How do you break with average statistics?

After seeing a few population percentages being thrown around in Great Debates, I realized that my view of the world does not seem to match with the averages a lot of people taught. For example:

The Divorce Rate. Supposedlym 50% of all marriages have ended in divorce, but out of the hundreds of people who have been married that I could name, only a handful have been divorced. In my world view, it’s ten percent, tops.

Homosexuality. Supposedly, 10% of the world is gay. Although I know there are even a lot of members of the gay community that think this number is too high. But for the sake of the thread, let’s say it’s accurate. For me, I only have a few gay friends, co-workers and aquiantences. And none of my extended family (including aunts, uncles and cousins) is gay (or if they are, they’re not out). In my world view, it’s low single digits, percentagewise.

Lefthandedness. Again, supposedly 10% of the world are lefties. But offhand I can name a couple dozen lefties I personally know. For me, it’s 20%, minimum.

So where do you break with the average statistics of the world? What number surprises you and makes you think, that can’t be right?

I think some are too low, and some are too high.

I think a lot more people are addicted to illegal drugs than the statistics say. To be honest, I don’t know what the stats say on illegal drug use, but whatever it is, the estimate is too low.

As for homosexuality, I’d say it’s between 5% and 10%.

I heard a psychologist on the radio say 1 out of 3 people are more-or-less crazy. I think that’s too high of an estimate. But then again, I don’t interact with “regular” people much; I’m surrounded by engineers all day. So maybe he was right.

You are way off base with divorce statistics. The numbers suggest that most people will divorce at some point but maybe their second or third marriage will last. I come from the rural South and most people I know have been divorced. Don’t think that is a regional thing, I have lived in the Boston area for 11 years and divorces come and go like January snowflakes. I am very surprised when I hear a couple has been together for 20+ years. Most of those have survived an affair or two or they are unhappily married. We are talking about upper middle class to multi-millionaires here. I started a thread on this once. Dopers guessed that the general chance for a successful marriage was between 40% and 20%. It is quite bleak.

The idea that 10% of people are homosexual is political crap. If you go to San Fransisco or New Orleans, it may seem to be true. Current research indicates that about 1-2% of women are lesbians and about 3 - 5% of males are gay. They tend to cluster so someone in one area may see things completely differently than someone in a different area. The following is not a cliche. Gay people have been some of the most important people to me and my family since I was 18. There is no way they would ever say 10% of the population is gay although you find gay people all over the place. I have known closely high ranking military officers and famous news anchors that were that you never would expect.

You’re an engineer? Hmm. So about that craziness he was talking about…

On the divorce rate: Isn’t it possible that you just don’t know that certain people have been divorced?

I’m thinking of a couple of relatives of mine. Both women were married for a short time in their twenties. There were no kids. They went on to 30+ year marriages with kids. No second divorces. In one case, the early marriage was deliberately concealed, as her mother-in-law-to-be would have had a major freak-out over it. In the other case, it’s not a secret, but barely ever gets mentioned because there’s no reason to mention it. (and it was over 50 years ago anyway!)

One thing to recall about the divorce rate is that it is applied to marriages, not people.

Every time one person divorces (again) and remarries (again), one other person is “off the hook” and does not “need” to get a divorce. Heck, just Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor probably let one small town go divorce free for years.
I know a couple of people who are working their way through fifth or sixth marriages while I know a lot of people who are still married to their first spouse of 20 or 30 or 50 years.


There are vast swaths of Baltimore, Philly, and DC, as well as the rest of the country, that are unemployed and are not counted as such. Data is collected, analysed and presented in a manner that is useful for policy models but has no bearing on the real world.

I put the real number about 3 - 3.5% higher. Some wingnuts put it much higher than that.

Never married, probably never will.
1.2 on the Kinsey scale, so… straight.

If I’m not mistaken, that divorce statistic counts second and subsequent marriages, so less than half of the population will have divorced unless a lot of people are remarrying after a spouse’s death.

Anecdotes /= data but in my family out of 18 marriages, 9 have ended in divorce, 1 has ended in death, and 8 are still chugging along.

On edit, tomndebb beat me to it.

The thing is, the 50% statistic is not 50% of everyone - a lot of factors influence it. For example, only 25% of couples that married after age 25 divorced within 10 years whereas 48% of couples that married under age 18 did. That’s averaging all races, earning levels, educations, status of employment, religion, geographic location, cohabitation/nonchabitation, etc. Within each of these subgroups there are also statistical variations, such that certain subcategories have very high rates of divorce and others have very low rates of divorce. If the people you know fit into a low-divorce cluster, than your observation that far less than 50% of the people you know are divorce may well be accurate.

CDC report on marriage and divorce: