Epidemiology is hard to follow.

*pete_d: Recalls bus ad for ‘Did you know that 1/5 people has genital herpes ?’ as a young man, teasing 5th kid in line that he was it. Because math. Something along the lines of ‘1, 2, 3, 4, Jacob has genital herpes !’
mircea_popescu: Such idiocy those ads.

asciilifeform: l0l and what of all the folks with arm and leg herpes ? They get no press.
mircea_popescu: I dunno why epidemiology is so hard to follow, but let’s add two and two together. Two one : The virus is not a new introduction. Two two : The virus is stable around 16-18% infections. What does this mean ? a) That infection is unrelated to exposure in any form ; b) That “fighting” pointless “battles” is the best way to waste public money in relative personal safety ; c) Canada is broadly illiterate. If you think about it, most newly introduced (ie, no equilibrium reached yet) infections go from 16% to 100% in two days. If it’s been 16% for a week, you don’t get it by fucking herpetic whores bareback, you get it from being genetically broken in that way.

Which brings us to the subject of today’s flaming idiocy : Eric Barker. You see, Eric fancies himself a populariser of potato research and a distributor of “science-based answers and expert insight on how to be awesome at life” for the oh-so-edumakated lots of mankind that find themselves regularly reading The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and Wired. In point of fact, Eric is a self-aggrandising knucklehead who deliberately misconstrues data – any data really, whatever’s at hand – so as to promote his myopic fantasies of how the world should work, rather than how it demonstrably does.

One of his latest lulzfests is entitled “5 Things You Need to Know About Alcohol, Backed By Research.i As a sterling example of just how hard epidemiology is for most people, even those with “degrees,” and how badly math can go wrong when in the hands of idjits, for your enlightenment and entertainment, let’s dig in:

Are you a mean drunk but don’t want to get into fights? Take Prozac.

Hell, are you “mean” ever ? Have you ever not been a perfect SJW gentleman who wears a pink lacy tutu and blackface out of sympathy for those who understand real struggle ? Take some prescription medication to numb your soul ! Then everyone will love you for the huggable teddy bear they really want you to be no matter the societal and economic cost !

And remind me why wouldn’t you want to get into a fight again ? Have we forgotten the practical necessity of violence ?ii

Just thinking about alcohol can increase aggressiveness.

Turns out that just thinking about retarded authors who misconstrue correlation as cause and effect can also increase aggressiveness. Science !

Force bars to close early and violent crime goes down.

This one is just too much nonsense.iii  In my not inconsiderable experience, North American bars, which typically close at 2:00am, are far more violent than European bars, which might close at 3:00am or 4:00am. Given the lack of refinement of North Americans in general, it’s no surprise that they try to cram as much drinking and as much over-the-top partying into as narrow a time frame as possible. Instead of the European style of casually enjoying a few drinks with dinner, then a few more afterwards at a stand-up bar nearby, then maybe another on a quiet park bench, and then finally going to the dance club from 2:00am until the sun rises, and then walking home, Americans have dinner at 5:30pm, watch TV for a few hours, start drinking heavily around 10:00pm, get properly cut, go to the bar from 12:00 – 2:00am and pound a few more unneeded drinks back while grinding up on some strange in the hope of “getting lucky,”iv then taking an Uber home, most often alone. Perhaps this is just my crazy lens.

You can predict the level of violence in an area just by looking at alcohol sales.

You can also predict whether S.MPOE is going to go up or down just by looking at its candle chart. Doesn’t mean your prediction will be accurate any more than looking at a pile of dead bodies will give you the ability to predict what their last meal was, on average. Additionally, places that suck always have a plethora of churches right next to bars, between which denizens alternate depending on which side of the bed they wake up on.

Vodka is more associated with homicide than beer or wine.

So Russian mobsters are more associated with homicide than fat ass sports fans and polite white collar professional. What of it ?

You drastically underestimate how much alcohol it would take for you to vomit or blackout.

You drastically underestimate my genetic stock and my tolerance accrued, not to mention the possible values of “you.”

Alcohol is the most harmful drug.

Meh, I’ll take the Talebian model and say that heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly paycheque are the most addictive and therefore the most harmful substances. Alcohol ? Really ?!

Letting your teenager drink at home while supervised is a terrible idea.

From experience, this is exactly backwards. Of course, this “science” is only from a female study group. Mebbe it’s cool if your teenager daughter drinks at my house but not at your house. I dunno. I don’t want to get too solipsistic.

Have a daughter, not a son.

Because having a daughter makes you consume less alcohol and tobacco, apparently. OMGERD !! GIRLS ARE BAD FOR CONSUMPTION AND THEREFORE BAD FOR THE ECONOMEEE !!!11 This must be why China is kicking the US’ ass economically. Not because they appreciate the world for the fundamentally hostile environment that it is.

Mild drinking during pregnancy can lead to smarter and healthier kids.

Not being a puritanical whore with rocks and Oprahisms rattling in your skull can also lead to smarter and healthier kids. So too can an understanding of disease-causing mechanisms and the benefits of selective moderation, not to mention knowing how to relax the fuck out once in a while.

Getting drunk makes you more think more politically conservative.

Sweet jeebus do we need the free market back ! Remind me to show you how to make tsuika in your bathtub sometime. It’ll do wonders for your local economy. And no, conservativism isn’t linked to “low-effort thinking” as the paper suggests, it’s linked to non-puritanical idealism, is all.

It’s easier to resist booze than checking email.

Ok. This one is sorta true, at least anecdotally. The Internet is pretty sweet in pretty much every way and it’s therefore really rather challenging to resist. What can I say, I’d rather give up wine than my 60 mpbs connection.

