The MyTwoCensus team is as familiar with Baywatch as anyone else, but today’s U.S. Census Bureau Daily Feature, a quotidian PR blurb blasted out by the Census Bureau (presumably nobody reads it except us…) was distasteful at best and statistically inaccurate at worst. Here’s the press release:
THURSDAY, APRIL 23: “BAYWATCH” AT 20
Profile America — Thursday, April 23rd. It may be hard to believe, but the television show “Baywatch” was first aired 20 years ago today. The program, set on a California beach for its first 10 years, and for its final two years in Hawaii, centered around a group of lifeguards, featuring David Hasselhoff and a cast of good-looking young men and women. “Baywatch” became a very popular show, especially overseas, and it is estimated that more than a billion people in 142 countries saw the program each week. The plots had the lifeguards deal with earthquakes, shark attacks, and even serial killers. Most lifeguards concentrate on saving people in trouble in the water. In the U.S., some 3,600 people drown each year. You can find these and more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at www.census.gov.
As enlightening as it is to learn that 3,600 people drown every year, why is the Census Bureau using this morbid statistic to direct traffic to their homepage? It is very difficult to find drowning statistics when one reaches the Bureau’s home page, even after using the search function. When we were finally able to obtain drowning data, we learned that the statistic that 3,600 people drown every year in America is wrong. The 2009 Statistical Abstract of the United States indicates that in 2004-2005 (here’s a large PDF with the data), the last years that this data is available, 3,308 people died by drowning. Thank you Census Bureau for keeping your statistics inaccurate and using Baywatch-related fear tactics to encourage 2010 Census Participation…