Via @CaulfieldTim, a very interesting article by David Kroll for Forbes on what the public understood from the well-publicized double mastectomy Angelina Jolie chose to undergo. Here’s a fascinating excerpt about the public’s perception of risks:
“While the researchers addressed other issues, their most striking reminder on the overall impact of any health reporting relates to the inadequate math skills and probability or risk understanding among a large percentage of the U.S. population. In a question designed to test basic probability knowledge, 31% of respondents could not predict how many times a flipped coin would turn up ‘heads’ out of 1,000 tosses.
“The authors note, ‘This is indicative of quantitative skill deficits found for almost half of the Americans who are characterized as functioning at below basic (22%) or basic (33%) quantitative skill levels.’ No matter how accurate medical reporting can be, public understanding of health risks is hampered by a lack of basic math skills. Therefore, this problem is far more insidious than health education dissemination. We are failing as a nation in insuring adults have the simple skills to assess risks of any nature.”
I strongly encourage you to go read the whole thing here.