rant on misused stats

. .

The following is a review of the book Freakonomics that I found on the Amazon.com website. It's the basis of my rant today. Deceptive statistics and numbers.

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
Fascinating, Entertaining, and Thought-provoking , March 17, 2006
Reviewer: Dr. Marilyn R. Barry (Minneapolis, USA) - See all my reviews

The book is engaging and surprisingly humorous read, which opened my mind to a whole new way of looking at the world. It was fascinating to see the synthesis between economics and our everyday lives. Events which seem disconnected or driven by other influences are revealed with great clarity as having basic economic principles behind them.

I can give you an example. Every part starts with an interesting question. Let's say: "What is the hidden cause of obesity in the USA? It is followed by numbers. As a PH.D in Sexuality I can tell you that there are more than 20+ million impotent American men. Many of them are married and their wives are equally, if not more sexually dissatisfied. This results in emotional eating, depression, alcoholism, smoking, etc abuses. Does this have economical effect? Of course yes, because only the blue pill's production earns billions. What can be done? I recommend to my clients staying up-to-date with the latest scientific discoveries revealed in bestsellers such as "Scientifically guarantee male multiple orgasm and ultimate sex" by Alan Ritz.

The book reads as six articles from a quality magazine. Their questions will challenge you, their answers may provoke you, but the book is entertaining, thought-provoking and will likely change the way you view the world around you.
Marilyn R. Barry Ph. D in Sexuality

My problem with this is that the number 20 million hurts my common sense facility. Now don't take the following numbers as gospel--I'm just guessing and not looking them up or anything.

Let's say that there's 300 million people in the USA. Now typically around half a population is below the age of 18 and add in the elderly and you have say 40% of the population at an age where they can reproduce. So we're talking around 120 million. About half of those are women so now we have the number 60 million men as being in the targeted class for impotence. So if we're to believe that 20 million of them are impotent--then that's a third of all men. I really don't believe that a third of all men can't have erections.

So does that mean that Marilyn Barry is trying to deceive us? Well, that all depends. Therapists and others that make money off of that sort of thing define "impotence" a little differently from You and I--and the dictionary, for that matter. I think it all started with the pharmaceutical industry but in any case in that field impotence is defined a little differently so that a suitably large pool of patients can be generated. After all, people won't invest in companies unless there's a liklihood of big profits and that only comes when there's a large population of patients.

Anyway, impotence is defined in that area as any man that has had a sexual experience that wasn't good. Obviously not having an erection would certainly qualify--but coming too quickly also does. Or having a bad partner or any of a hundred other causes. Pretty slick, huh? Suddenly we're not talking a couple million customers--we're talking 20 million! Ka-ching!

Impotence isn't the only area for this medical dodge either. Prozac and depression was another similar situation. The normal medical definition for depression took a back door to the more profitable situation of diagnosing anti-depression meds for anyone that felt blue or out of sorts.

The end result, of course, is that this approach worked. Worked great, in fact. Both classes of drugs, led by Viagra and Prozac but with plenty of similar products, are huge money makers.

And on a secondary rant--that book review is really nothing but a plug for her practice. There's really nothing about the book in it just a superficial description of the format. LOL Which is in a way appropriate because the book, Freakanomics, while quite entertaining, is a little short on substance also. But that's another rant....


Michelle said…
I find it interesting that much of the public never bothers to do their homework or read between the lines when it comes to stuff like this. They just believe it all as gospel, next thing $$$$$$$$$
WendyWings said…
Most people will just accept the numbers without actually thinking it through like you did. That is what they are counting on , the majority not the Utenzi's out there.
Michele sent me today :)
Electric Short said…
LilRed said…
Rant on, Utenzi! Rant on!

Here from Michele's, by the way.
Robin said…
You're right, I probably would have just accepted those spoon fed statistics myself. They sound so...official...coming from XXX, Phd. But, I suppose that is the point! I'm here from Michele's today, hope you have a great weekend!
Karen said…
Interesting. I think my hubby was feeling the same way about this, but I'll have to ask him. He started reading it but didn't finish. Perhaps this is why!

Love your new blog design. Michele sent me. Thanks for stopping by my place.
Yaeli said…
At least there's a lot of happy men with hard ons walking around this wonderful drug ridden world of ours!

Soon we'll have a pill to cure everything. Too bad self esteem and contentment will never available on the market.
Pearl said…
Good to get your take on it. I flipped though Freakonomics and it seemed layman anecdotal but with Chapter's vigilant police, ahem, I mean, staff, it's hard to get a proper sense of it. I expect to read it when it gets to me. Only 80 or so people ahead of me on the library request list now.
Ciera said…
Imagine that
Sandy said…
I always enjoy getting a 'real' person's viewpoint on a book. Thanks for sharing yours.

michele sent me
Sue said…
Thanks for visiting my site :) -- as for your rant - the exaggeration of most of society (oops I did it too now didn't I LOL) makes me crazy. Why deceive us if there is substance behind the point you are trying to make?
I love the Absolut picture!
stebbijo said…
I so agree with you regarding your stance regarding pharmecuticals and their tactics ---- exploiting normal conditions while they break down the general populations ego strengh through bogus advertizing so they can make the big bucks. Totally ticks me off. Give me a shopping cart so I can ram it down their throats! ;-)

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