So I came across this headline today:
“Rise in Skin Cancer May be Linked to Cheap Vacation Packages”
And I couldn’t help but click on it because, let’s face it, it sounds like shoddy science.
Boy was I right.
If you investigate the story, they claim that malignant melanoma (fatal skin cancer) is on the rise among elderly U.K. citizens. The reason? Apparently a combination between the increasing popularity of cheap vacation packages and the lack of suntan lotion usage. Without even looking anything up online, I can already provide several other hypotheses that could also be true. Let’s see, maybe this increase in melanoma is due to:
- An overall increase in the number of melanomas being reported because of public awareness campaigns and/or better detection by doctors
- An overall increase in the number of UK adults today that are 65 and over, compared to 40 years ago
- An increase in cases of melanoma worldwide, because the weakening of the ozone layer has increased sun intensity
- Or maybe it is simply due to the invention of the tanning bed?
The point is, there’s a zillion other reasons why melanoma is on the rise in elderly UK citizens. But to attribute the increase in melanoma cases to cheap vacation packages without the data to back it up? Now that’s some shoddy science right there!
Oh yeah, the old Causation vs Correlation play. Very nice of you to point this one out!
I really liked your blog!
Exactly right, correlation vs. causation! That’s what makes science so tricky. Thanks for reading, i’m glad you enjoy it :)