Why People Don't Understand Risks
Yesterday's Minneapolis Star Tribune had the front-page headline: "Co-sleeping kills about 20 infants each year." (The headline in the web article is different.) The only problem is, in either case, there's no additional information with which to make sense of the statistic.
How many infants don't die each year? How many infants die each year in separate beds? Is the death rate for co-sleepers greater or less than the death rate for separate-bed sleepers? Without this information, it's impossible to know whether this statistic is good or bad.
But the media rarely provides context for the data. The story is in the aftermath of an incident where a baby was accidentally smothered in his sleep.
Oh, and that 20-infants-per-year number is for Minnesota only. No word as to whether the situation is better or worse in other states.
Posted on July 7, 2009 at 1:50 PM • 73 Comments