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Math Help - Tricky theory about life span and initials..real?

  1. #1
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    Tricky theory about life span and initials..real?

    so i am trying to analyze this article and determine if it is the right application of statistisc or if there a better explanation of the data.
    the article reads..

    "People with initials such as ACE, JOY or GOD are likely to live longer than those whose names spell out words like APE, MAD or RAT, a study suggests. The study, done by researchers from the Univ. of California at San Diego, looked at thousands of death certificates of people who died in California from 1969 through 1997.
    The study found 11 "good" sets of initials and 19 "bad" ones... All in all, men with WINing initials lived 4.48 years longer than a control group of people with neutral or ambiguous monograms, while DUDs, BUGs and such died an average of 2.8 years earlier than a control group."

    It just seems this is a wrong application of statistics since the number of death certificates looked at were not mentioned and there is overall not enough data.

    any thoughts or theories if this is the right application of statistics?
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  2. #2
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    Well sample size is always important.

    You mentioned 'thousands', how many thousands exactly? what is the population being tested? Is it just California?

    Could you perform a t-test for difference in mean life span between the {ACE, JOY or GOD} and {APE, MAD or RAT} groups. Or if you want to include the other group maybe ANOVA analysis?
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  3. #3
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    a lot of what you asked is not in the article which is why I would concluded that this is an application of statistics but not a very accurate one...if that makes sense.
    the fact that there were 11 "good" sets and 19 "bad" sets out of thousands of initials sounds like coincidence

    also, who determines what are good initials and what are bad initials. some people may think APE is positive if they like wildlife...

    but i think you're right when it comes to sample size, if they would have at least 100,000 samples and more information on the data geographically it would help
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