Saturday, July 12, 2008

More statistical idiocy

McQ linked to a study by a University of Alabama researcher and another from Harvard Medical School: "for every 10 percent increase in gas prices there was a 2.3 percent decline in auto deaths."

As the University of Alabama reported:
An analysis of yearly vehicle deaths compared to gas prices found death rates drop significantly as people slow down and drive less. If gas remains at $4 a gallon or higher for a year or more, traffic deaths could drop by more than 1,000 per month nationwide, said Michael Morrisey, Ph.D., director of UAB's Lister Hill Center for Health Policy and a co-author on the new findings.
Someone tell this to the Democrats! They're all in agreement that $4 per gallon gasoline is hurting Americans. And after decades of preventing us from drilling and building new refineries, they're trying to shift blame to Bush.

This should be a debate question for Obama and McCain to answer. "A study suggested high gas prices can be good because they help reduce traffic fatalities. Do you think high gas prices can be a good thing?" Obama no doubt would say that lower traffic fatalities are a benefit, that they encourage us to use more alternative fuels, but how can he reconcile that with every time he and other Dems say, "Higher prices are hurting Americans"?
"It is remarkable to think that a percent change in gas prices can equal lives saved, which is what our data show," Morrisey said. "For every 10 percent rise in gas prices, fatalities are reduced by 2.3 percent. The effects are even more dramatic for teen drivers."
When I first saw this as a news article elsewhere (can't find it right now), it explained that higher prices reduce overall fatalities in part by discouraging younger drivers. They're overall the least-experienced drivers, tend to be in more accidents, and tend to have lower incomes. Also, drivers overall are slowing down to conserve gasoline.

OK, so let's impose taxes on gasoline to increase the prices by 4348 percent. At that point, it will reduce fatalities by 100%! And how about if prices go up 4349 percent and higher -- does that mean we'll start bringing people back from the dead?

Am I being unfair here? Hardly. The very study is based on their own "extrapolation," and their use of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. I'm merely using their own idiocy against them, particularly the dishonest method of taking 2006 behavior (when gas prices were getting high but nowhere as significant to Americans' budgets) and applying it to 2008:
The research included death rates and gas-price changes from 1985 through 2006, and the calculated percent reduction in fatalities can be extrapolated to 2008 and beyond, Morrisey said.

The results come after earlier research by the coauthors found lower gas prices have the opposite effect by wiping away many of lifesaving outcomes from the enactment of mandatory seatbelt laws, lower blood alcohol limits and graduated drivers licenses for youth.
So never mind people's ability to transact peacefully with each other at a price they agree on. We can't allow low gas prices because they offset our cars' safety features and regulations designed to protect us!
The UAB-Harvard findings did show the more restrictive graduated license programs helped reduce traffic deaths by 24 percent among drivers aged 15 to 17.
Let's "extrapolate" out on a limb, to mix a metaphor a little. If we don't license anyone aged 15 to 17, will that completely prevent them from dying or causing others to die? Of course not. It will be as effective as suspending or revoking drunk drivers' licenses.

This is why "extrapolation" is usually so stupid, especially by studies with an agenda to promote. Pay attention here.
The research was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
That's all we need to know: like many academic researchers today, they found data and massaged it to justify what the sponsor wants. This foundation is another leftist organization that supports control over our lives, from socialized medicine to making sure our kids eat only "healthy" food. Take a look at some headlines from their site:

"McCain Health Care Plan Would Lead to More People Dropping Employer Coverage"
"Opinion: Health Care Costs Must be Controlled and Coverage Expanded"
"Some San Franciscans are Frustrated by Slow Pace of Health Care Program Expansion"
"On The Road To Universal Coverage"
"Employment-Based Health Benefits Under Universal Coverage"
"Falling Behind: Americans' Access to Medical Care Deteriorates"
"Disparities in Health and Health Care among Medicare Beneficiaries"

I'm immediately skeptical of anything that such busybodies and their "researchers" tell me.


Blogger Adamgv said...

Those who raise gas prices are already killing our children. Take back our country! Acquire the Red Alert Newsletter.

Sunday, July 27, 2008 11:09:00 PM  
Blogger Perry Eidelbus said...

Raising gas prices?

Oh, you mean the likes of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, my congressman John Hall, and all the other tree-hugging envirowhores who won't let Americans drill where there's oil. Gotcha.

Sunday, July 27, 2008 11:15:00 PM  

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