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Archive of posts filed under the Public Health category.

“Smaller Share of Women Ages 65 and Older Are Living Alone,” before and after age adjusment

After noticing this from a recent Pew Research report: Ben Hanowell wrote: This made me [Hanowell] think of your critique of Case and Deaton’s finding about non-Hispanic mortality. I wonder how much these results are driven by the fact that the population of adults aged 65 and older has gotten older with increasing lifespans, etc […]

Here’s something I know nothing about

Paul Campos writes: Does it seem at all plausible that, as per the CDC, rates of smoking among people with GED certificates are double those among high school dropouts and high school graduates? My reply: It does seem a bit odd, but I don’t know who gets GED’s. There could be correlations with age and […]

Birthday analysis—Friday the 13th update, and some model checking

Carl Bialik and Andrew Flowers at fivethirtyeight.com (Nate Silver’s site) ran a story following up on our birthdays example—that time series decomposition of births by day, which is on the cover of the third edition of Bayesian Data Analysis using data from 1968-1988, and which then Aki redid using a new dataset from 2000-2014. Friday […]

Are you pro or anti-biotics?

Paul Alper points to this news article by Susan Perry: Probiotics have been overhyped and rely on ‘shaky’ science, reporter finds Although some of these studies’ results may be promising, they aren’t strong enough to support the long list of claims currently being made by the manufacturers of probiotic products. . . . Perry links […]

Gary Venter’s age-period-cohort decomposition of US male mortality trends

Following up on yesterday’s post on mortality trends, I wanted to share with you a research note by actuary Gary Venter, “A Quick Look at Cohort Effects in US Male Mortality.” Venter produces this graph: And he writes: Cohort effects in mortality tend to be difficult to explain. Often strings of coincidences are invoked – […]

Lots of buzz regarding this postdoc position in London

Tom Churcher writes: We are currently advertising for an infectious disease modeller to investigate the impact of insecticide resistance on malaria control in Africa. The position is for 3 years in the first instance and is funded by the Wellcome Trust. No previous malaria or mosi experience required. Please circulate to anyone who might be […]

DG XXXVII: Lumosity fined $2 million for deceiving customers about its “brain training” programs

Paul Alper writes: Because you went to MIT and are a chess enthusiast, you probably know a lot more about Claude Shannon than I do. However, did you know that as intellectually brilliant as he was, he died of “after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease”? I bring up this factoid because it sort of […]

GIGO

Lee Wilkinson writes: In the latest issue of Harvard Magazine (http://www.harvardmagazine.com/2015/12/cambridge-02138), a letter writer (David W. Pittelli) comments under the section “Social Progress Index”: We are informed by Harvard Magazine (November-December 2015, page 15) that the country with the best “Health and Wellness” (“Do people live long and healthy lives?”) is Peru, while the United […]

Postdoc in Alabama on obesity-related research using statistics

David Allison writes:

Best Disclaimer Ever

Paul Alper sends this in, from the article, “Ovarian cancer screening and mortality in the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS): a randomised controlled trial,” by Ian J Jacobs, Usha Menon, Andy Ryan, Aleksandra Gentry-Maharaj, Matthew Burnell, Jatinderpal K Kalsi, Nazar N Amso, Sophia Apostolidou, Elizabeth Benjamin, Derek Cruickshank, Danielle N Crump, Susan […]

Somebody’s reading our research.

See footnote 10 on page 5 of this GAO report. (The above graphs are just for age 45-54, which demonstrates an important thing about statistical graphics: They should be as self-contained as possible. Otherwise when the graph is separated from its caption, it requires additional words of explanation, as you are seeing here.)

Numbers too good to be true? Or: Thanks, Obama!?

This post is by Phil. The “Affordable Care Act” a.k.a. “Obamacare” was passed in 2010, with its various pieces coming into play over the following few years. One of those pieces is penalties for hospitals that see high readmission rates. The theory here, or at least one of the theories here, was that hospitals could […]

Kalesan, Fagan, and Galea respond to criticism of their paper on gun laws and deaths

The other day we posted some remarks on a recent paper by Bindu Kalesan, Jeffrey Fagan, Sandro Galea, “Firearm legislation and firearm mortality in the USA: a cross-sectional, state-level study.” In response to the criticisms from me and various commenters, the authors of the paper prepared a detailed response, which I’m linking to here. They […]

Job opening . . . for a data graphics editor!

Larry Wheeler writes: I’m the managing editor at Health Affairs, a monthly peer-reviewed journal about health policy. We publish a lot of statistical graphics submitted with manuscripts from academic, industry, and government researchers. We have a job opening for a new position we’re calling “data graphics editor.” I’ve been having trouble attracting the right kind […]

Fundamental difficulty of inference for a ratio when the denominator could be positive or negative

I happened to come across this post from 2011, which in turn is based on thoughts of mine from about 1993. It’s important and most of you probably haven’t seen it, so here it is again: Ratio estimates are common in statistics. In survey sampling, the ratio estimate is when you use y/x to estimate […]

Fast analysis, soft statistics, and junk data intake is unrelated to research quality for 0% of American scientists

Under the heading, “Yet another bad analysis making the rounds,” John Mount writes: This won’t waste much of your time—because there really isn’t much there. But I thought you would be disturbed by this new paper. Here’s my (Mount’s) commentary on what we can surmise about the methods. Mount is pretty scathing. He starts with […]

Where the fat people at?

Pearly Dhingra points me to this article, “The Geographic Distribution of Obesity in the US and the Potential Regional Differences in Misreporting of Obesity,” by Anh Le, Suzanne Judd, David Allison, Reena Oza-Frank, Olivia Affuso, Monika Safford, Virginia Howard, and George Howard, who write: Data from BRFSS [the behavioral risk factor surveillance system] suggest that […]

Stunning breakthrough: Using Stan to map cancer screening!

Paul Alper points me to this article, Breast Cancer Screening, Incidence, and Mortality Across US Counties, by Charles Harding, Francesco Pompei, Dmitriy Burmistrov, Gilbert Welch, Rediet Abebe, and Richard Wilson. Their substantive conclusion is there’s too much screening going on, but here I want to focus on their statistical methods: Spline methods were used to […]

Placebo effect shocker: After reading this, you won’t know what to believe.

Martha Smith writes: Yesterday’ BBC News Magazine featured an article by William Kremer entitled, “”Why are placebos getting more effective?”, which looks like a possibility for a blog post discussing how people treat surprising effects. The article asserts that the placebo effect has been decreasing, especially in the U.S. The author asks, “Why? What could […]

Is a 60% risk reduction really no big deal?

Paul Alper writes: Here’s something really important. Notice how meaningless the numbers can be. Referring to a 60% risk reduction in flu due to the flu vaccine: As for the magical “60?” Dr. Tom Jefferson didn’t mince words: “Sorry I have no idea where the 60% comes from – it’s either pure propaganda or bandied […]