Bioethics, media ethics, medical finance, politics

Statistics and politics

Statistics are easily mistakenly used and manipulated. Rudy Guiliani is under attack due to statistics that he quoted in a political ad running in New Hampshire . He spoke about the odds of surviving prostate cancer, contrasting the medical systems in the United States and in the United Kingdom. I saw a link to an article titled, “Guiliani learns math is hard” (I couldn’t get that link to work and had to do a search) when I was linking to the American Journal of Bioethics for yesterdays’ post.

The search at the Washington Post led me to Eugene Robinson’s opinion column (free registration required), which featured “Related” links to another op-ed by Libby Quaid of the AP and an AP “Fact Check” article that is almost identical to the Quaid piece. Robinson also links to the article that the Mayor’s statisticsare said to have from.

Both Quaid’s op-ed and the “Fact Check” article state that 15 out of 100,000 “people die from prostate cancer in the UK vs. 12 out of 100,000 in the US, a 20 percent (12 divided by 15) difference. (Or is it that people have a 25% higher chance of dying of prostate cancer in the UK, since 15 divided by 12 is 1.25?). It’s odd that the rates are given as “people” who die of prostate cancer, including men and women, since only men have prostates, I would expect to see those rates given in X out of a 100,000 men.

Somehow, Mr. Robinson adds 12 and 15, and comes up with “25 men out of 100,000 die of prostate cancer each year in both countries.” He guesses that Mayor Guilani “didn’t really care” whether his statistics are correct. Either Mr. Robinson’s math is bad, or he “didn’t really care” whether his readers to assumed that that’s 25 in the US and 25 in the UK.

Since I’m pro-life, I’m concerned about the possibility that Rudy Guiliani may be the next Republican candidate for President. The reason that I tend to vote Republican is because of the Republican Party Platform is pro-life.

However, I am also very concerned about the risk that Government insurance and control of medicine would bring.

While it’s true that the NHS doesn’t screen nearly as many men as our US docs, that hardly seems an argument for adopting the finance system of the former. Which system do you want: one that gives a 99% survival rate or one that gives 74% ?

About bnuckols

Conservative Christian Family Doctor, promoting conservative news and views. (Hot Air under the right wing!)


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