Category Archives: Healthcare

Army suicides and gun policy

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A very significant U. S. Army study on suicides in the ranks [1] came and went past most public notice in 2013. On some military bases, “successful” suicides are nearly zero. Suicides on U.S. bases in South Korea have been very rare. But the rates are disturbingly high at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Fort Hood, Texas, for example. The one… Read more »

Ambulances, drugs and the fixed-cost dilemma

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Vox.com’s Sarah Kliff has been mounting an excellent campaign to make hospital emergency room charges more transparent. One example making the rounds is several accounts of short ambulance rides being billed in the vicinity of $2000. I have yet to see a good discussion of this rate level presented as the very basic math problem that is the “Fixed-cost Dilemma.”… Read more »

Cancer, probability, normality and theodicy – part 4

Said no one at any funeral ever: “I figured out the probability for why he died.” [1] Part Two and Part Three of this series of posts looked why the statistics for cancer, automobile accidents and other unfortunate life events are often so rigidly probabilistic in narrow ranges in aggregate. In other words, we can often predict “How many?” down… Read more »

Cancer, probability, normality and theodicy – part 3

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Part One of this series of posts introduced the idea that natural probabilities for life events like a cancer diagnosis or a traffic accident are counter-intuitively very predictable in the aggregate, although usually not individually. Part Two demonstrated how a low-probability and very skewed random event begins, after a lot of time and repetitions, to look very “normal” because of… Read more »

Cancer, probability, normality and theodicy – part 2

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In Part One of this series, I suggested that you imagine what happens when a wonky die is rolled over and over again. Cancer probabilities are kind of wonky this way, with a low probability of happening, followed by an unpredictable course when it kicks in, possibly including death. The mathematical principle illustrated here is called the Central Limit Theorem…. Read more »

Cancer, probability, normality and theodicy – part 1

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I have posted recently about the lotteries that you will likely lose and the lotteries you have already won. In this post I want to talk about the math of a lottery you might win, but really do not want to. And understanding the math here is to get to a closer understanding of probability and fate in nature. Every… Read more »

Here is how to compare U.S. and British health care

Recent headlines highlight problems in delivering appropriate patient care in the United Kingdom as this flu season overwhelms the National Health Service. [1] While this certainly does put a lot of British citizens at risk, the usual trashing of the British health care system by elements of the American press is, as usual, grossly misplaced. I have lived under the… Read more »