Monday, January 31, 2005

News of the Fat

Another Study on obesity today in the NYT. This one, conducted by the Mayo clinic is interesting and as always the NYT is giving it all kinds of interesting implications. The Mayo Clinic's study took 20 individuals (NOT a big enough sample to be considered substantial, but still interestign) they studied their activity levels and ways of sitting and standing. They discovered that some people were predisposed to be inactive and that these people tended to be more obese than the active people. They also found that weight loss did not affect these activity levels.

Being an individual who is singularly itnerested in conserving effort at all costs I found it interesting that the findings said overwieght individuals tended to "conserve" energy. Conserving as many calories as possible. It is interesting that this today is a disadvantage where during humanity's more formative years it would have been a distinct advantage to conserve energy wherever possible, requiring less food when there was little.

But to my critique,

the New York Times says that "Biology may be why" this difference exists right in the headline. This, is highly misleading. For though it is possible that the difference is due to a biological factor, THIS STUDY IN NO WAY PROVES OR IMPLIES THIS. For though individuals may be predisposed to be more active or inactive this does not necessarily mean that it is written into their genetic code. However NYT let me down today though;

Study Shows Overweight People May Have Inactivity Gene AXcess News, NV - 14 hours ago

Congratulations AXcess News, you win my STUPID award for the day.

All this study proved is that some individuals are more disposed to be active than others and the more active individualds tend to be thinner as a result. (Surprise, burn more calories, lose more weight, who would have thought.) And this study did not confirm the idea that weight loss increases activity levels. So while there may be a disposition it is not necessarily biological or intrinsic to our personalities. They could find out that it is because they had a crappy gym teacher in 1st grade. You cannot imply ANY causes of this disposition from this study. All we can do is speculate, and speculation is a waste of my time.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Foot Amputation!

Got your attention didn't I? According to the AP via the NYtimes a new study conducted in europe has found a connection between risk factors for Heart Disease and nerve problems in diabetics. (which can result in the amputation of feet or other limbs OUCH.)

This study applies only to Diabetics with Type I diabetes (which is Juvenile onset diabetes, different from Type II which is usually caused by obesity).

here's an excerpt:

"British researchers selected 1,172 Type 1 patients throughout Europe and monitored their smoking habits, weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol and triglyceride levels over seven years. Nearly a quarter of them developed nerve damage during that time. After adjusting for how well patients' blood-sugar levels were controlled, scientists found an apparent connection between nerve damage and risk factors for heart disease. For example, patients who had high blood pressure were twice as likely to develop nerve problems"

I was concerned that they had failed to take into account an individual's blood sugar levels as well as their heart disease risk factors, but apparently they "adjusted" for it. Which I hope means that they were tracking that as well and not taking an individual's word for it. However some of these people may be on medications or have other habits that are factors. But overall I think this study is a good one to help jump off into further research on diabetic patients (Controlled experiments etc)

So while obviously maintaining a healthy body weight, low cholesterol, low blood pressure and not smoking are EXCELLENT ways to help lessen your risks and are healthy habits to have anyway, this article DOES NOT MEAN that you should stop monitoring your blood sugar.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Every Major Poll

Apparently the Iraqi's are pissed that we invaded their country. (SURPRISE!!!!) According to "every major poll" Mr. Nordland says in his amazingly unbiased article in Newsweek. (please note sarcasm) He cites Every major poll but the rest of his article is devoid of any details related to said polls. In Fact, the only information I can see supporting his claim that "Americans 'liberated' Iraq, but it's hard to find anyone who is grateful." is that there were 11 suicide bombings last week.

"Iraqis often point out that Saddam Hussein talked about freedom and democracy almost as much as the Americans do. Back in his day, Iraqis were free to vote in one-party elections, and did so with such zeal that he once won 104 percent of the vote. When the Americans arrived almost two years ago, most Iraqis had high hopes for much better. Now every major poll shows an ever-larger majority of Iraqis want the Americans to leave."

I am appalled that he would imply that Iraqis would lookback to the era of one party elections and death squads with longing. Now, I do not necessarily think that all Iraqi's are thrilled we are there. I certainly was opposed to the war when we started it, but now that we have begun I only hope that what was begun in stupidity can be finished with a thriving democracy in Iraq. And I hope that our coalition troops do a good job, but I don't know the facts so I will not speculate like some journalists on the horrors of being in Iraq, because I am cozy in my cube here in the U.S.

So, back to the polls. I looked on google for polls done within the last 6 months and had no luck. I'll keep searching and update later if I find them. Maybe I'll e-mail Mr. Nordland and see which polls he's talking about. Because I certainly can't find any that would be representative of the current mood in Iraq.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

1 in 1 Advice Goddesses are awesome

Here is a link to an excellent blog post from the Advice Goddess debunking a "1 in 5 children have been propositioned on the internet statistic". Its awesome. I haven't seen or heard of these ads they are talking about, but I'm glad she makes the valueable point about statistics and how easily they can be wrong.

Remember kids, 43% of statistics are made up on the spot.

Lies, Damned lies, and Statistics

In response to a post by the venerable Jeff Jarvis I am creating this blog in order to debunk the statistics quoted so frequently by journalists. However I have limited time and resources to go searching for stupidity. Mostly I will look at and the NYtimes. If there is another article you think I should look at please, E-mail it to me.

Today I'm going to start slow with this article from on, of all things, the number of laptops and cellphones lost in cabs this past year. Which though stupid, does not say anything wrong that I can see.

"AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands (Reuters) -- An estimated 11,300 laptop computers, 31,400 handheld computers and 200,000 mobile telephones were left in taxis around the world during the last six months, a survey found on Monday."

Firstly, as completely uninteresting as these numbers are, who cares? More interesting to me would be the percentage of passengers leaving things behind. 1 in 5, 1 in 10? These raw numbers tell us basically nothing about people's propensity to leave things behind. And apparently these numbers are higher than the 2001 numbers, but there is no mention of an increase in the population of laptops/cellphones etc. Though there is an interesting anecdote about Hugh Grants girlfriend.

Secondly, these numbers are based on a SURVEY of Taxi Drivers. Which means they are if not completely wrong, they are at least grossly innaccurate. An individual's ability to recall specific instances of anything is not great and when it happens a lot, people stop counting. They might get within 5, but the reliability of a survey that asks "how many times" did this happen is well, low at best. So to extrapolate the data to the rest of the cabs in the city means, well, that the results are not good. Which doesn't really concern me since no one is drawing any conclusiosn from this study.

I tried to find the orgiginal survey etc to get a good look at their methodoligy and see if the surveyors actually had anything interesting to say. But I had no luck, if anyone finds it, please send it my way.

So basically the biggest problem with this article is that the study it is reporting on is, well, boring. Though interesting possibly to cab companies the results might be useful if setting up a lost item tracking program or something. Fortunately none of the articles I have seen on this study have drawn any outlandish conclusions like "people are getting more absent minded" or "cab drivers love returning lost items" so that's all I have to say.

Remember kids, Correlation is not the same as Causation.