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Monday, May 04, 2009

The problem with statistics: Quote of the Day on 'The Swine Flu Pandemic'



"Averages don’t tell you very much. You could have a student transmitting to 15 others, while the average in Queens is 0.1. It’s like putting Bill Gates down in Ethiopia and saying the country has a pretty high average income."


DR. DIRK BROCKMANN
, leader of the epidemic-modeling team at Northwestern University.

NB: 10 Days off of Purgatory for anyone who can tell me what the heck an 'epidemic-modeling team' might be.

14 comments:

Jim said...

They are a group of statisticians, medics and programmers who produce a computer model of how the disease is working through a life cycle. I have done that sort of programming, it is very difficult.

FWIW
jimB

Frair John said...

I was the secretary for a group like that once. Very fun, if challenging work.

Lot's of modeling and mathematical work. they are the chief reason why I carry Purel in my book bag.

An working example of some of this kind of work is here.

David |Dah • veed| said...

They try on different diseases to see how they look. Eventually they develop it all into a fashion show so we all know the most fashionable diseases for the new season.

It is all so very chic.

Bill said...

No Jim, an epidemic modeling team is a group of very young, very slim boys and girls who work the cat walk in various outfits. They usually group the outfits by time of day. My favorites are epidemic evening wear and of course, epidemic sports wear. I draw the line at pandemic wear. That would entail far too many people wearing the same outfits. That is far too common for my taste.

Utah Savage said...

I have come to tell you that I gave you an award. I hope you aren't cursing me now.

Paul (A.) said...

Pandemic wear can only be worn in the forest.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Okay, y'all get time off from Purgatory, but I'm giving an additional 5 years to Dahveed and Bill - the pandemic fashionistas.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Oh, and an extra 5 for Paul A for being quite clever.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I would never curse you, U.S. I am honored.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

I think more specifically, it's Haz-Mat fashion, all the way from the paper aprons to the white latex gloves for summer wear. Perhaps floral print masks and paper shoe covers.

(the word verification is "protedac"--that sounds like a brand of haz-mat clothing!")

Allie said...

I simply think the notion that diseases get marketed is rather frightening. While I acknowlege that things like AIDS at times have needed to be repackaged, I feel that news used to be facts about which we could draw our own opinions, and now they are taglines around which we can try to find our own facts. or something like that.

So would pandemic wear only be in back and white?

Jim said...

Jim considers pouting....

FWIW
jimB

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Okay, Jim, you get five additional years because the work "is very difficult". Stop pouting.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Kirke and Allie - very clever. Five additional years and another five for not pouting like Jim.