At a human trafficking conference last month, the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines said that 40% of male visitors to the country are sex tourists. Harry Thomas, who was appointed as the ambassador last year, sent a text message to the Philippine foreign secretary to apologize for using an unverified figure. “I should not have used the 40% statistic without the ability to back it up. I regret any harm that I may have caused,” the Guardian reports his text message said. Good to see that’s all cleared up, then.
According to PhilStar.com, the Philippines had 3.52 million visitors last year–an all-time high. With such a burgeoning tourist industry, Philippine officials were quick to rebuke Thomas’ claim. A presidential spokesperson went on radio to accept Thomas’ apology. “I think the statement of Ambassador Thomas clearly showed that he was not able to back up the statistics and hence he apologized to (Foreign Affairs) Secretary (Albert) del Rosario and to our government.”
Francis Escudero of the Philippine Senate even forgave Thomas for apologizing over text, saying, “Although it was only through text as I understand, it is nevertheless appreciated.”
While this was a potentially damaging foreign-relations hiccup, we get it. Making up statistics is a fun and effective way to quickly win an argument before getting the hell out of town.
Here are some other stats Ambassador Thomas should try, free of charge: