Statistical problems

I'm going to leave it to SecretDubai to point out the many problems the newspapers (especially the Khaleej Times) have with basic English. But two examples from this week show that they aren't doing so great in understanding basic statistics either.

Exhibit one: Tuesday's Emirates Today has a report on the US crime rate. Along with the article is a side bar that claims that "the theory that black people were more likely to become victims of murder was largely debunked...". It says that this is because blacks and whites both made up 49% of murder victims. Uh, guys, the US population is not evenly split between blacks and whites. According to the 2000 census, it is about 75% white and 12% black. Doing a quick calculation, it looks to me like blacks are about 6 times more likely to be murder victims.

Exhibit two: Wednesday's Khaleej Times has a story headlined Cellphones are not good for the heart. The proof: "Dr Rajeev Gupta, consultant cardiologist at Ahalia hospital told your favourite No. 1 newspaper Khaleej Times that radio frequency discharges from the mobile phones affect the electrical pacemaker of the heart, producing arterial fibrillation." This is groundbreaking news. A Google search of aterial fibrillation and cell phones turns up nothing that makes this connection. So, Dr. Gupta discovered this by doing an extensive study of hundreds of patients, right?

No, he noticed that two of his patients that had Atrial Fibrillation used their cell phones a lot. The article ends with Dr. Gupta summarizing a study from King Khalid University Hospital in Saudi Arabia "to determine the link between the use of mobile phones and hearing and vision complaints among the Saudi population". I'm no expert on medical studies, but these don't seem to prove any sort of relationship:

Time on cell phone per day
5-10 minutes10-30 minutes30-60 minutes60-120 minutes120+ minutes
earache, heating around the ear, and decreased hearing31.2%42.9%30.4%45%36.4%
decreased or blurred vision6.2%not givennot given5%not given

1 comment:

Hesham said...

I have seen and read much worse, atleast the have gotten the headlines under control (somewhat) I remeber a few years back some of the headlines wher outright rude!!!