Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Lies, Dam Lies and Statistics

I am working on my next China post but could not pass this up.

This article appears on Yahoo France is health care leader, US comes dead last: study .
The ABC news video on Yahoo starts off by saying US ranks last in preventable deaths.
However if you read the article what it really says is that the US saw the smallest PERCENTAGE INCREASE IN PREVENTING PREVENTABLE DEATHS. This is a significant difference
What the article does not tell you is the percentage of preventable deaths prevented that was the baseline.
For instance if the US was preventing 95% of all preventable deaths and France, the number one in the study was only preventing 70% of all preventable deaths then what the study is really saying is that France is finally catching up to the US. The fact that France saw a 16% decline in preventable deaths and the US only saw a 4% decline in preventable deaths has much less negative meaning if the US is already way ahead in preventing deaths.

Now I do not know what that baseline is but without it this study is meaningless and the fact that the baseline is not given makes me suspicious. Then the News media not only fails to note this but then mis-characterizes what they have been given. It does not say we are the worse it says we had the smallest percentage improvement.

So now when your liberal friends trot this out to support socialized medicine you can point out to them the key missing data which makes their argument meaningless.

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