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8. Group Think

October 12, 2010

Statistics

Independent events can cluster.

I’ve seen this phenomena explained on the TV show Numb3rs. Fire a shotgun at a barn wall, draw a circle around a group of bullet holes with chalk and say ‘Wow! We hit the target’. Similarly, if groups of workers at a power plant, say, get a disease, the newspapers immediately blame the workplace. They could be right, but on the other hand, they could be wrong and the real cause of the illness is missed. (See  ABC Cancer Scare example.)

I’ve included the water % chart below to show you how grouping numbers after the event – namely your birth – may NOT reflect the nature of the whole.

eg. ABC abandons cancer scare building (The Age 21st Dec 2006)’

‘The ABC building in the Brisbane suburb of Toowong will be abandoned without knowing the cause of a high incidence of breast cancer cases among women staff members.

A five month investigation by an independent review panel was conducted after 12 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in the past 11 years.’

‘The study showed women who worked at the office reported breast cancer at a rate 11 times higher than the general working community.’

Catalyst ABC TV 11th Oct 2007

Cancer Clusters

‘The site was also tested for carcinogenic pollution and contamination of water supply and air conditioning. Quite simply, no scientific explanation for the cancers was found.’

Radiation levels were tested. Other possible breast cancer causes sited were shift work and the Mouse Mammary Virus.

No causal link has yet been found.

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One comment

  1. […] See ABC abandons cancer scare building. […]



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