This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.
How come we are so good at ignoring the obvious?
That is sort of tricky. Just this last week I had to talk my dad through a malfunction of his speakers. When he first called, I asked "did you check your connections?"
We proceeded down a troubleshooting path from there. We isolated the problem to the speakers. I postulated either a faulty jack or a potentially sprung capacitor. I had him looking through the acrylic container to see if any of the caps looked like they were bulging.
As he was picking up the subwoofer to look at the crossover, he said astonished "Oh, look it isn't plugged in!"
He may not be an engineer, but he is moderately skilled in RC airplanes. Connections should be quite simple. They are so easy to overlook especially when something sexy is out there to replace it. Sexy can be a new pair of speakers with some wonderous response characteristics only someone with perfect hearing could appreciate or maybe a financial model that makes it "legitimate" to rid ourselves of the burden of waiting for a uptick before allowing a short sale to go through.
On the malaria deaths being underestimated by a factor of 2 by WHO (World Health Organisation), the only thing that surprises me about that story is that it's only a factor of 2. Every now and again you see a news story about WHO underestimating deaths in Third World countries, an example being this one from 2010, a BBC news story again reporting a Lancet study:
In the 2010 news story WHO were underestimating malaria death rates in India by a factor of 13.
The impression I've picked up from somewhere is that it's mainly due to political correctness. To assume that the death rate figures from a Third World country might have a problem with them could be construed by some as racist or colonialist or something, so WHO assume figures provided to them by all countries have equal validity.
- Oh yes I forgot to say
- Stats maybe tweaked to get more aid money ?
- in 1997-8 when I lived in Ghana I said to someone "do you believe that the malaria death rate is Y%, people die in in my village, but the death rate is surely not that high"
He replied "well a contact in the Italian embassy told me that he saw the figures after collection & they were X%, but before they forwarded to the EU they became Y%..more aid money you see"
- Anecdotal evidence counts for nothing normally, but it certainly fitted with the general impression that the UN was totally useless at everything except swanning around in white landcruisers spending money on restaurants.
Once it is writ to paper it becomes 'real'.
One of the problems with the "healthcare" debate is that healthcare is a matter of what is medically necessary. How is medically necessary defined. Here in the USA, medically necessary is practically defined as "a prescription from a doctor". In "social" healthcare states you offset this issue by limiting the resources available to provide the service. I get a prescription for massages, now I get to stand in line for a massage. Here the insurance company is "expected" to cover medically necessary activities. Massages, Chiropractic, etc are covered by many. All you have to do is get a scrip.
Healthcare has two sides. People needing healthcare and people providing healthcare services. That piece of paper with the death rate for a country is little more than a scrip begging for money...
- That's a very intelligent quote you open with
- almost every news story these days originates from a left or right wing PR agency (activist,union, SIG company, gov etc.) And they know that geting their message down on paper is the first step to changing what is truth.
- But maybe your end message has gone over my head
I can see that Ghana's health stats are analogous to your prescription. And we might hype your own complaints to get a bigger treatment package ..cos I really need that spa treatment & massage etc.
But surely they really do need that malaria medicine more than us ? and wouldn't that lead to objective scientists fudging the figures..even if the aid system is monumentally inefficient, cos the underlying problem is cultural attitudes and it's a bit much to come in from outside & start changing a countries culture ... However that's what missionaries do I suppose