Each week, on a Friday, Alexander Cockburn publishes a weekly diary in the weekend edition of Counterpunch, which he co-edits with Jeffrey St. Claire. Last week’s diary included a particularly important entry that expands on earlier CP essay analyzing the possibility of increased infant deaths in the western US resulting from the poisons spewed out by the multiple meltdowns in the Fukushima nuclear power facility in Japan.
Cockburn enlisted Pierre Sprey, a recognized expert in the proper use of nonparametric statistics to extract unbiased information out limited but important data samples, to examine the data/analysis in the original CP essay and to expand or critique the analysis, if possible. (caveat: Pierre is a close friend of mine)
Attached below is Cockburn’s summary of Pierre’s findings … it makes for very important reading for two reasons: it is a good discussion of the limits implicit in in quality statistical analysis, and it is a sobering discussion of a danger that has receded from the public consciousness.
Chuck Spinney, Saint Rafael, France The Blaster
Weekend Edition, June 17 – 19, 2011
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN, Counterpunch
Last weekend on this site we ran a piece by Dr. Janet Sherman and Joseph Mangano, reviewing some recent figures from the Center for Disease Control: here’s how they interpreted the data in the context of the disaster at Fukushima on March 11, 2011:
“The recent CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicates that eight cities in the northwest U.S. (Boise ID, Seattle WA, Portland OR, plus the northern California cities of Santa Cruz, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, and Berkeley) reported the following data on deaths among those younger than one year of age:
“4 weeks ending March 19, 2011 – 37 deaths (avg. 9.25 per week)
10 weeks ending May 28, 2011 – 125 deaths (avg.12.50 per week).
“This amounts to an increase of 35 per cent (the total for the entire U.S. rose about 2.3 per cent ), and is statistically significant. Of further significance is that those dates include the four weeks before and the ten weeks after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster…