Lies, damn lies, and statistics — yet another report falsely claims America has the worst newborn survival rate in the industrial world

It’s the kind of headline that makes liberals start running around screaming “Socialized medicine!!  We need socialized medicine!”  There it is, at the Daily Mail:  “U.S. is the most dangerous place in the industrialized world for newborns with more babies dying on their first day than in any other developed nation.”  Oh, my God!  Oh, my Gaia!

The U.S. is one of the most dangerous countries in the industrialized world for newborns due to high rates of premature births and babies born to teen mothers, according to a new study.

For every 1,000 babies born in the U.S., three die on the day of their birth – which is the highest first-day death rate in the industrialized world, a report by the global aid group ‘Save the Children’ says. The U.S. rate is worse than even some developing countries, including Cuba, Egypt and Mexico.

This particular report, which comes from “Save the Children”, blames America for having too many premature babies and teen mothers, not to mention that ridiculous market-based (sort of) health care system.

However, the report forgets one important little detail, which is that it’s comparing apples to oranges.  That’s always going to skew the statistics.  Since this kind of stupidity erupts annually, there’s a plethora of articles explaining this statistical error.  None of these organizations — all of which measure a nation’s healthcare quality by level of government control, rather than outcome — care a jot about making sure that their metrics are correct before they start drawing conclusions.   This is because they’re interested in political outcomes, not actual quality of health care.  Here’s a Fox News article from 2011 once again correcting the apples versus oranges mistake behind this alleged statistic:

The U.S. ranks poorly on the infant mortality list largely because this country actually counts neonatal deaths, notably premature infant fatalities, unlike other countries who don’t count these infant deaths.

“In several countries, such as in the United States, Canada and the Nordic countries, very premature babies (with relatively low odds of survival) are registered as live births, which increases mortality rates compared with other countries that do not register them as live births,” the OECD says.

Other statistical quirks give the U.S. an unjustifiably poor showing in this ranking compared to other countries.

Start with the definition of the infant mortality rate.

The World Health Organization [WHO] defines a country’s infant mortality rate as the number of infants who die between birth and age one, per 1,000 live births.

WHO says a live birth is when a baby shows any sign of life, even if, say, a low birth weight baby takes one single breath, or has one heartbeat.

The U.S. uses this definition. But other countries do not — so they don’t count premature or severely ill babies as live births-or deaths.

The United States actually counts all births if they show any sign of life, regardless of prematurity, or size, or duration of life, notes Bernardine Healy, former director of the National Institutes of Health and former president and chief executive of the American Red Cross.

And that includes stillbirths, which many other countries do not count, much less report.

Also, what counts as a birth varies from country to country. In Austria and Germany, fetal weight must be at least 500 grams (1 pound) before these countries count these infants as live births, Healy notes.

In other parts of Europe, such as Switzerland, the fetus must be at least 30 centimeters (12 inches) long. In Belgium and France, births at less than 26 weeks of pregnancy are registered as lifeless, and are not counted, Healy says.

And some countries don’t reliably register babies who die within the first 24 hours of birth, Healy notes.

Norway, which has one of the lowest infant mortality rates, shows no better infant survival than the United States when you factor in Norway’s underweight infants who are not now counted, says Nicholas Eberstadt, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Other factors behind the differences in neonatal survival rates are our heterogeneous population (both genetically and culturally) and the number of older mothers who have high risk multiple birth pregnancies following fertility treatments.

For the best article I’ve ever read on the dishonesty behind every one of these “America kills newborns” studies, you must read Scott Atlas’s The Worst Study Ever. In it, Atlas looks at the rank dishonesty in the WHO Study that swept the Progressive and socialist world, assuring them that America, which has the best outcomes, actually provides the worst medical care.

Charlie Martin brilliantly (and without malice) explains why polls are not helpful in this election

I will be the first to admit that, when it comes to math and science, I have . . . ah . . . issues, at least as to some subjects.  For example, you can talk to me about physics and aerodynamics all you want, but I know that the reasons planes fly is magic and prayer, neither of which are always reliable.  I also know that germs can leap of toilet seats and attack people within a five or ten foot vicinity.  You can tell me differently, but I won’t believe you.

As for polls, they’re the worst thing of all, a peculiar amalgam of statistics (confusing and evil), math (confusing and evil), guesstimates (just evil), and all sorts of other stuff.  Add in my distrust for many of the media and polling organizations involved in the whole poll thing and I’m pretty much going to discount the polls.

