Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Advice for journos: Read “Stats Done Wrong” …

A fine example of rubbish designed to grow stories not knowledge would be this mornings “death by bacon if the sausage hasn’t killed you” piece of melodrama drawn from the aptly named WHO.

We are told that an extra 50 grams of bacon will increase one’s chances of getting bowel cancer by 18% – and variants on those numbers. We are not told an 18% increase “over what”. Yesterdays consumption? Some unspecified existing average? Zero? Presumably Dr WHO tells us in his report and the mere detail has eluded the journalistic mind?

Getting only slightly more picky, how does this compare with a 50 gram increase in anything else? The only clue seems to be that processed meat is as bad as tobacco and arsenic. Most helpful I’m sure. Alarm and despondency is however as job preserving for WHO persons as it is for news inventers.

Of course living another day does indeed increase one’s probability of dying. What’s more the longer this living an extra day business goes on the more dangerous it gets.. A sure-fire means of preventing this is not to be born. More effective than any rasher avoidance scheme.

BTW the book, written in a less annoyed frame of mind than I write, may be found here in draft or buy at Amazon.

2 comments:

  1. Good. I can buy it when I get home. Bangkok people don't sell books or read much, and nobody knows what a statistic is. No wait. There is some academic who said he had statistical and scientific evidence that global warming will melt the asphalt roads here, and the gulf of Thailand will rush right in, That will be why the little Thai girls say 'you please take us to New Zealand with you, we don't like our high heels stuck in the molten asphalt'. I need a statistics book. Sometimes I am suspicious of Eric Crampton. I think he's a libertarian as well as a Canadian.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good. I can buy it when I get home. Bangkok people don't sell books or read much, and nobody knows what a statistic is. No wait. There is some academic who said he had statistical and scientific evidence that global warming will melt the asphalt roads here, and the gulf of Thailand will rush right in, That will be why the little Thai girls say 'you please take us to New Zealand with you, we don't like our high heels stuck in the molten asphalt'. I need a statistics book. Sometimes I am suspicious of Eric Crampton. I think he's a libertarian as well as a Canadian.

    ReplyDelete