Sad Doggy Says: People Who Confuse Correlation and Causation Are More Likely to Accept Schlocky Science Journalism

Somehow I don’t expect to find this story hyped up on TV news shows… but if a similar study proposed any sort of connection that made video games look bad, that would be another story.

NYT Sad Doggy  Illustrates Story Unrelated to Sad Doggies (Made you look!)

Using complex actuarial tables and adjusting for smoking, waist circumference, dietary quality, exercise habits and other variables, the scientists were next able to isolate the specific effect that the hours of sitting seemed to be having on people’s life spans.

And the findings were sobering: Every single hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes. –  NYTimes.com.

I gather that 21.8 minutes comes on top of the 60 minutes you lost watching the hour of TV in the first place.

I didn’t read much more of the article, because I was too busy feeling superior that the last TV show I actually made time to watch was Babylon 5 (which went off the air in 1998). Now excuse me while I finish this blog entry and start some subcommittee work, the effects of which on my lifespan are probably best left unexplored.

Okay, one more snark:

Looking more broadly, they concluded that an adult who spends an average of six hours a day watching TV over the course of a lifetime can expect to live 4.8 years fewer than a person who does not watch TV.

The general rule is to use “fewer” for items that can be counted individually, and “less” for an undifferentiated stream or mass. Yes, a year is something you can count individually, but the measurement “4.8 years” indicates time is here being used as a continuous span.

In fact, the AP Stylebook gives “fewer than 60 years” as a “wrong” example, stating “Years in this sense refers to a period of time, not individual years.”