Great headline in my local paper today, the esteemed Aberdeen Press and Journal:

Study shows risk of dying doubles.

So that would be doubled from 100% would it?

The text of the article compounds the error:

Scientists in the US found that “feeling lonely” almost doubled the risk of dying in a population of 1,600 older individuals.

Of course, what it really means is that at any given age loneliness can almost double the risk of dying.  At the end of the day the grim reaper gets us all.

It reminded me of a diagnosis I once had of a (not actually too serious) medical problem.  The first medic, a rather gloomy registrar volunteered ‘You have an irreversible degenerative disease, Mr White.’  When I retailed this to the head honcho, a neurologist, he added the helpful corrective – ‘Yes. We all have an irreversible degenerative disease.  It’s called life.  And what’s more it’s sexually transmitted.’

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