Men get more sexually aggressive when they drink because alcohol makes it hard for them to distinguish when women are being flirty vs friendly.

Ok, last one. This “men get more sexually aggressiveness” framing is clearly laden with a negative judgement, but it really needn’t be. In point of fact, in a social situation involving alcohol – say a house party or a nightclub – if a girl is being friendly (as opposed to just polite and well-groomed), she’s interested. Whether that’s the exact right time and right place to make your move is a separate consideration, but the door is open. You can do worse than plant some seeds of possibility so as to at least leave yourself the opportunity for future sexual relations, instead of just playing the castrated zeta boy who tucks it between his legs because erections are too “aggressive.”

Have a drink. Have fun. Unbutton that shirt. Loosen that tie. And don’t forget that numbers aren’t the same thing as the story they’re wrapped in.

___ ___ ___


  1. You’ll quickly note that there are dozens of “things you need to know” on Eric’s list, though through some arbitrary consideration, he’s aggregated them into five bullet points. How or why, we’ll never know for sure. Mebbe “69 misleading confirmations of things you thought you already knew and just needed the “research” to prove to your dinner friends that you did in fact know all along” was a bit much.
  2. Meditate on the idea that civilisation and culture require oppression sometime. You might be surprised to find that the state’s monopoly on force is therefore antithetical to the higher human pursuits of art, architecture, poetry, and beauty in all its forms.

    As a result, the nation state as we know must – and will, if I have anything to say about it – burn worse than Nero’s Rome, worse than Bludworth’s London, and worse than Meiji Tokyo. Combined.

  3. The conclusion is derived from comparing Hamilton with Newcastle, NSW, Australia. I’ll leave it to cazalla to confirm or deny their similarity, but I’ll be damned if I can think of two Canadian cities of 500,000 that would be in any way comparable for such an isolated variable.
  4. It really is a lottery, this approach.

14 thoughts on “Epidemiology is hard to follow.

  1. cazalla says:

    Newcastle, which is much like Wollongong (I grew up 45 minutes south of this now populated by 250k people city.) in that they were once major steel producing cities employing thousands upon thousands of locals but are now both what you might consider lil’ Detroits minus the niggers (the black kind anyway).

    Reported youth unemployment (newspapers, government numbers) in both areas runs from 10% on the low end up to 35%. It’s probably higher given the way in which the government fudges unemployment stats (people kicked off the dole or working for it [make work jobs], those in study but not working are not counted among the unemployed). What else is there for these people to do but drink, fuck and (not or) fight.

    On the face of it, it would at first appear that yes, lockouts and reduced hours reduce violent crime, after all assaults and arrests go down at the premises at which these measures take place. The problem with that is that the assaults and arrests just take place somewhere else.

    Example – Kings Cross introduced 1:30am lockouts and 3am last drinks a few years ago and alcohol related assaults and arrests dropped. That’s great for Kings Cross but the problem is that people looking to have a few drinks before engaging in some biff, random king hits and glassings just moved watering hole to the next suburbs over resulting in an increase of assaults and arrests in places like Petersham, Newtown and Glebe.

    So yes, it is misleading to say lockouts and reduced hours reduce crime but what police officer or politican is honest enough to get up and say they shifted the problem to an adjoining suburb.

    • Pete D. says:

      I was certainly more thinking of the measurement problem but you’re quite right to observe that the externalisation factor is equally present and equally invalidating of the premises upon which these public policy measures are founded.

      In any event, those youth unemployment figures, at least the upper estimates, wouldn’t look out of place in Mediterranean Europe atm, from which I draw three conclusions :

      1. Mom’s basement is waaay too sweet of a set-up.
      2. The follow your heart myth isn’t just in the Americas.
      3. Centrally planned economies funken blow.

  2. […] “lukewarmer,” who has a better head on his shoulders than all the fecally consensused scientards suckling from the government-funded teet of stupidity and perverse incentives… combined. But […]

  3. […] tingling with anticipation over here ! If you thought epidemiology was hard to follow, just wait until you ride the magic carpet that these soi-dissant “economists” will […]

  4. […] the Nobel Prize for his development of the Nash Equilibrium, which had come to be widely used in the increasingly charlatanised and platonically quantified field of economics in the interim. Unlike so goddam many of the […]

  5. […] quite simply nothing of the sort. Contrary to the protestations of soi-dissant historians and social(ist) scientards presently polluting the rear-facing perspectives of men, hierarchy is a beautiful thing, […]

  6. […] used. Because that’s what hyenas do and fuck your “new ideas” and your “social sciences” with their “proven to make you 13% better looking, 6% moar efficient, and your kid 9 […]

  7. […] is deeper than inequality – which actually isn’t on the rise, despite the rampant and statistically fallacious claims to the contrary – so much as the mental impoverishment of The West in general and the […]

  8. […] argument here! Statistics are the road to hell whether your industry is epidemiology or economics or e-commerce. […]

  9. […] are effective but the lot of ‘em are still a long ways off from being anything more than scientistic descriptions of ancient wisdom, viz., to paraphrase Bart The Wise, don’t be a cow, man. It’s […]

  10. […] not my fault, of course. Data is widely abused. Everywhere we look in the modern world we see statistics, graphs, charts, survey results, […]

  11. […] or any group’s success to any single one of their behaviours, it’s awfully narrow to attribute causation to what are more reasonably viewed as correlates. After all, you’re not poor because […]

  12. […] fuel. Not that it’s a cause of anything in particular, despite what headlines and “studies” will tell you about depression or cyberbullying or whatever fashionable correlates are […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>