Lies, damned lies and statistics

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by David Whipp » 26 Jun 2013, 07:52

Perhaps Plaques is quoting the parable of the education system to illustrate a point?

The shortcomings exposed in the health service recently are awful. But Hunt appears to be exploiting them?

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Bruff » 26 Jun 2013, 08:20

I wonder..............

Just to expand on my original post earlier on the meaningless in and of itself of the 8 deaths a day figure. There are some 230M individual contacts with the NHS a year and a real big chunk of those will be open to human error and potential fatal consequence. That is a fatal error rate of about 0.00001% (we could knock a zero off to account for those errors which really very probably won't lead to death).

Any death is a tragedy for all concerned, but is this rate tolerable? I use 'tolerable' advisedly. In a sense, they are and never will be acceptable and that is why we might expect these errors to be investigated. But are they something we as society should tolerate for the other benefits that accrue to the 99.9999%? We tolerate a lot of things because of the wider benefits. Car use for one. Stairs in homes and other premises, where not far off eight folk a day die because they fall down them - we do not insist on bungalows. There is a difference. In our cars and in our homes, we are in control of the risk. When we give up that control to a 'professional' we perhaps expect more. But should we?

Mr Hunt could have made these points. I'm unsure what his not doing so tells us about both him and us....

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Tizer » 26 Jun 2013, 09:51

plaques wrote:...in the end it will become clear that private medicine is superior with better outcomes. Subsequent league tables will then show that the rump end NHS cannot compete and should be handed over to the best practice organisations who in turn will trim the loss making sections leaving only the profitable ones.
You must be joking! Stanley's got it right - if you think private medicine is better go and try living in the USA where you'll find that they envy our NHS. In the private sector you'll pay more but still get problems. I know, I've used both.

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Tripps » 26 Jun 2013, 11:13

Bruff wrote "I suspect the poster above on private/NHS was being ironic."

Looks like two of us do not have a sufficiently developed irony detector. :smile:
Born to be mild. . .

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by plaques » 26 Jun 2013, 18:25

Perhaps I should come clean and say “yes” I was taking a swipe at those who speak with forked tongue. I must also declare that I think both the NHS and education are moving down a total privatisation route. Even the “American Dream” has now been consigned to the dustbin of history with the rich getting richer and the poor doomed to everlasting poverty. Are we seeing the last big grab of British assets before their au revoir?.
So ignore what they say just watch what they do and follow the money.

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Stanley » 27 Jun 2013, 04:27

The real tragedy is that we live in one of the richest countries in the world but we're daft enough to allow political dogma and private greed to suck it all up. Read Marx again, he was right!
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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Tripps » 27 Jun 2013, 07:58

"we live in one of the richest countries in the world"

Is that really the case? How can it be when the country is in so much debt? My definition of rich is having a few quid in the bank, and owing nothing to anyone. :smile:
Born to be mild. . .

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Tizer » 27 Jun 2013, 08:07

At the time of the identification of the Richard III remains at Leicester we discussed the claims about present people being his decendants. The findings gave a big stimulus to those companies who will `prove' that you are genetically linked to some celebrated figure in history - for a large fee of course. A further boost came from claims that Prince William has Indian genes. A few comments from the the editor (Chris Catling) of the magazine Current Archaeology (June 2013, page 47) clarify the matter...

"Mark Thomas, Professor of Evolutionary Genetics, speaking for the campaign group Sense About Science, has now said that such tests are no more than `genetic astrology'. and that trying to trace your lineage through your genes is absurd because we all share such a vast amount of our genetic sequence with everyone else on the planet. The ancestral histories that such companies supply based on a simple genetic test is just one of hundreds of thousands of possible matches, usually chosen to flatter credulous clients who want to think that they have an exceptional lineage. But, as Professor Steve Jones, author, TV presenter and Head of the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London, puts it: `almost every Briton is a descendant of Viking hordes, Roman legions, African migrants. Indian Brahmins, or anyone else you fancy'."

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by hartley353 » 27 Jun 2013, 09:34

Hobby research traced my family lineage back to Robert the Bruce, what I also found on this journey was that 18% of the population of Scotland can also claim the same.As one nation we are probably all one family, now thats important.

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Tardis » 27 Jun 2013, 14:55

The ONS states that the UK didn't have a double dip and has revised down the loss of GDP for the crash, now over 7%

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by plaques » 27 Jun 2013, 18:35

I don't pretend to understand GDP. To me its all smoke and mirrors. Just because its an indicator that's measured on a regular basis it doesn't mean much at a personal level any more than saying money held in bank accounts is "XXX" amount.
An excerpt from the Wiki definition is show below.

