Sunday, 8 September 2013

The Numbers Game.

I have just read an article on the website of the Londonderry Sentinel regarding the attendance figure for the recent All Ireland Music Festval which was held in the city. The total number of people attending the week long hooley is reported as having been approximately 430,000. The BBC has stated that this year's festival has been described by organisers as the biggest ever. One might think that a few pats on backs would be due, but was the event the number success that is being claimed?

A spokesperson for the event's co-ordinating committee has apparently told the Sentinel's reporter that the figure of 430,000 for attendees was calculated by using the spatial capacity of the city centre. If I am correct in my interpretation of this phraseology this is tantamount to saying that the attendance figure for any event equates to the capacity of the venue. So if a band played a sixty thousand seater arena that would necessarily mean that it was playing to a packed audience of screaming fans even if the entire audience decided to forego the pleasure. A rather novel mode of calculation! I cannot imagine that a statistician would be happy with the modus operandi, but then again I am reminded of that well known quotation which Mark Twain wrongly attributed to Disraeli.

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