What is the environment?

The environment is, of course, something that only you can save. It is something to be preserved. It has a spiritual essence. In hotels anxious to reduce their laundry bill,…

Hostage ads are cancelled.

The bizarre "We are holding your child hostage," and the innumerate "Over 12 million kids are being held hostage" ads --- which I wrote about here -- have been canceled,…

You have to die of something: or, COPD deaths “skyrocket”

If you think it’s good news that the death rates by stroke, heart disease, cancer, and just plain accidents have declined last year (diabetes deaths have remained steady), then you’re not trying hard enough to find the dark lining to this silver cloud.

But, thank goodness, death rates from COPD have “skyrocketed“, so we don’t need to stop worrying! The New York Times even supplied a graph (below) as evidence of this calamity.

COPD death rates by males and females

There are two things wrong with this bleak outlook. The first is an error in logic, the second is one of bad graphics.

Can you see what’s wrong with the statistical graph? Looks like a dramatic increase in COPD deaths, right? Well, maybe. But hasn’t the population, for men and women, also increased—skyrocketed—since 1980? I have only been able to discover (from this site) the COPD deaths per 100,000 up until 2004 (not 2005 like the Times picture), but here is that picture:


One of the most promising new webcomics---Wayward Robot---discussed on the podcast Web Comic Beacon (at about the 24th minute). The comic is drawn by my younger son.

Another attempt to show abstinence is bad: “Losing virginity early or late tied to health risks”

That headline is from an MSNBC story of the same name. Taken at face value, it argues that, for maximum healthiness, we should all aim to lose our virginity at the same age.

No, just kidding. What the article actually says is that “People who start having sex at a younger or older than average age appear to be at greater risk of developing sexual health problems later in life”.

Which actually does sound like they think we should all start having sex simultaneously. But, still no. Actually, their intent is to “cast some doubts on the benefits of abstinence-only sexual education that has been introduced in U.S. public schools.”


How can you get from saying the people who start having sex at a younger age or those who start at an older age are “at higher risk” to “abstinence is bad”?