May 24, 2012
"Property values may point to likelihood of obesity", or the other way around
One of my pet peeves with the mainstream media is the tendency to misreport and sensationalize freshly published scientific journal articles. Anytime you see a news story about a science study that interests you, double-check the news account against the original science paper. Especially when the study relates to some area of health or public policy. There's a good chance the reporter either didn't read or didn't understand the paper and misrepresented its findings. There's also a good chance the science itself is seriously flawed.
So with that in mind, I introduce a new Sound Politics feature to highlight examples of unsound science appearing in the news media.
AP Reporter Donna Gordon Blankinship in today's article:
The value of your home may be a stronger predictor of your weight than the genes inherited from your ancestors, a new public health study from the University of Washington has found.
The study found no such thing.
The study, "Residential property values are associated with obesity among women in King County, WA, USA" says nothing about genes. At most it uses broad categories of ethnicity as a 'control' variable. The abstract states that property value "may be a ... better predictor of obesity" than self-reported education and income. But it reports no evidence of prediction. At most it finds an association between home property value and obesity among women. In the conclusion the authors acknowledge:
given the study's cross-sectional design we cannot discount reverse causality. Obese persons, especially women, face discrimination, which may reduce economic opportunities through employment.
Another plausible factor the authors didn't consider is marital status. I would think it at least worth raising the questions (a) whether married couples tend to have higher home values than single persons, and (b) whether obese women have a different prevalence of marriage than non-obese women.
News organizations should really run these journal articles by disinterested experts before they report on them.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at May 24, 2012
08:51 PM | Email This
1. Hey Stefan... have you ever noticed how, when all the trees get together and wiggle their limbs, it causes wind?
The Left hates science. They are far more about power and their agenda. For example, here's the proof that the Yamal tree study used to create the famous Hockey Stick graph
that supposedly linked CO2 rise to temperature was all a fraud.
But as with their Bush hatred, the Left is still bitter and clinging to the anti-science of climate change.
And then there's the new paper by Henrik Svensmark, 15 years in the making, that shows pretty conclusively that by far the greatest factor in earth's climate is the solar systems position in the Milky Way galaxy. As we go in and out of the spiral arms of the Milky Way, we get more of less cosmic ray bombardment from Supernovae, which is the seeding needed for more cloud cover. This study correlates nearly perfectly with all known climate history and much more so than any study of tree rings that selectively cherry picks single trees to get an apocalyptic result.
But hey, Leftists are gullible and will believe anything. They also believe that Solar and Wind are soon to provide for all of our energy needs.
You can teach people who want to learn. But you can't teach attitude. Leftists have an entirely broken philosophy, world view and attitude. They really believe that humans will be motivated by the collective, and that forcing redistribution on their fellow man and pitting man against himself will achieve a better result.
We know from empirical evidence that a society in which man is encouraged to work hard, find meritorious pursuits that allow him to trade with his fellow man and to view his fellow man, not as someone who has more than he does, but instead as someone with whom he can engage in commerce, always leads to a better result.
But since when do Leftists ever let facts get in the way? And thus Obama's socialism marches on.
Perhaps more worrisome is their conclusion that "discrimination" is at least as likely an explanation for apparent poverty among the obese.
Why are they hesitant about insisting causation, but cavalier about offering up PC shibboleths as equally plausible explanations?
Among the list of explanations more plausible than the nauseatingly fashionable "discrimination" canard: how about health problems? Some conduce obesity, can be financially punishing to fight, etc.
Or God forbid we consider that obesity might be a physical expression of a lack of motivation pervasive in someone's life.
Discrimination is an all-purpose apology for one's lack of achievements. I'm white, shorter than 6 feet and have probably logged fewer than 100 hours playing basketball. But I'd like to get paid $25 million a year and play alongside Kobe with the Lakers, so I'm just going to say I was blackballed because of my race. Or I'm just garbage at basketball. But for some, the former is an easier pill to swallow, even if it puts you out there in Wonka Land.
A great metaphor for the state of the academic community today: indefatigable in their truth-seeking, at least until their findings contradict prevailing PC knowledge. Tell me: if you're going to allow PC orthodoxy to be the determining factor in your research, what's the point of going through the trouble of doing the research in the first place? How pointless and unusable.
Reminds me of the great Andrew Ferguson article in The Weekly Standard recently, "The New Phrenology" about how liberals and secularists have begun contriving ludicrous and completely unscientific studies to pathologize and stigmatize political and social conservatism. Read it here:
4. "Property values may point to likelihood of obesity"
So, I guess obese Seattle is celebrating falling property values....
I can hardly contain my eye roll.
5. echo chamber anyone? Obama's a muslism socialist from Kenya? If we want to be taken seriously then drop the hyperbole and stick to the facts.