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As we saw in Atlanta, people will do all sorts of things, good and bad, to reach targets. Data can be very pliable.
Gerald Grob, Professor of the History of Medicine Emeritus at Ritgers University, published a book in 2014 titled: AGING BONES: A SHORT HISTORY OF OSTEOPOROSIS. It includes the following example of the creative use of statistics.
Grob analyzed clinical trials of such drugs as Fosamax. He wrote to tell me, “Merck reported a 50% reduction in hip fractures, and the drug made billions for the company. The 50% figure, of course, was the relative reduction, which has no meaning. The absolute reduction was from 2.2% in the placebo group to 1.1% in the treated group. The absolute reduction was this 1.1%, a hardly impressive statistic. Moreover, it did not take into account the adverse effects of the drug. Above all, it ignored the fact that about three-quarters of all hip fractures occur among people with normal bone mineral density for their age and result from falls.”
Fun with numbers!