Numbers alone don't explain trend lines

December 30, 1997|By Kim C. Derrickson

THE SUN's DEC. 23 editorial, "Spotlight on city's Convention Center," initially is upbeat and positively portrays the expanded facility. Unfortunately, it quickly degenerates and illogically argues for the necessity of a convention hotel.

While the city's need for a convention hotel may be well founded, the evidence offered to support your contention -- a drop-off in hotel bookings in future years -- is not logical.

The nicely presented bar chart may instill unfounded worry in people unfamiliar with critically interpreting figures.

A drop in the number of bookings in future years is a normal occurrence for any facility. It is the rate of acquiring future bookings that is central to your argument, not the total number of bookings already committed for future years.

Without additional information about the previous, normal rate of yearly accumulations of bookings, the chart tells us absolutely nothing about the eventual number of future bookings.

Future hotel bookings may be behind schedule and thus lend validity to your concerns. Or they may be well above historical trends, showing the Convention Center is prospering even without an accompanying hotel.

The chart in the editorial does not allow us to distinguish between these diametrically opposite possibilities.


Pub Date: 12/30/97

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