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Response to frazzled (Reply #10)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 02:26 PM

18. Ah - real numbers at last. The most absurd thing about medical reporting is the asinine relative

If I buy two Powerball tickets instead of one I am 100% more likely to win $150MM toniight - a far more significant change in probability. Should I quit my job now? Of course the real "risk" number here is that I still only have a one in 88 or so million chance of winning, so no I shouldn't bother changing my life in anticipation of winning.

Now should I go veg to avoid CHD death? (In my case this is moot, but let's be generic). Well the numbers above say if I do, I am 99.38% likely to avoid dying of heart failure this year (0.62 mortality rate). Yeah healthy veggie me! But if I keep on with the bacon and cheeseburgers? 99.24% likely to avoid it (0.76 rate). Damn.....ermmmm....still pretty healthy carnivorous me I guess. Depends on whether you think another 14 skulls on that 10000 sided die is worth giving up greater enjoyment and variety for. Some say yep, most don't.

The point though is absurd relative risk numbers make idiots think these lifestyle changes present serious and dramatic benefits, when they don't. Even smoking - the unchallenged manifold times champion in avoidable health risks that leaves booze, fat, sugar, obesity and the like barely visible in its rear view mirror, doesn't approach the implicit idea that uninformed consumers - most of them - imagine when they are fed big numbers in health reporting.

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LineLineReply Ah - real numbers at last. The most absurd thing about medical reporting is the asinine relative
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