2012-09-21

Casual Looks

The New York Times reports that life expectancy is shrinking for US whites with low levels of eduation.

The Washington Post follows-up on this by providing a map of regional life expectancy changes (where red is a decrease and everything else is an increase):
Source: The Washington Post
Pop quiz: What simple error is being committed by journalists in both articles covering this "disturbing trend?"

Answer: Both articles fail to account for migration. By and large, those regions experiencing a decrease in life-expectancy are also those regions experiencing a high emigration rate. While both articles present empirical truths, demographic shifts can often be misleading.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to remind readers to critically question what they're reading and carefully assess what claims actually mean. Remember, it's not sufficient to process information; we have to be able to distinguish between good and bad information.