Speaking of New York: A quick post on definitions

As I was plowing through 600+ posts on Bloglines (a couple hundred of them phantom posts, the already-read posts that seem to show up in clumps of 25 from one blog every so often), I encountered one in which, in passing, the poster asked whether New York City was the 4th safest large city or the 1st–because of a statement from New York politicians saying they were #1 (where the published rankings show them as #4 and San Jose, the largest city in Northern California, as #1).

Not a contradiction, probably; rather, the joy of definitions. The New York claim is based on reducing “large cities” to the ten largest cities in the U.S., where the published ranking is based on the 31 cities with more than half a million people.

Heck, if the tenth largest city becomes safer than NYC, the NYC politicos can always redefine the population of “large cities” again…until maybe it’s “cities with more than three million people that happen to be situated on an island,” and then they get to keep the safest large city rating forever.

Nothing new here. For years, Holland America has bragged about being the highest-rated “large cruise line,” and the definition of “large cruise line” is always one based on number of ships, so as to exclude the cruise lines rated much higher than Holland America (Crystal, Regent Seven Seas, Silverseas, and Holland America’s corporate mates Windstar and Seabourn have two to five ships each; Holland America has quite a few more).

Did you know that Cites & Insights has the most readers of any ejournal*? I suspect that’s a true statement; it’s just not a particularly meaningful or interesting one once you read the footnote. The key is to come up with an apparently meaningful broad definition, with the details in the fine print…

*In the field of librarianship produced and edited by a single person

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