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Showing posts from April, 2017

A Numbers Game

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Before I pivoted to writing full-time, I was a scientist. A molecular biologist, to be exact. I wore a lab coat and everything. Trust me, it was very impressive.

Like many scientists, I’m more than passingly acquainted with statistics. I’m not saying I’m a wiz or anything, but I know enough to get by. When you spend half your time generating data and the other half analyzing it, a little number crunching is unavoidable.

The funny thing about numbers is, people take them as gospel, when in fact they can be manipulated in all sorts of ways—and for all sorts of reasons.

Eighteen months ago, the media went nuts over a World Health Organization report that classified bacon as a carcinogen. The statistic they latched onto was that eating bacon made you 18% likelier to develop colorectal cancer. Pretty terrifying, right?

Not really. See, your baseline risk of developing colorectal cancer is roughly 5%. 18% of 5% is 0.9%. So in reality, eating bacon raises your risk of colorectal cancer by les…