The basics of the basics: What is/are the definitions?
August 19th, 2005 by JTJ

Ford Fessenden, of the NYTimes, has yet another strong piece in Thursday's paper, “Health Mystery in New York: Heart Disease.”  The lede lays out the perplexing problem in NYC: “Death rates from heart disease in New York City and its suburbs are
among the highest recorded in the country, and no one quite knows why.”

But among possible answers — and here especially is where the AJ kicks in — is that there is some “…speculation that doctors in the area may lump deaths with more subtle
causes into the heart disease category, making that toll look worse
than it actually is
.”  And “…the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at the health
department's request, has sent specialists to determine whether doctors
in New York City ascribe causes of death substantially differently.”

I know, I know, we're preaching here, but we don't think it can be pointed out too often: journalists and all social scientists cannot simply accept given numbers as a true, valid, honest.  We always have to swim up the data-creation stream to determine where, why and from who came the numbers. 

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