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  • WHO’s Shotgun Statistics

    Posted by Shannon Love on May 13th, 2009 (All posts by )

    Instapundit links to a story on a WHO report on Swine-Flu. This bit caught my eye:

    Ferguson and his collaborators, part of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Rapid Pandemic Potential Assessment Collaboration, determined that 6,000–32,000 individuals had been infected in Mexico by late April. 

    Translating from media speak, 6,000-32,000 actually means a 95% confidence level of 19,000 plus/minus 13,000! That’s not a statistic, it’s a shotgun blast of mathematical pellets. At long range.

    All the rest of the calculations seem to descend from this dubious guess. Why do they even bother? As I’ve written before, bad data are worse than no data at all. 

    [Note to grammar nazis: Technically, data is a plural. Datum is the singular.]

     

    3 Responses to “WHO’s Shotgun Statistics”

    1. Kirk Parker Says:

      [Note to Latin nazis: you’re writing in English, dude.]

    2. Shannon Love Says:

      Kirk Parker,

      ILLEGITIMI NON CARBORUNDUM

    3. Kirk Parker Says:

      :-) !!!!!