Statistic freaks should be put in jail

David Soler

Pets can extend your lifespan by seven years, or so AIG insurance company claims in an ad. Married people tend to live an average 10 years longer than single ones, our radiation officer told us when we shared with him our fears of having to work with radioactivity for our research projects. On top of that, now a new study published on Archives of Internal Medicine brazenly suggests that turbulent relationships can lead to an increase in heart disease. Stop it!

Could someone please tell the media, the scientists and the politicians who fund them to stop funneling in all this statistical garbage? It adds nothing but useless amounts of information on newspapers’ pages. Who in their right state of mind really likes to be reminded 24/7 that life is a disease with a terminal outcome? Unfortunately, statistics freaks seem to be oblivious to common sense.

For that matter, even Ken Burns, the director of the six-years-in-the-making film “The War,” seems to have been inspired by the fact that 1,000 WWII veterans die on a daily basis. I wrote 1,000, that’s right. How is it possible that no one does anything to stop it from happening? Well, if you are not a statistical freak, you already know the answer and accept it as fact of life, like the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Then why do governments and scientists keep bugging us with those types of. how to define them? Futile pseudo-facts for entertaining coffee breaks or traffic jams? I say pseudo-facts to avoid defining them as what they are: Sophisticated lies. I am sure you have heard the saying that there are lies. Big lies and statistics.

Maybe those grim reapers’ studies just try to inflict fear upon us. Everybody knows that crying wolf is sales’ optimal cannon fodder. It seems that publishers are just searching for those split-second goosebumps on your forearms.

Are they perhaps trying to subliminally improve our lives too? Unlikely, as if turbulent relationships could be controlled like changing a TV channel. Do you listen to the “John Tesh Radio Show?” If you do, you might get what I am talking about when Mr. Tesh whispers to you, for example, to “use dental floss before, not after, brushing your teeth.”

Then why are we regularly invaded by those slogans? It’s easy. Because newspapers are running out of news. Remember that the next time you read that “a new study suggests dressing in yellow improves eye vision.” That would translate to “we are sorry we have nothing to publish today.”

The funny thing is that “turbulent relationship with heart disease” aperitivo, made the press on the eve of Oct. 7’s Wisconsin shooting spree. Because there seems to be a tacit censorship – and I applaud it – about broadcasting, how to classify “useless whackos with guns” stories, journals are veering towards a perpetual crawling for any sort of parallel non-gun related dire irregularities. Why not publish, for example, that cancers are in remission or global warming will be eventually tackled? No, better publish something such as “Be worried. Be very worried” – the cover of Time magazine, April 3, 2006. That’s what grabs people into stories. Focusing on death, disease and pain is more interesting than remembering that we are the only species in the known universe who invented music.

David Soler is a biomedical sciences graduate and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].