Friday, 18 May 2012

Beat the reaper

The international media leapt on a study which found a lower rate of mortality amongst coffee drinkers today. Is it true? I don't know, but I appreciated this mild correction at the bottom of the LA Times' report.

[For the Record, 1:13 p.m. PDT May 17: The headline on an earlier version of this post said, "A study that tracked health and coffee consumption finds that coffee-drinkers had a lower risk of death." The headline has been rewritten to note that the finding concerned rates of death only during the time of the study.]

It may seem pedantic, but I wish journalists would stop writing about a 'lower risk of death' when reporting on epidemiological studies. What they mean is that the intervention group is likely to live longer, which is not only a more accurate description but is also a more useful explanation of the findings.

The findings themselves may still be nonsense—as very many epidemiological findings are—but there are enough people indulging themselves in an eternal life fantasy without encouraging them with silly headlines.

6 comments:

Ben said...

You are right - the risk of death for every living being on this planet is invariably 100%.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to get another cup ...

Anonymous said...

Coffee.
Much better with a cigarette.

nonplussed said...

Some of the latest “cutting-edge” work of one of the leading intellects [giggle] of out time. From the University of Califraudia – Stantonitis The Mechanic Glands:

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-05-17/cigarette-smoker-body-language?chan=lifestyle+channel_etc

Junican said...

Not pedantic at all. If these studies purport to be accurate science, then they should make accurate statements.

Aika said...

True! lol
hope your voice will be heard!

Anonymous said...

I suspect the Japanese, who drink very little coffee and live rather longer than most, are very amused by all this.

Gary K.