The annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade lie

Mar 17th, 2011 | By | Category: Ireland

Saint Patrick’s Day brings with it the annual misinformation from our media.  RTE reported that 550,000 attended the Dublin parade; the Irish Times, our supposed newspaper of record reports an estimated 600,000.

Does anyone ever do simple arithmetic?

Let’s pretend that we are all very petite and need no more than 60 centimetres of space in which to stand, and let’s pretend that we are so excited at watching the parade that we are prepared to stand in uniform lines ten people deep – a little difficult in some Dublin streets.

550,000 people would need lines totalling 330,000 metres in length: 550,000 x 0.6 metres.

So, we allow 20 lines of people along the route and divide the 330,000 metres by 20: 330,000/20 = 16500.

To have 550,000 people in lines ten deep on both sides of the road would require 16500 metres of road, 16.5 kilometres.

16.5 kilometres is somewhat further than the distance from Parnell Square to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.  Even if one allowed lines twenty people deep on both sides of the road, never mind that most people would see nothing, the route would still require 8.25 kilometres.

The actual route from the Dublin City Council website is 2.5 kilometres, that’s 2,500 metres for a crowd of 550,000. Allow 60 centimetres per person and they would need to be 66 deep on each side of the road.  It is physically impossible for there to be the numbers claimed by the organisers, yet every year RTE and the newspapers report these as fact.

Another year passes and no-one challenges the numbers.  When our main media outlets are innumerate, is it any wonder that the banks destroyed the economy ?


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  1. Perhaps they were “attending” through the medium of TV.
    Like your rigorous approach. You’d get on well with Ben Goldacre at the Bad Scientist blog – scourge of statistics abusers in government, business and elsewhere.

  2. Thanks for the link.

    A bit more rigour might have saved us from economic disaster and averted the need for tens of thousands of our young people to leave.

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