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There are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics

March 26, 2010

It was hard to find anything I wanted to write about today. The news is full of doom and gloom as usual. So I turned to the Daily Mail. There’s always something “stimulating” in the Mail.

True to form I found myself laughing at Steve Doughty’s article claiming that women are the real hypochondriacs. According to Steve, the findings of researchers from the Office for National Statistics has finally exonerated men from the charge of man-flu-ism.

But as always with statistical reports, one has to read between the lines. Here are some examples.

“It concludes that members of the fairer sex are less likely than their opposites to die from poor health.”

That’s because we look after ourselves properly. Next…?

“Across Britain ‘women are more likely to report poorer health than men, but this is not reflected in subsequent mortality rates’, the report said.”

That’s because we report poor health and get it treated, which is why we don’t drop dead, like the men who don’t go to the doctor and don’t look after themselves properly.

“Women were more likely than men to report that they were in “not good” or “fairly good” health, but they were less likely to die during the follow-up period,’ it added.”

Hello? What did I just tell you?

“Researchers also found that certain social groups are more likely to say that they are ill – as well as more likely to die over the next five years.”

So certain social groups say they’re ill and – wow – it turns out that they are actually ill and so perhaps that’s why they die…

But wait, what are these social groups?

“People who have never married, divorcees and those separated from their husbands”

So if you’re in a relationship, you’re less likely to be ill, or perhaps less likely to admit to being ill. And less likely to die.

Hmm. Would that be because most people in a long-term relationship have children? When do mums have time to be ill, let alone die?

“Others are people living in council or housing association homes, those who do not own a car, those with no educational qualifications, or people who are unemployed.”

Ok, this has got to be true, since most illness is caused by stress. No surprises there.

As for Scotland…well….

‘This reflects our finding that members of the Scottish sample were no more likely to report “not good” or “fairly good” health than those in England and Wales, but that they had higher relative risks of death.’

They’re still men, not reporting their ill-health. And as for the higher relative risks of death I’m saying nothing about whisky. Or Haggis.

Finally, the report rounds off with the information that men are less likely to fill in census forms.

Look, I’m just a blonde, but doesn’t that imply that the findings of the report that more women than men are visiting the doctor are due to the fact that fewer men have filled in the form….?

Hmm.

Conclusion?

Disraeli was right. “There are lies, damned lies, and then there are statistics.”

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