Saturday, June 7, 2014

Correlations Are Awfully Interesting

Did you know that fat ingestion causes cancer and heart disease?  Well, not only that, but crude oil imports from Norway cause an increase in death due to drivers crashing into trains in the US.
Here's the proof:  Tyler Vigen Spurious Correlations

This guy's page of correlations is how dietary advice is largely reported - folks get money to test for correlations, and report their findings.  When the information is interesting, or uninteresting, reporters make it into a story, usually by pretending that correlations mean more than they do.

Why are we stuck with this sort of immature science about diet and health?  Why don't they conduct more expensive and definitive studies?  Cost and complexity - both are so high such studies may never be done.  Medicare and Medicaid - designed to provide needed care to the poor and elderly - is eating the federal government, and leaving politicians with very little of other people's money to spend.  As the demand on these medical care systems grows the incentive to create feasible studies that yield usable information will increase.  

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