The valuable capacity of the human mind to simplify a complex situation in a compact characterization becomes dangerous when not controlled in terms of definitely stated criteria. With quantitative measurements especially, the definiteness of the result suggests, often misleadingly, a precision and simplicity in the outlines of the object measured. Measurements of national income are subject to this type of illusion and resulting abuse, especially since they deal with matters that are the centre of conflict of opposing social groups where the effectiveness of an argument is often contingent upon oversimplification. [...]
All these qualifications upon estimates of national income as an index of productivity are just as important when income measurements are interpreted from the point of view of economic welfare. But in the latter case additional difficulties will be suggested to anyone who wants to penetrate below the surface of total figures and market values. Economic welfare cannot be adequately measured unless the personal distribution of income is known. And no income measurement undertakes to estimate the reverse side of income, that is, the intensity and unpleasantness of effort going into the earning of income. The welfare of a nation can, therefore, scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income as defined above.

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Stanley » 28 Jun 2013, 03:38

All I got from the ONS report was that the economy is flat-lining and personal incomes are falling. No surprises in either of these.
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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by plaques » 16 Jul 2013, 19:50

The bad news is that the latest inflation figure is recorded at 2.7 %. The good news is that it was expected to be higher. Which cloud cuckoo land are we living in. Lets say it could have been 10% . We could all go round clapping and cheering at our good fortune!

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Stanley » 17 Jul 2013, 03:45

2.9 actually but meaningless because it's only an average. For poor folk it's much higher.
13,500 grabbed me yesterday. This is the number of supposed 'avoidable deaths' in hospitals. Totally spurious of course, speaking about the SHMI even Keogh reported that "However tempting it may be, it is clinically meaningless and academically reckless to use such statistical measures to quantify actual numbers of avoidable deaths." buit this didn't stop them being used to attack the NHS. The index is widely seen as unproven and dangerous. The standard of debate in PMQs yesterday was apalling, Hunt said it was a 'historical report' implying that it showed the last government's faults when in fact the years studied were 2011 and 2012. Further, Keogh suggests that shortage of nuses may be a factor. Hunt completely ignored this and completely disregarded the feelings of anyone who had had someone die in hospital by suggesting the hospitals 'killed them'. This is bad statistics, dirty politics and bare faced manipulation of the facts for electoral purposes.
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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Tardis » 17 Jul 2013, 09:41

PMQ's is today, yesterday was a statement about the Keogh report.

The problem with NHS statistics is that you do not know how many of those statistical deaths were avoidable. That is the point that Keogh made. Without that kind of transparency, you will never know which NHS Trusts are properly under performing.

I'm sure that it won't help that some people might now wonder if their relative actually should have died, but what is worse, the NHS won't admit to it's failings

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Stanley » 18 Jul 2013, 04:18

"However tempting it may be, it is clinically meaningless and academically reckless to use such statistical measures to quantify actual numbers of avoidable deaths."

This was what the report actually said. You can't get much clearer than that. Go back and read Charlie Webster's 'Healthy or Hungry Thirties' and recognise that what he describes in there is still true now. In fact when he gave me permission to publish the lecture (and remember that at the time he was the official historian of the NHS) he said that it was high time the lecture surfaced again as he could see the same thing happening throughout government statistics. The unemployment figures are a classic case in point. See this LINK for the article in Rare Texts.
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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Tizer » 30 Apr 2014, 09:33

Ken Clarke on the Today programme this morning talking about immigrants: "There are more British people working in Europe than immigrants coming to work here." Yes Ken, but Europe's population is 12 times greater than that of the UK (so the Brits are more diluted in Europe) and its area is 40 times greater (lots more space for Brits).

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Stanley » 01 May 2014, 03:52

Tiz, that's a nice example of misleading use of statistics. Sounds plausible in a sound bite but doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Safest thing to do is to ignore all statistics that are not peer reviewed and properly evaluated. This means that all political use should be ignored....
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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by chinatyke » 01 May 2014, 08:07

It's a fact that half of British people are above average intelligence, whilst half of Americans are below average. :devil:

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by David Whipp » 01 May 2014, 09:43

chinatyke wrote:It's a fact that half of British people are above average intelligence, whilst half of Americans are below average
That's mean!

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by plaques » 01 May 2014, 11:37

A mean observation it may be but here's still more Americans below average than British above.

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Stanley » 02 May 2014, 05:02

P is right, if you look at the genuine statistics it's quite amazing how bad the US fares in everything from health issues to education. The world has been brainwashed into believing that the US is a world leader when in fact in many areas they are worse than some of the under-developed countries.
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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Tizer » 02 May 2014, 10:26

Look at Pfizer and Astra Zeneca. The British company is better (more innovative) than the American, but the American is bigger so it's trying to eat up the smaller.

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Stanley » 03 May 2014, 05:30

The market system at it's finest! If you have the financial muscle, beat the opponents into submission. Meanwhile, us midges have to put up with it because the men and women doing it are Lords of the Universe!
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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Tizer » 09 May 2014, 11:09

Radio 4's `More or Less' programme returned last Friday and the 2nd in this series is on this afternoon. Don't miss any episodes! Also available as podcasts: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/moreorless

"More or Less: Behind the Stats
Tim Harford investigates numbers in the news. Numbers are used in every area of public debate. But are they always reliable? Tim and the More or Less team try to make sense of the statistics which surround us. A half-hour programme broadcast at 1600 on Friday afternoons and repeated at 2000 on Sundays on Radio 4. BBC World Service broadcasts a short edition over the weekend."

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