Thursday, December 31, 2009

Come Again?

Women made up almost half of those honored in the U.K. New Year's Honour's list, the British Telegraph tells us. Which is nice, of course, given that the percentage of women used to be pretty dismal. But here's the odd thing about the piece:

Women now make up almost half of those honoured in today's New Year's Honours list following a Whitehall push to make the awards more representative.

More than 45 per cent of those honoured today are women, compared to 39 per cent last year and less than thirty per cent in the 1990s. The increase has led to an additional 63 women being honoured in this year's list.

If the current trend continues, women will make up the bulk of the list by the time of the 2011 New Year's Honours List.

How could women make up the bulk of the list in only two more years if the push to include more women was based on the desire to make the list more representative? Makes no sense at all, unless almost all British people are women.

That last paragraph is also a good example of the common error of extrapolating from an increasing trend by simply assuming that it will continue in the same direction until it reaches the maximum value possible.