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Author: Briggs

December 28, 2008 | 6 Comments

(Ex-Army Captain) Kyle Smith gets his statistics right

Mull this one carefully. Say a mammogram is 90 percent accurate at spotting patients with breast cancer, and 93 percent accurate at spotting those without breast cancer. Breast cancer afflicts 0.8 percent of women tested. Your mammogram comes back positive. How likely is it that you have breast cancer?

Less than 10 percent, says “The Numbers Game” (Gotham), a chatty, brief, brightly informative and quite possibly essential book by a pair of blokish Brits (not statisticians or mathletes).

This number won’t be surprising to those who read that wonderful text Breaking the Law of Averages.

Read the whole book review here.

Pay especial attention to the examples at the end.

21%:An extra ounce of bacon a day increased the chance of colon cancer by this much in men, according to the American Institute of Cancer Research. While a huge percentage, it neglected to mention what that increase meant in raw numbers. Turns out, five men out of 100 get colorectal cancer in their lifetime. Bacon-eating increased it to six.

December 26, 2008 | 7 Comments

Civil rights group files suit against TBS network to stop showing A Christmas Story

Controversial civil rights group ISEF yesterday filed suit in federal court against Turner Broadcasting and its cable affiliate TBS to cease airing the movie A Christmas Story. For several years, TBS has showed the popular movie non-stop over a twenty-four hour period on Christmas day.

“It is shocking in this day and age, given all we know about the horrors of gun ownership, that TBS can irresponsibly inundate the public with these images,” said ISEF spokesperson Martin Baumlot. “This appalling movie is a fetishization of weaponry and an attempt to instill in children the false idea that guns can be used for other things besides murder.”

According to court documents, ISEF claims that the movie A Christmas Story is “nothing but one child’s irrational obsession with a gun. In the movie, he even imagines himself using the gun to kill several people. There is a disturbing image of bodies stacked like cordwood that is chilling in its graphic intensity.”

Well known film expert Dr H. Harrister from the Institute for the Very Clever, said that “While the ISEF’s claim has some basis—the film’s protagonist Ralphie does dispatch several bad guys—that scene is nothing more than humorous dramatization of youthful fantasy.” The scene is one in which noted criminal “Black Bart” attempts an invasion of Ralphie’s home.

When asked about ISEF’s assertion that the film “goes beyond the obsessive mania for gun possession, and enters the realm of sick perversion as we actually see Ralphie go to bed with the weapon, lovingly caressing it as he drifts off the sleep, fantasizing once more about the brutal murder of our winged friends, the duck”, Dr Harrister was unable to provide a response as he choked on his hot dog.

Dr Harrister did later provide email commentary. “The people at ISEF have clearly lost their minds.”

A spokesman for TBS refused comment while this matter is being litigated.

The group It’s Somebody Else’s Fault was founded in 1984 by a group of Upper West Side Manhattan residents intent on proving that anything bad that happens is somebody else’s fault.