The ‘Health Ranger’ Fails Statistics 101

[BPSDB] Mike ‘Health DRanger’ Adams is at it again – this time claiming that being vaccinated increases ones chances of catching the disease. All he demonstrates is that he does not understand simple statistics.

Here he says:-

Just this week, an outbreak of mumps among more than 1,000 people in New Jersey and New York has raised alarm among infectious disease authorities. The outbreak itself is not unusual, though. What’s unusual is that the health authorities slipped up and admitted that most of the people infected with mumps had already been vaccinated against mumps.

In Ocean County, New Jersey, county spokeswoman Leslie Terjesen told CNN that 77 percent of those who caught mumps had already been vaccinated against mumps.

Terjesen did not “slip up” and was likely quoting from a Government report such as this one from the Centre for Disease Control which says that as of 29 January there were 1521 cases, of whom 75% had received two doses of vaccine.

From this, Adams concludes that the vaccinated are much more likely to get ill:-

Vaccines may actually increase your risk of disease. Notice that far more vaccinated children were stricken with mumps than non-vaccinated children?

This is a classic misunderstanding of statistics. We need to compare the incidence of infection amongst the vaccinated and unvaccinated to draw any conclusions on risk.

First off, how many children are there in New Jersey? I could not find the total but according to this there are 556,673 children aged 0 to 4 and 782,926 aged 5 to 11. Assuming that the birth rate in New Jersey is roughly constant, I estimate that there are approximately two million children in the state.

According to this the vaccination coverage rate is 85%. This means 1.7 million vaccinated and 300,000 not.

Back to the CDC figures; 1140 were fully vaccinated i.e among the vaccinated 67 per 100,000 caught the disease whereas amongst the unvaccinated 127 per 100,000 caught the disease. In other words, being fully vaccinated cuts your risk of catching the disease by almost half.

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5 Responses to “The ‘Health Ranger’ Fails Statistics 101”

  1. Dumbass Says:

    Absolutely one of those statistical lessons that really needs to be taught in schools! So many people don’t understand that you need to put these kinds of numbers in their proper context in order to make a truly valid comparison.

    This kind of mistake is extremely rampant. In the news all the time I hear that “X% of people with condition Y have risk factor Z”… okay, great, but what’s the percentage of people with risk factor Z versus those without risk factor Z who have condition Y? That’s the real question!

  2. endlesspsych Says:

    The man is a dangerous crank.

    Going to be profiling him for the twenty-first floor next week for a series of “Meet the Nutters” articles…

    Wondering what to keep in and what to leave out!

  3. jdc325 Says:

    Nice spot. I caught someone doing something similar and blogged it here: anti-vaccination claims and I think Becky of the jabsloonies blog has similar examples.

    In the example I saw, the claim that “85.9% of children with whooping cough (pertussis) were fully immunised” was made without giving readers any clue as to how this should be interpreted. There just wasn’t enough information to make the statistic meaningful. There’s a paper here that compares the relative risks for vaccinated and unvaccinated children.

  4. jaycueaitch Says:

    Thanks for the link. I knew as soon as I read Adams’ outpourings that I’d seen this argument refuted before about other cases. Definitely a PRATT.

  5. A Third Year of Steam « Letting Off Steam Says:

    […] woo was much in evidence; antivaccination propoganda was as prevailant as ever. We had Mike Adams mangling statistics to ‘prove’ that vaccination increased ones chances of catching mumps. The WDDTY website […]

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