February 2012 Archives


In this article Health.com is claiming that the increase in traffic related air pollution may be increasing strokes and heart attacks in individuals. They derived this from comparing almost 2,000 stroke cases to the day to day levels of air pollution. Health.com states in the article on CNN, that the chance of having a stroke is 34% higher after a day spent in moderate air quality, rather than good. I believe that this claim lacks the support of one or more of the six principles of scientific thinking. One major scientific thinking principle that should have been considered in this claim is the ruling out rival hypotheses. The article is giving readers one explanation; therefore, many are automatically assuming it is correct. Many readers need to realize there are other possible explanations or causes for these strokes and heart attacks. The article did state that they looked at the medical records of the patients in the stroke cases they evaluated. This was done before this claim was stated, but there are other explanations that would also fit these findings that may not be on individual's medical records. There could be causes that were never tested in those individuals or explanations that have not yet been thought of.
Another scientific thinking principle that does not support this claim is the Occam's Razor. When looking at other explanations of heart attacks and strokes like the blockage of an artery or the burst of a blood vessel, they seem like much simpler explanations. These explanations not only seem simpler, but also do a better job of accounting for the result of a stroke.

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