein would do himself a greater favor if he actually knew what he was talking about instead of the usual knee-jerk reactionary statements I’ve gotten to know from our myth-driven brethren.

  • Michael D

    Course that’s still many times better then the kind of errors encountered in creationist math.

  • Someone should write under it
    “You idiot, it’s 0.6%.
    Learn2Math”

  • gwen

    The last word is also misspelled. It should read ‘prey’.

  • P.

    Mr. Mehta, not crunching the numbers? So this gives me a free pass out of doing my math homework this weekend, right?

  • According to official figures it is still only 0.6% of the New York population!

  • Atheism cures fanatic tererisim.
    FAITH and Truth are not compatible. FAITH is belief in something for which there is no proof.
    It seems to me that faith is the driving force in all religions. Most of us are exposed to the faith of those we know, nearly every day. We are as diverse in the number of religious faiths as anywhere else in the world. The founding fathers put a great deal of thought and discussion into the writing of our constitution. Their education and exposure to religion was such that they almost all agreed that there was a supernatural God that created the universe and the human race. Many of them probably didn’t really see Native Americans and Negro’s as humans. Manifest Destiny was considered by many of our leaders as Gods blessing when they stole land from the Native Americans and the Mexicans. The history and fighting among the religious faiths of the time could not have been known with the degree of understanding that is available today. Most probably had not read of the killing between Catholics and the various Protestant faiths. They couldn’t have known the extent to which the Crusades affected the Christian and Muslim faiths. They, and most of the western world knew very little about Muslims.

    This country has grown as a Christian nation. The bible has, and still is, used in about every public ceremony we conduct. Nearly all governmental swearing-ins uses a bible as the testament of truth. We see the bible in the funeral services conducted by nearly all the fraternal organizations. I believe it will be a long time before things change, but I do believe they will change.
    Science has provided us with provable examples of creation of the universe and all living things. The Big Bang and evolution should be part of every ones education. When mankind finally accepts the fact that there is no supernatural, loving God out there who has control of everything, we will have to take another look at the religious texts.
    In this 21st century we will need to rely on logic and reason and be more willing to question FAITH.
    Faith is so powerful that it makes men willing to die. The faithful have been killing one another for over two thousand years. The faithful on both sides in our Civil War thought God was on their side. Not very logical. The faithful Japanese committed Hari-Kari,and provided the kamakazi pilots of WWII, through faith. Not very logical. The Muslims are blowing themselves up through faith. Not logical. Opposing sports teams pray for a win and for the safety of their players. I’m sure it makes them feel good, but both can’t win and injuries do happen. Not logical.
    The religions of the Mayans and Aztecs, and every one living in what we now call the Western Hemisphere, were not aware of the supernatural God of Christians. Not logical for a supernatural God.
    I think we have a chance to see a much more peaceful world and a much more prosperous world when the prejudices of the faithful is gone. I hope to see the day when all nations are truly respectful of one another and cooperate in each others interests.