Tag Archives: Christchurch

Non-fluoridated Christchurch does not have better teeth than fluoridated Auckland

wrong

It seems every time anti-fluoride propagandists present data it is either cherry-picked, distorted or misleading. Often all three. So it is hardly a surprise to find local anti-fluoride propagandists are telling porkies again.

They have been promoting the above graphic claiming it shows people in “non-fluoridated Christchurch have “better teeth.” But the graphic is based on naive cherry-picking of the data, it ignores the effect different ethnic groups have on the data and it uses a single cherry-picked year which fits their bias.

On top of that, axis values have been chosen to exaggerate differences and the labels are incorrect. The “non-fluoridated Christchurch” category uses data for Canterbury and the “fluoridated Hamilton” category uses data of the Waikato.

It seems that several of the commenters on the Fluoride Free NZ Facebook page where this graphic was first used saw the problems and raised them. All they got is insults for their time. These organisations do not seem capable of a rational discussion.

The Ministry of Health data they use is freely available on the MoH website. It provides oral health data for 5-year-old children and year 8 children. The data is presented annually and for different regions.

So let’s have a look at what the data really says – using more normal axis ranges and separating out ethnic groups.

chch-real

The top graph here is still misleading because it does not take into account the effect of different ethnic groups. However, the correct categories are used and the more rational axis really cuts the exaggerated difference down to size.

In the second graphic the data for Māori and Pacifica have been removed – the MoH describes this group as “Other” – it is mainly Pakeha. We can see that the caries-free % is actually greater for fluoridated Auckland than it is for non-fluoridated Canterbury – exactly the opposite of what the anti-fluoride propagandists were claiming.

It is the same story for Māori – the caries-free % is actually higher in fluoridated Auckland than in non-fluoridated Canterbury.

The problem with the “Total” data is that Pacifica have a large effect – particularly in Auckland where Pacifica are concentrated. Pacifica generally have poorer oral health but are concentrated in fluoridated regions. This drives down the caries-free % figures for the fluoridated areas if the differences are not accommodated.

I referred to this effect of Pacifica on the data in my article A challenge to anti-fluoridationers to justify their misrepresentation of New Zealand research. There I was referring to a similar way anti-fluoride campaigners were misrepresenting data from recent New Zealand research. In this case, they were using data from a paper (Schluter & Lee 2016) and completely ignoring the distortions introduced by inclusion of Pacific – even though the authors had warned against the anomaly introduced by this.

There are other effects which should also be considered in a proper understanding of these data. It is easy to cherry-pick the data for a single year when differences are small – the anti-fluoride people do that a lot. OK if you want to confirm your biases but consideration of the data over multiple years helps indicate trends, identify anomalies and provide an idea of variations in the data. It is also important to consider the numbers in each region. For example, I have not included Pacific in the graphs above because they are concentrated in Auckland and the numbers in Canterbury and Waikato are very low (eg., 45 in Waikato in 2014).

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Christchurch from space

This recent photo of Christchurch from Chris Hadfield now on board the International Space Station appealed to me. It seems to have quite wide coverage – but here it is for readers who have not yet come across it. (Click to enlarge).

BGE9l1rCUAANiIT.jpg large

Hadfield’s comment accompanying the Twitter of his photo said:

“Christchurch, NZ, taken just after Earth Hour ended. The perfect grid system of the downtown core is clearly visible.”

Sharp increase in “nones”

The American Values Survey Question Database  from the Pew Research Centre suggests that with the new century we may be seeing a marked change in the beliefs of Americans.

On the statement “I never doubt the existence of God” the number of people who disagree jumped from 10% in 2000 to 18% in 212. That is after being constant for the previous 15 years (see figure below).


But the data is even more dramatic when broken down into age groups. The numbers disagreeing have increased in all age groups, but the increase is most marked for the younger ages. The increase for the 18-29 years group was about 100% (from 18% in 2000 to 31% in 2012). And most of this increase occurred since 2005.

Perhaps those horrible Gnus have been having an effect after all.

The data for New Zealand is not so detailed. However, the figure below shows data from the last 3 census results – 1996, 2001, 2006. Here we see what appears to be a steady increase in those choosing “no religion” on the census form in all age groups. Again the effect is larger for the younger groups. About 45% of people below 40 years old now have no religion.

Last year’s census was delayed because of the Christchurch earthquakes. But I suspect we are going to see some barriers broken in the results it produces.

See also: Belief In God Plummets Among Youth (CHART) for US data presented in terms of “generations.”

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Blogging for New Zealand

Picked up the press release last night. Seems to be for a good cause – the recovery of New Zealand and the Christchurch region after the tragic earthquake of February 22.

Specifically this is aimed at the tourist industry and independent travelers. The aim is saturation blogging on March 20, 21 and 22 promoting New Zealand as a travel destination. The web site describes the promotion as :

Blog4NZ is a grassroots blogging and social media effort to support New Zealand travel in the wake of the Canterbury earthquake.

It is a worldwide blogging event happening on March 21-23, 2011 and you can be a part of it.”

If you are interested, want to contribute a blog post or publicise the event contact details are at:

Calling all travel bloggers to join Blog4NZ.

The face book page is: Blog4NZ – Blog for New Zealand on Facebook.

And you can follow on twitter using the tag # blog4nz


The world is in shock that one of the premium travel destinations in the world could suffer such a natural disaster as happened two weeks ago in Christchurch. And while all our thoughts go out to those people who have lost loved ones, lost homes and businesses, travel bloggers around the world are uniting to tell the world New Zealand is a great place to travel and there is no better time than now.

