Sunday, August 31, 2008

Reports & understanding them

One point I would like to make about reading reports. Not all reports are created equal. Here are a few points you should look for in a report.

1. Who wrote it? Was it a University Professor? A Medical University? The Government?
Or someone who is paid to be bias like a radio talk show host, lobbyist or corporation?

2. Population size? or sampling. The population size is important...usually the bigger the better.

3. Was the paper peer reviewed? Did other scientist read and approve the paper?

4. Increased Risk: When a report says there is an increased risk they mean from the "base line" or standard chances of getting something. For instance if the standard rate of getting a cancer is 1 in a 100,000 and the risk went up 60%....then the chances of getting the cancer increased to 1.6 people out of 100,000. If the risk went up 100% then the chances of getting the cancer is 2.0 people out of 100,000 (or 1 in 50,000)

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