Bill O’Reilly’s Party Math

I was watching the O’Reilly Factor last night and he had a segment related to a study of teen alcohol and drug use during parties hosted by parents. The study, or perhaps it was just a poll, showed that 28 percent of teens reported that they had been to a party where drugs and alcohol were available and the parents were home, and yet only one percent of parents admitted to hosting a party for their teens where drugs and alcohol were present.

Bill was quite shocked–clearly, he said, either the parents or the children are lying! How could there be such a descrepancy?? The whole segment was devoted to this issue. How could he and his entire staff not figure out that if 28 percent of teens have attended a party with drugs, alcohol, and parents, and 1 percent of parents hosted parties with teens, drugs, and alcohol, then the average teen/drug/alcohol/parent party included 28 teens!

I assume this is clear to everyone reading this blog, but hey, O’Reilly put together a whole segment without figuring it out, so let’s be clear:

  • A high school has 100 students that are part of this study.
  • Each student has a single parent that took part in the study.
    It works fine if you say two parents or a mixture, but it’s a little more complicated.
  • Some number of parents throw parties for their kid and his friends, but only one parent allows drugs and alcohol.
  • If that parent’s kid invites 27 of his friends to the party, 28/100 students have attended a parent/drug/alcohol party, but only 1/100 parents have hosted one.

Seems fairly obvious to me.

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