Off Our Meds: Guest Post: The Ebola Numbers

Welcome to “Off Our Meds,” a weeklong series in which LWON examines some scary issues in medicine. We won’t resort to fear mongering, because we don’t have to. Medicine is scary enough as it is.  Last week, over at The Atlantic, Jacoba Urist wrote about a truism in journalism: deaths closer to home matter more. This sounds […]

Guest Post: Estimating Deaths

Last month, the UN announced that the conflict in Syria has killed at least 92,901 people.  The number has been widely picked up.  Yet many reports miss how crucial the “at least” really is. 92,901 is the number of confirmed deaths – that is, a count.  Mostly likely, considerably more people have died.  Soon, the […]

Guest Post: Becoming a Statistician

  As you know, we are now one month into the International Year of Statistics. What, you didn’t know that? Yeah, statisticians aren’t really all that great at promotion.  Which is too bad, since they work on interesting problems in just about every field of science and engineering. The first time I went to the Joint […]

Abstruse Goose: Disproportionate Reaction

I should never argue about anything whatever with someone who understands math, especially someone who understands it as well as our boy, AG, here.  But I wonder whether “disproportionate” isn’t confusing statistics with neuroscience. Let’s say AG is 30 years old, meaning he’s lived for 10,800 days, so finding the spider one day out of […]

Top 3 Reasons to Stop Fretting About Being an Old Dad

You probably heard about last week’s Nature study on older dads and autism; it got a lot of attention. The basic findings were fascinating but, in my opinion, far less sensational than what most of the news articles would have us believe. The researchers, led by Kári Stefánsson of deCODE Genetics in Iceland, showed that the average 20-year-old man passes on […]

How many victims are there?

The case against accused child molester Jerry Sandusky includes testimony about eight victims, and the New York Times is reporting that ten more have stepped forward since the case became public. These allegations present a pattern of abuse that extends over more than a decade, and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has said he expects more […]

Penguin Study Sparks a Tiff (of sorts)

As a journalist, I live in constant terror of making mistakes. This anxiety typically simmers just below the surface of my consciousness, occasionally bubbling up to grab me in a full choke hold. But errors are more or less inevitable in this business. And last week, I made one. A new Nature study showed that […]