I find statistics very interesting. It’s amazing how a pollster can interview only a thousand people and so accurately predict how millions of people will vote in a particular election. It confuses me though and I wonder if someone could enlighten me to a degree about what the numbers mean sometimes.
Recently, I was in my doctor’s office and he was explaining to me how this new blood thinner, Xarelto, is so much better than the old standard of Coumadin. He showed me stats on reccurrences of heart attacks and pulmonary embolism. I don’t remember the numbers exactly but they were very low for each drug. So let’s just say that Xarelto patients who have heart attacks were about 1.7% and Coumadin patients with the same issues were 2.5. What exactly is the difference? To me both numbers are fairly negligible.
When I was on anti-depressants, I had certain side effects. I had the typical complaints that other users have when it came to sexual issues and dry mouth. So why is it that the pre-trial studies found that people taking the drug (as opposed to the placebo) who had dry mouth issues or sexual issues are approximately 15% or so? That number does not seem very significant but I’m assuming that it is a high number and which signifies that this particular side effect is a common one. But since when is 15% a common issue? I would think that the number should be at least a majority or reaching one (about 40% minimum).
I assume that these numbers are relative in some way. If a batter gets a hit 33.3% of the time, he’d be among the best in the league, but if a basketball player hits 33.3% of his free throws, he should consider a change of profession. But nevertheless, if someone came to me and said that this pill you’re going to take may give you, say, blurry vision, and the chances are 14 in 100 that it might happen, I wouldn’t be happy but I’d still like my chances. But I’d be wrong, right?