Monday, March 20, 2006



A special message from our friends at the(I received this via email):

Only one in seven survive lung cancer. Help us change the odds.

Dear Christopher ,

Some 173,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year. Tragically, within a five year period, nearly 85% of these individuals will die from this disease. Together we can change these grim statistics and save lives.

Right now the American Lung Association is sponsoring major studies on promising treatments that can extend life and eventually cure those who acquire this disease. Learn more about our work.

Did you know that lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide? What causes this deadly disease?

>>Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer. The more and longer you smoke, the greater your risk. But if you stop smoking your lung cancer risk decreases each year.

If you are a smoker or someone you care about is a smoker, help them stop. Learn more about the American Lung Association's smoking cessation programs.

>> Radon is considered to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. Radon is a colorless, odorless gas, so you must measure its level in your home.

Help protect your family from radon gas. Get the facts from the American Lung Association.

>> Secondhand smoke involuntarily inhaled by nonsmokers is responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths annually in American non-smokers.

Find out more about what you can do to reduce the effects of Secondhand smoke.

Shocking to most Americans is the fact that 10% to 15% of the men and women diagnosed with lung cancer are non-smokers.

More people will die from lung cancer than the next three leading cancers -- colon, breast and prostate -- combined.

Please make a special tax-deductible donation to give us the resources to beat this disease.

We have been working since 1904 to prevent lung disease and promote lung health across the US. Not only did the American Lung Association help conquer tuberculosis, the scientists we have supported during the last century have made important breakthroughs in treating lung cancer.

Let's work together to protect all those we care about from this deadly disease.

Thank you for your support.

John F. "Jack" Sutter
American Lung Association Chair

I will give bonus points to anyone who can figure out the problem with this letter (other than the obvious)!!

I don't know the validity of the statistics given, nor do I have the inclination to particularly check them. However, the rhetoric they are wrapped in and the ambiguity it brings is intellectually disconcerting. If I remember one thing from AP Stat way back when, it's the fact that you can always make statistics say anything you want, when presented in a certain fashion.

Also, "Shocking to most Americans is the fact that 10% to 15% of the men and women diagnosed with lung cancer are non-smokers" seemed humorous.

If I venture a guess as to what particular problem you're referring to: the amount of inferences the message relies on?
The numbers don't add up.

If 173,000 will be diagnosed per year;
And 10-15% of those are non-smokers;
And only 1 in 7 people survive lung cancer;

We should have somewhere between 14,500 and 21,800 deaths per year in non-smokers from lung cancer - not 3000.

I'm sure there are more problems, but this one was glaring.

Also, because I'm heartless, I'll mention that 3000 Americans is not even a drop in the bucket, considering the population of 300 million.
It is more like a droplette (added diminutive effect)


That is one one-thousandths of a percent.
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