Why Live Earth Shouldn’t Count Its Viewers

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.

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