Thursday, April 18, 2013

1968 Old Truths

Read an interesting article the other day that showed quite clearly how we can get confused by statistics. Or at least by how you phrase things.
It reminded me of the time a couple of years ago when someone was going on and on about seniors being the fastest growing sector of Facebook adopters. The actual number of seniors using Facebook was still a tiny percent of total users. It was just growing faster.
It's up from 2 to 4! Why, it's growing 100%!
The article I read was titled, in big bold letters, "A Dementia Epidemic". It went on to say, "An alarming new report by the Alzheimer's Association shows that one in three seniors have dementia when they die. And deaths from the disease increased nearly 70% between 2000 and 2010."
Land o' Goshen, what will we do? The article goes on to quote neuroscientist Maria Carrillo, who says, "It's an epidemic and currently there's no way to cure it."
That's true---unless we can cure old age. Because the truth is, since people aren't dying as early from cancer and stroke and heart disease, they are living into their own senility. Dementia has risen precisely because people are living longer. Interestingly, later in the article, they say exactly that. Age-related dementia is on the rise because age is on the rise.
And age is on the rise because we have cured other things. And cleaned up our water and sewage systems too. Using this article's histrionics as a model, you might as well say clean water causes dementia.
Dementia is a sad thing. And early onslaught Alzheimer's needs more research. But despite the confusing and scary title we're not having a dementia epidemic.
We're having an age epidemic.
America, ya gotta love it.

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