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Old 07-05-2007, 02:49 PM   #24
Heather
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ennay, that's a great example.

I like to say not that statistics are always skewed, but that they are often misinterpreted. That is, people don't take into account all the factors (like the example above) when they try to put them into context.

I wish students learned how to interpret science and research studies more in the public schools! I think we are often scientifically illiterate in many ways because people don't teach us the right questions to ask! So many of us just get frustrated and decide that all research is meaningless, because it seems so confusing! It IS confusing, I agree, but I think we expect "truth" and "answers" and science moves very slowly to give those.

Take the question of this thread: "Is it Unhealthy to be Fat?"

I don't think we know the full answer to that question, not by a longshot. But I'm willing to bet the answer is something like this:

"Well, when you look at people at the extremes, really really skinny, or really really fat, that as a whole they tend to suffer more of this and that and die sooner than people in the middle. Now, as for those in the middle, yes, as weight increases there are increased tendencies to experience this and that problem, but one must also take into account other lifestyle issues. For example, regular exercise plays an important role in reducing x, y and z diseases. And don't forget nutrition! To complicate matters further, people who are deemed overweight may be more likely to experience q and r than "normal weight" people, but they tend to be protected from s and t."

And that isn't concise and doesn't fit on a headline of a news report!
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