A couple of fun posts about research. (Did I really just write that?)
First, Tyler Cowen reviews a widely cited study:
In 1991 Halpern and Coren published a famous study in the New England Journal of Medicine which appears to show that left handed people die at much younger ages than right-handed people. Halpern and Coren had obtained records on 987 deaths in Southern California–we can stipulate that this was a random sample of deaths in that time period–and had then asked family members whether the deceased was right or left-handed. What they found was stunning, left handers in their sample had died at an average age of 66 compared to 75 for right handers. If true, left handedness would be on the same order of deadliness as a lifetime of smoking. Halpern and Coren argued that this was due mostly to unnatural deaths such as industrial and driving accidents caused by left-handers living in a right-handed world. The study was widely reported at the time and continues to be regularly cited in popular accounts of left handedness (e.g. Buzzfeed, Cracked).
There was a correlation, but no causation. Read the real deal here.
Next, The Washington Post has a post about how to argue with research you don’t like.
- Sinister Statistics: Do Left Handed People Die Young? (marginalrevolution.com)
- Do left-handers really die young? (bbc.co.uk)
- Do left-handed people really die young:What’s your verdict? (graciousgracegardens.wordpress.com)
One thought on “Consuming research”
Made me smile. The worrying thing about the points in ‘how to argue’ is that I am adept at all of them!
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