Debunked: Snopes incorrectly states that Joe Biden incorrectly stated the most common price of gas

Rory

Senior Member.
On October 27th, 2022 US president Joe Biden claimed that "the most common price of gas in America is $3.39, down from over $5 when I took office."

This has been soundly debunked on many places across the 'net, including at CNN:

The most common price for a gallon of regular gas on the day he was inaugurated, January 20, 2021, was $2.39.

The most common price as of this Tuesday [the 25th] was $3.39 per gallon, the number Biden cited in the Thursday speech, and it had fallen to $3.29 per gallon as of Friday.

https://edition.cnn.com/2022/10/28/politics/fact-check-biden-gas-prices/index.html
Content from External Source
Jordan Liles, on the other hand, writing on Snopes claimed that Biden was not only wrong about the figure when he took office, but that:

Biden added that the national average for U.S. gas prices was $3.39 as of late October 2022, which also was false.

On Oct. 22, The Associated Press reported that "the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.82," which was quite different from $3.39. Similarly, the EIA reported a price of $3.87 on Oct. 17 and $3.77 on Oct. 24, also not too close to $3.39.

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/biden-gas-prices-over-5-dollars
Content from External Source
Here Liles/Snopes are confusing average (what Biden didn't say) with mode (ie, "most common", which is what he did say). As the CNN article points out, Biden was right about the mode price, but very very wrong about the price when he came into office - and, of course, the non-existent decrease in price.
 
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Rory

Senior Member.
And even more surprising how some people don't understand that "most common" doesn't mean "average".

The Wall Street Journal posted an article on the differences and why some might feel mode is a better measure than mean, including the effect California has, currently adding about an extra eighteen cents to the average national price:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-the-most-common-gas-price-is-far-from-average-11666949402

That's paywalled - though for some reason I could read the whole thing on my phone, but not on my computer.

They also reference Patrick de Haan, head of Petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, who regularly tweets gas price stats.

Here's his tweet from two days before Biden's claim:


Source: https://twitter.com/GasBuddyGuy/status/1584936951525826560

And here's a GasBuddy chart from October 26th showing the difference between average and most common:

20221029_083043.jpg

Weird how the Snopes guy got it wrong. Probably they'll fix it at some point.

(NB Before some clever clogs points it out - strictly speaking all of mean, mode and median are a type of average. But I'm pretty sure just about everyone understands it as "mean" when used in print, in conversation, on screen, etc.)
 
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NoParty

Senior Member.
On October 27th, 2022 US president Joe Biden claimed that "the most common price of gas in America is $3.39, down from over $5 when I took office."

This has been soundly debunked on many places across the 'net, including at CNN:

The most common price for a gallon of regular gas on the day he was inaugurated, January 20, 2021, was $2.39.

The most common price as of this Tuesday [the 25th] was $3.39 per gallon, the number Biden cited in the Thursday speech, and it had fallen to $3.29 per gallon as of Friday.

https://edition.cnn.com/2022/10/28/politics/fact-check-biden-gas-prices/index.html
Content from External Source
Jordan Liles, on the other hand, writing on Snopes claimed that Biden was not only wrong about the figure when he took office, but that:

Biden added that the national average for U.S. gas prices was $3.39 as of late October 2022, which also was false.

On Oct. 22, The Associated Press reported that "the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.82," which was quite different from $3.39. Similarly, the EIA reported a price of $3.87 on Oct. 17 and $3.77 on Oct. 24, also not too close to $3.39.

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/biden-gas-prices-over-5-dollars
Content from External Source
Here Liles/Snopes are confusing average (what Biden didn't say) with mode (ie, "most common", which is what he did say). As the CNN article points out, Biden was right about the mode price, but very very wrong about the price when he came into office - and, of course, the non-existent decrease in price.
I saw that, last evening, and started to post it, but didn't have time to be sure I had the
"most common price" correctly...(and I also just am not much for starting threads)
so I'm really glad you did, Rory.

Yeah, I re-read the Snopes piece three times thinking:
"How are they not noticing that he didn't say 'average'?"
To be fair, they usually get it right...and Biden blowing the $5 part didn't help any...
 

deirdre

Senior Member.

Mendel

Senior Member.
The Wall Street Journal posted an article on the differences and why some might feel mode is a better measure than mean, including the effect California has, currently adding about an extra eighteen cents to the average national price:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-the-most-common-gas-price-is-far-from-average-11666949402

That's paywalled - though for some reason I could read the whole thing on my phone, but not on my computer.
I found that if you find the page via google (in privacy mode), it displays.

The average, by contrast, isn’t encountered very often because it’s skewed by ultrahigh prices in one state: California. This fall, while many drivers were seeing gas in the low $3s, prices in California soared from $5.21 on Sept. 6 to $6.31 a gallon by Oct. 10, a jump attributable to refinery shutdowns.

[..] The upshot is that the national average gas price is increasingly skewed by California. By itself, California raises the average nearly 20 cents. Mr. Borenstein calculates the latest national average excluding California was $3.53, only a few pennies from GasBuddy’s new estimate of the mode: $3.49 as of Oct. 24.

In its figures released Monday, GasBuddy puts the most common price at $3.49. If that number rings true, it probably says something about where you live. The most common price is currently something you can find in much of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, across the Great Plains and in the northern parts of the South.
Content from External Source
 

captancourgette

Active Member
(NB Before some clever clogs points it out - strictly speaking all of mean, mode and median are a type of average. But I'm pretty sure just about everyone understands it as "mean" when used in print, in conversation, on screen, etc.)
Yes. Average can be either one of the 3 things, and like you say its usually taken to be Mean.
The problem is Mean is for a lot of data the absolute worst of the 3 you could choose, esp often with money as outliers distort the number.
eg from a recent story I was reading (maybe not this one but similar) https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/average-american-net-worth

Mean wealth of a family in the USA is $748,000
Median wealth of a family in the USA is $121,700
Massive difference.
So depending how you want to spin it, Average family in USA is worth 748k, sounds a lot more impressive than average family is worth 121k (which closer to the truer number)
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
Yes. Average can be either one of the 3 things, and like you say its usually taken to be Mean.
The problem is Mean is for a lot of data the absolute worst of the 3 you could choose, esp often with money as outliers distort the number.
eg from a recent story I was reading (maybe not this one but similar) https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/average-american-net-worth

Mean wealth of a family in the USA is $748,000
Median wealth of a family in the USA is $121,700
Massive difference.
So depending how you want to spin it, Average family in USA is worth 748k, sounds a lot more impressive than average family is worth 121k (which closer to the truer number)

It depends on how you parse it, and thus what you're sampling:
The (average family)'s wage is most likely going to refer to the median.
The average (family's wage) is most likely going to refer to the mean.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
It depends on how you parse it

Absolutely right. That BI article went with:
20221030_090525.jpg
And if you're part of "an average American family" you're probably reading that and thinking "the hell we do!"

"An American family has an average net worth of" might have been a better way to put it.

But as Courgette points out, mean in this case is actually the worst measure one could use - ironically, it's kind of meaningless.
 
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