Carl Bialik asks,
apropos the Live Earth estimates of 2 billion viewers: "Is it OK to cite
questionable estimates in service to a good cause?" The answer, of course,
is no. But especially not when the issue is one where the entire moral
high ground is predicated on your having more accurate and reliable numbers
than the other guy.
The problem is that these numbers have been customarily exaggerated for years,
and that if Live Earth had come out with a more credible number, people would
have mentally compared it unfavorably to the 1 billion people they think watch
the Oscars every year. But still, "everybody else does it" is always
the weakest excuse. Better not to release numbers at all than to release numbers
which are ridiculous on their face.