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20 July 2010



The op-ed is rather dsnturbiig but I think you missed one glaring falsehood Much of our discomfort with the panel's findings stems from a basic intuition: since earlier and more frequent screening increases the likelihood of detecting a possibly fatal cancer, it is always desirable. I believe that the major cause of the firestorm of controversy came from the timing of the report right in the middle of health care reform season. With the politicians filled with talk about bending the cost curve and accusations that care would be shorted for political and budgetary reasons, people were very much primed to be suspicious of any recommendation that reduced screenings were actually beneficial. The fact that the panel had no oncologists on it was an extra strike against it. The reaction demonstrated public's trust that the experts won't lie in order to save a few bucks was exposed as being very low. And why shouldn't it? The experts have lied before. Rogue science is at least as old as Piltdown man.


We did it because SCIENTISTS CONVINCED US IT WOULD BE BENEFICIAL This is a great point and in my opioinn it's right to be skeptical of the new recommendations and not make any rapid changes. Fortunately, the last I read was that insurance companies had no plans to change coverage.Paulos is describing once again the conditional probability fallacy; it's kind of his thing. But I think it's irresponsible of him to use made up numbers. The incidence rate of breast cancer and the mammogram false positive rate are presumably well known, why not use the real numbers and give women an actual estimate of the probability that a positive mammogram means cancer?However, I don't think it's fair to call him condescending or at least not specifically to women. His basic point is that when a condition is sufficiently rare, a positive result on even a very accurate test is not as conclusive as any non-statistician, male or female, would expect. He could and would, I think write the same thing about prostate cancer screening.You could argue that media in general are condescending to their audience, because each story on this should have P(cancer|positve) calculated and mentioned prominently. Paulos was evidently more interested in demonstrating how innumerate we are than in providing a useful service to the reader, but an editor could have asked for real numbers.


By Shaz November 29, 2011 - 10:50 amGreat article. Just found one minor error. In the secoitn on Zoe Lehane-lavarde, you referred to her as an 18 year old in one sentence instead of 18 month old: Zoe's parents were scared of her receiving chemotherapy, which is high risk for an 18 year old.


That is an iiterestnng read and he makes some iiterestnng points. However, even he acknowledges that there are many factors that go into happiness. I also would've liked to hear some discussion about culture as I believe that to be a contributing factor. The US was founded, in part, on a tax revolt. I think Americans are traditionally opposed to higher taxes. We're also much more focused on the individual as opposed to the collective. Also I have to agree with one of the commenters who stated: "Amazing how such an unhappy country has so many people pouring in?" It is true. Also, according to this list we ranked at #11, just out of the top 10. Not bad. And we were ahead of other highly taxed nations like France and GB. I will say this I live in one of the most taxed states and cities in the US and I'm NOT happy.


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