Additional Deaths

If you kill them, you kill them: early or not. But you do not increase the number of deaths

Let’s make it easy. If you cure cancer there will not be less deaths in the long term. In fact, there would be a point in the future where there would be more deaths in a year than there would be otherwise.

Whether it’s the right or or the left, phrasing arguments in terms of how many “additional deaths” there will be is an appeal to emotion. In the long term, the number of deaths is equal to the number of people born. What we need to look at instead is the years of life lost, especially the years in which people are well enough to enjoy life.

What brought this on is listening to a radio talk show host saying that over the last few decades there were 35,000 additional deaths as a result of a certain policy.

Absolutely. I don’t think it’s entirely fair that I can’t run for president until 2016 because I wouldn’t turn 35 until 3 months after being sworn in in 2012, so I’m going to use that time to run for state office instead.

My platform will include:

  • free cyanide for poor people and minorities (no one’s going to force them to take it, but they’ll be counseled about their options)
  • the penalty for texting while driving will be death
  • increased spending on road repair
  • a pro-global warming stance. Experts say that it’ll be much nicer weatherwise in NH if global warming isn’t reversed, much warmer with a lot less snow, so it should be a nice boost to our tourist industry…

I agree. Without the whole picture and context a lot of such claims are pointless and damaging.

The misuse of statistics for political gain is a growth industry. The amount of cherry picking and obscurist interpretation is horrific.
You rarely get the full picture and people always assume that significant=important. changing your diet you may raise your chance of death from certain cancer by a factor 3. aaaaaarrrrrrgghhhhhhhhh! save us!
Now the figures are correct, the significance is there and it is a real effect. But rarely are you told that actually, that certain cancer only affects 3 in every 10,000 people. You now have a 9 in 10,000 risk but at the same time, that same diet change has reduced your stroke risk from 50 in 1000 to 10 in 1000.

A good book on this and related subjects is Ben Goldacre’s “Bad Science”

(Note - figures have been POOMA*)
*Pulled out of my Arse

Carrousel and renewal.

Abstinence only will cause absolute increases in the number of deaths. Anything that increases the number of births increases the number of deaths.