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- A tumblr site dedicated to the people and places that make up Oregon and Southwest Washington.
I believe that much of the controversy around screening tests are based on an inability to intuitively understand statistics. A great article in Scientific American Mind earlier this year awakened me to this fact. (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=knowing-your-chances)
When given the stats for breast cancer frequency and the false-positive rate for mammograms, 160 gynecologists were asked "What is the chance that a woman with a positive result on a mammogram actually has breast cancer?"
From four choices, 60 percent of the gynecologists answered that there was a 81 or 90 percent chance the woman has breast cancer. Only 20 percent of the gynecologists did the math correctly, yielding the correct answer that the woman has only a 10 percent chance of having cancer. 9 out of 10 women, in this hypothetical example based on real statistics, would be unnecessarily alarmed, and their alarm would would be compounded by their physician's lack of proper statistical perspective. Not to blame physicians (I am one who would have answered wrong before I read the article), but rather to point out the dearth of statistical literacy that is present in our society.
posted 3 years, 6 months ago
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