What Charlie does is explain why the polls are of dubious value this year, but it’s not because of evil or bias.  It’s because this presidential election year is a presidential election year different from all others.  Even with the best will in the world, polling organizations are facing unexpected hurdles that may destroy (or, at least, substantially devalue) their polls’ utility.  Best of all, Charlie explains it all in terms even a magical thinker (that would be me) can understand.

Debunking the New York Times’ usual hit job on the military

On a regular basis, the New York Times launches an attack against the military.  Or more accurately, against the men and women (especially the men) who serve in the military.  We get stories about their high drug abuse rates, high crime rates, high insanity rates, and high suicide rates.  Usually, when you start digging, you discover that the rates are never comparable to a similarly situated civilian population:  i.e., one made up primarily of men between 18 and 35.  Because these “studies” and “stories” compare apples to oranges, they are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

The New York Times was at it again last week, with an editorial based upon some questionable statistics that purport to show that the military is the scourge of women because it has an unusually high number of sexual assaults.  I say questionable because, as with all the other “bad” military stories, we have apples and oranges comparisons between a general population composed of adults and children, male and female, old and young, and a specific population composed mostly of young males.  In addition, because many sexual assaults in both the military and the general population can be known only if the women report them, the fact that the military recently made it easier to report assaults (as the editorial acknowledges) may skew the statistics.  By being good, the military ends up looking bad.

The worst part of the New York Times editorial, though, isn’t the editorial at all — it’s the comments from readers.  America’s First Sergeant looks at some of those comments and reveals the fallacies and biases that underlie them.

In Marin, people boast about being New York Times readers.  In their minds, stating that they read the NYT is a short-hand way to say that they’re smart and informed.  I have to confess that, when I hear that they read the Times, “smart” and “informed” are not the first words that spring to my mind.  If you read Am’s 1st Sgt, you might get some idea of the adjectives my brain generates when I hear the “I read the NYT” boast.

Quick links for Saturday afternoon

My mother is miserable.  With her, it’s always a chicken and egg thing, as we struggle to figure out if her mental misery causes her physical symptoms or vice versa.  This question actually matters because, if there’s a genuine health problem, medical care can perhaps alleviate her misery but, if her suffering is psychosomatic (real symptoms, but triggered by stress and anxiety, rather than a treatable physical problem), there’s really nothing to do.  Still, I’m heading over because she’s unhappy and she likes to see me.

Before I got, let me share with you all the tabs I have open.

Michael Yon is fueling a debate about Medevac helicopters.  I’m currently inclined to Blackfive’s view, which is that the current approach is sensible and is the best that can be done in battle conditions.  Do you have a take on this?

Don Quixote and I often talk about the lies, damn lies, and statistics, that fill the news.  When I point to this chart, he points to this chart and then points out that an aging population inevitably has a shrinking workforce, and that job numbers are climbing, and that conservatives have to deal with this reality in the lead-up to the November election.  Don Quixote wants conservatives to win; he just thinks they harm themselves if they live in a factual bubble.  I’ll admit that statistics fill me (and most people) with horror.  There is one number, though, that is inarguable and that may help ring down the curtain on the Obama administration, and that’s gas prices.  When both the ultra liberal San Francisco Comical and the more liberal Marin Independent Journal feel compelled to note the highest gas prices ever, people might figure out that something isn’t right in the economy.  The only question is whether they blame two years of a Republican House, or six years of a Democrat Congress, two of which included a Democrat White House too.

And lastly, before I run, read this and tell me what the heck kind of a nation we’ve become?  It’s stories such as this one that make me feel we deserve our downward slide.

Oh, one more thing:  Progressives are painting Santorum as Satan incarnate because he speaks openly about God and opines about social issues (although he gives no indication that he is going to use the federal government to create the Christian version of a Sharia state).  Mr. Bookworm, who is my go-to guy for finding out what liberals are thinking, says “I could never vote for him.”  But here’s the dirty little secret — If Romney is the frontrunner, Mr. Bookworm will say precisely the same thing, because Romney’s Mormon or because Romney is a wooden speaker or because Romney is rich.  For the diehards, it’s always something.  Trying to pick a conservative candidate who will appeal to the Mr. Bookworm’s of the world is pointless.  The same holds true when it comes to trying to pick a conservative candidate for the independents.  The Progressives will always find a way to twist and slime the Republican candidate in order to strike fear into the heart of average voters who aren’t paying close attention.  All we conservatives can do is pick a candidate who will be a good conservative leader and then hope that Americans will focus on the important issues such as the economy and national security.