Thursday, July 18, 2013

Manipulating Life Expectancy: "News" for Political Gain

Background

(AP) July 18, 2013  Golden years shorter, sicker in Southern states
If you're 65 and living in Hawaii, here's some good news: Odds are you'll live another two decades. And for a good chunk of those years, you'll likely be in pretty good health.  Hawaii tops the charts in the government's first state-by-state look at how long Americans age 65 can expect to live and how many of those remaining years will be healthy ones.
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Is this politically-motivated propaganda by the Obama administration to win the mid-term (2014) congressional elections?  Here is how: Manipulate decades old trends to appear more alarming; frighten senior citizens in the South; frighten white women without high school diplomas; prevent Hawaians from becoming frightened before 2014 elections, and; provide a feedback mechanism for "Obama-phone" users to encourage enthusiastic participation in next year's elections.

Evidence
  •  Manipulate decades old mortality trends to appear more alarming.  Map from 2000 (13 years ago) essentially reflected the same data as the "new" report.  source
  
  • Frighten senior citizens in the South
Because the 2013 report (today's news) is based, in part, on Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data collected from 2007–2009, it is neither scientific nor newCDC's disclaimer (note 1).
  • Frighten white women without high school diplomas  [color emphasis mine]
 Life Spans Shrink for Least-Educated Whites in the U.S. - Sep 20, 2012, NYT
However, the NYT article is another case of unscientific conclusion (sloppiness) or prpoaganda for political purposes:  
This would be a complete reversal of demographic trends over the past century or more and would indicate that something is very badly wrong at some point in the system. ... Previously we’ve been grouping them in with other white people who do not complete high school. That former group of white people who do not finish high school is now about halved as a percentage of the population. It is possible (and I emphasise, only possible) that those left in that group now are those who always had the shorter lifespans.  source: Tim Worstall, Falling Life Expectancy In the United States, Forbes 9/22/2012
  • Prevent Hawaians from becoming frightened before 2014 elections
In the 2000 scientific study (map source above), Hawaii had the highest life expectancy rate.   Again, today's news says:
 If you're 65 and living in Hawaii, here's some good news: Odds are you'll live another two decades. And for a good chunk of those years, you'll likely be in pretty good health.  Hawaii tops the charts in the government's first state-by-state look at how long Americans age 65 can expect to live and how many of those remaining years will be healthy ones.
But
Impact to US West Coast from Fukushima disaster likely larger than anticipated, several reports indicate  source
PREDICTION:  After the election (November 4, 2014) a federal agency will report health risks for citizens of Hawaii and California due to elevated Fukijima nuclear particulate exposures.
  • Provide a feedback mechanism for "Obama-phone" users to encourage enthusiastic participation in next year's elections.
The BRFSS survey was administered by landline telephone. After 2009, the BRFSS expanded surveys to include cellular respondents.
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 Note 1 (CDC Disclaimers)
 The findings in this report are subject to at least five limitations. First, BRFSS includes a self-assessed health status question, which might be influenced by age, sex, race/ethnicity, culture, and several social and behavior factors, resulting in rankings of health status that might be assessed inconsistently across demographic groups. However, self-reported health status questions, as used in BRFSS, have been shown to be a good predictor of future disability, hospitalization, and mortality (7–8). Second, possible misclassification of demographic information on the death certificate and misclassification because of the bridging procedure used to categorize persons of multiple race in the census data might have occurred. Third, the BRFSS median response rates in the low 50% raise the possibility of response bias. Fourth, BRFSS is a telephone interview-based survey that did not include persons without access to a landline telephone in its 2007–2009 surveys. Finally, state-specific HLE estimates might not be precise for small groups (especially blacks) by age and sex because of small BRFSS samples and low death counts in some states.  - source 3rd para of CDC Editorial Note
Submarines are always silent and strange.

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