My wife has decided to become “educated” on a number of issues and topics since her retirement as an elementary school teacher. Not having a background in science, she reads and hears about numerous reports and promptly gets confused. This just happened when a cousin of hers recommended a Website regarding the effectiveness of a cholesterol medication she’s taking. So, she had questions.

The answer I had for her included: this article was written by an attorney looking for class-action lawsuits; she cites a report, but gives no information about the report–i.e. who sponsored the report, who did the research, how was the research done, what was the population sample, how long did the study last, how did they measure, what were the measurements. Media (your local newspaper for example) is guilty of just taking headlines and ignoring the science. This can lead to quite misleading ideas.

Just to show how confusing things can be, I received two email messages at almost the same time yesterday. One from The Conference Board cited a study that unemployment has leveled off for three months. Assuming a slow recovery and that people placed on part-time status will first be brought back to full time before any other hiring is done, it predicts slow job growth. The other message from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) cites a Wall Street Journal article (I don’t pay, so I can’t see it) that expects job growth.

Take your pick.

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