Study Blames TV But Truth Takes More Thought

File this one under Plain Silly Stats.

A new study finds that for every two hours of television per day, a viewer's risk of an early death rises by 13 percent. The chances of diabetes jumps by 20 percent, and the risk of heart disease increases by 15 percent.

Let's do the math. If you watch TV for four hours a day, your risk of an "early death" (whatever that means) goes up by 26%, right? So if you watch for eight hours a day, your risk goes up 104%? Making you an absolutely sure bet to die "prematurely." Just over six hours a day and, bang, you are magically a diabetic?

To make matters even more ridiculous, this longer report on the study carried on the Reuters wire leaves out the word "prematurely." The implication is that more TV pushes you closer to guaranteed death. Hello! We are all gonna die, folks. Nobody gets out alive! And, by contrast, watching no TV won't make you immortal, either.

Yeah, I know. My use of stats is only somewhat more accurate than these reports. But the point is just that: stats don't prove anything when they're cited to prove an abstract point. We're all going to die. "Premature" death isn't a valid objective measurement. Even the study said the real culprit isn't TV, it's a sedentary lifestyle which "presumably" gives rise to bad eating habits. TV was just a convenient scapegoat for sedentary living. By the same measure, reading too much can do you in.

Gimme a break.

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