Damn Lies and Statistics

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A recent article on cancer myths, distributed online by Johns Hopkins and flagged by Yahoo as a Number 1 story, bewails the fact that 390/0 of the American populace believes that you’re more likely to get lung cancer because you live in a “polluted city” than because you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day.

How did this preposterous idea take hold? The reporters of the statistic – the authors of a survey undertaken for the American Cancer Society – blame the victims. They “point to studies showing that people who engage in behaviors like smoking or unprotected sun exposure tend to underestimate their own personal risks from these choices, despite their knowing of the risk to the general public.”

Well, maybe. But what accounts for their belief that air “pollution” is worse than cigarettes? Where could they possibly have gotten that silly idea? Could it have been from the environmental”activists” (i.e., cranks) who ceaselessly preach the doctrine of “second-hand smoke,” industrial “befoulment,” and the demon automobile?

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