I found this in an old email I'd sent out when venting, and thought it's not a bad idea to share it.
GIGO is a fairly simple concept: Garbage In, Garbage Out. If you have bad data, you can analyze it 'til the cows come home and you're still gonna have bad data. If my data on, say, what the average person spends on coffee a year comes from me looking at my own coffee budget, I'm not going to be giving Juan Valdez much to go on. I don't drink coffee. I'd rather suck an aspirin tablet. We can take the information on my coffee spending -- which would be maybe one cup a year purchased for a friend -- and we can extrapolate it to the entire country. We can see in which month I spent the most on coffee. We can look at my peak coffee expenditures, my low coffee expenditures, my average daily coffee expenditure, how much I spent on regular versus decaf, and it's not going to give you any useful information about how to market coffee, is it? Because it's not an accurate accounting of how much an average American spends on coffee. No amount of analyzing it is going to change that. You could hire ten thousand of the best statisticians and marketing experts, but if all the data they have is Christina Dunigan's expenditures on coffee, they're not going to know squat about the average American's coffee consumption.
And the same goes for abortion mortality data. We have to know where the data come from and how accurate it is or isn't before we spend any time analyzing it and drawing conclusions from it.
I spent six months of my life -- SIX MONTHS -- finding out exactly how the CDC gets their information about abortion deaths. I contacted every health department and vital records office in the United States -- the 50 states, New York City, DC, and the Virgin Islands (just to find out if territories worked differently from states). I spoke to the coding clerks that processed the death certificates, who analyzed them to see that they were filled out properly who abstracted data and sent it to the National Center for Health Statistics. I ordered database runs of state death records. I spoke to the people at the CDC who actually produce the annual Abortion Surveillance Reports. I got death certificates, autopsy reports, medical records, health inspection reports, medical board disciplinary documents. I talked to the guys at the NCHS. I spent SIX MONTHS finding out where the CDC gets their abortion mortality numbers.
What they do is very much akin to sticking a bushel basket under an apple tree, checking to see how many apples landed in it, and concluding that this is equal to the total number of apples that fell in the entire orchard. Note that it is NOT akin to counting those apples and then extrapolating the number of apples that fell in the entire orchard based on the size of the basket and the size of the orchard. No. They count what happens to land in their basket, then publish the numbers as if they really represent the total. And they defend the total on the grounds that sometimes people pick up apples off the ground and toss them into the basket, so they're not counting just the ones that fall straight down. This is a very clear and appropriate analogy to how the CDC collects their abortion mortality data. I know this because I spent SIX MONTHS LOOKING INTO IT. And the six months wasn't an arbitrary number. It's just how long it took of making phone calls and writing letters and waiting for data runs to come back so I could ask more questions. It's how long it took to get the information. It's how long it took to find out where the numbers come from. I can't stress this enough.
My troll keeps insisting that "there is an entire industry devoted to analyzing abortion deaths" and that therefore the numbers MUST be accurate. I agree that there is an entire industry devoted to analyzing abortion deaths.Where do they get the numbers they get tenure for analyzing?
FROM THE CDC. The guys with the bushel basket under a tree.