March 21, 22, and 23 has been set aside by travel bloggers throughout the world as 72 hours of content generation about travelling to New Zealand. #Blog4NZ is the brain-child of New Zealand travel bloggers Jim McIntosh and John Reese. John himself living in Christchurch. “We want a total black-out of travel content across the world, we want Twitter dominated by Tweets about travelling to New Zealand, we hope that all travel bloggers rally behind this cause and publish as many articles as possible throughout this period about travelling to New Zealand” said event organiser Craig Martin of Indie Travel Media.

“New Zealand is one of the world’s greatest travel destinations and has been a great source for many travel bloggers and travel entrepreneurs. For many northern hemisphere countries it is the furthest most spot they can travel. It has been the place where so much innovation has come with regard to travel – the home of Bungy, the birth place of hop-on hop-off backpacker travel, NZ led the way in independent hostels throughout the eighties and nineties. It is also a country where tourism is the number one contributor to GDP, where the Minister of Tourism is the PM – that is how important tourism is. This is the travel community saying hey go to NZ – if there is one place that should be on your travel list this year it is NZ” said Dan Roberts of Travel Generation. “This is something that as the travel community we can do to support not only all the businesses in Christchurch but everyone in New Zealand.”

via Press Release: Calling All Travel Bloggers – #Blog4NZ | Blog4NZ – Bloggers Resources.

See also:
Travel Blogging Community Rallies for New Zealand
A Great Project to be Involved – blog4NZ

Making sense of Ring gate?

Here is some sense on the Ring Gate  – the controversial interview of Ken Ring on Campbell live about prediction of earthquakes. Radio Wammo presented this interview with media commentator Russell Brown. He makes some important points

It does raise a lot of questions, though.

  • Why can people like King Ring get such large support and garner a dedicated following?
  • What does this say about the prevalence, or lack of, critical thinking in the population at large?
  • It look like Ring has taken advantage of the current understandable concern about earthquakes in New Zealand.
  • Is this ethical of him? Is it any more ethical than those who take advantage of human tragedies to claim they were caused by their gods. (Incidentally, the website http://www.christchurchquake.net/html/theWarning.html which claimed the Christchurch earthquake was cause by our naughty behavior seems to have been taken down).

See also:

For some scientific analysis of this issue see SciBlogs NZ and the posts Running rings around the Moon Man? and Ken Ring can’t predict earthquakes either.

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A human response to Christchurch quake

Rescue teams at the Christchurch CTV building site - Credit: MailOnline

New Zealanders are becoming aware of the magnitude of the  earthquake that hit Christchurch last Tuesday. I mean the human magnitude – not the geological one.

We had become so used to the aftershocks from the September 2010 earthquake that this one took a few hours to hit home. Now we have a nation-wide state of emergency and the death toll is rising. Its expected to be in the hundreds.

We are now seeing an Erebus effect: Every New Zealander will have a family member or friend who has died or been injured. In fact, because Christchurch was a centre for tourism and education of foreign students, the personal influence will be much wider than the country itself.

Human empathy

At SciBlogsNZ, Peter Griffin describes the losses suffered by the NZ News media in Christchurch (see Amid carnage media bears brunt of disaster). He also stresses that “the New Zealand media has actually responded impressively, with dignity and respect for the people of Christchurch.” I agree – their coverage has been very effective within New Zealand and  in supplying the overseas media.

This rapid and effective response by the media helped mobilise public sympathy and the huge efforts by the rest of the country to help in the search and rescue effort and support for survivors.

I have also been really impressed by how quickly other countries have responded with help. We had Australian search and rescue teams operating in Christchurch the day after the earthquake. More specialist teams are arriving from around the world. Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, USA, UK and probably other countries. Medical and police teams are also arriving.

The media coverage is bringing home the seriousness of this earthquake to the rest of New Zealand and the rest of the world. And there has been an immediate response.

I think this illustrates something about our species. We are basically social and empathetic. We can sympathise with the plight of others and feel their pain. We do respond automatically.

And our ability to empathise goes well beyond our direct kin. In a sense technological developments have brought this about. Today news of such human emergencies spreads very quickly. People on the other side of the world can be aware of such problems within hours. And the ready availability of news, images and TV produces a reality which enhances our empathy.

In a sense members of these search and rescue and other specialist teams are fortunate. In such emergencies they have skills which can be immediately put to use. Consequently these teams often operate in countries other than their own.

The rest of us often feel frustrated that we can’t help more. However, there is always the need for financial help – and that is particularly appropriate in this particular emergency. Just be aware that there are a few scams out there – support the reliable charities.

For example: The NZ Red Cross, or the Christchurch Mayoral Earthquake Appeal (via Give a Little).

See also:
How to donate to Christchurch quake appeals
Help support Christchurch earthquake victims
New Zealand Earthquake Appeal
Humanity. Much better than expected.

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The Challenge of the Human Brain

This looks like a fascinating lecture. Professor Richard Faull FRSNZ, Director of the Centre for Brain Research at The University of Auckland, is presenting the Royal Society of NZ  Distinguished Speaker lecture series this month.

He is a leading expert on neurodegenerative diseases of the human brain.  His research provided the first evidence the diseased human brain can repair itself by the generation of new brain cells and led to new insights into the treatment of brain disease.

I am a bit late on this. The first lecture is tonight in Dunedin and already booked out. However, here are the details of the series. They are all free and open to the public. Good news for those who can’t make any of the lectures – the Auckland lecture will be recorded by RNZ and broadcast in November:

Wellington

6pm Thursday 2 September
Soundings Theatre (previously listed as Te Marae) Te Papa Museum, Cable Street, Wellington
Refreshments and questions in Expresso Cafe after the lecture

THIS LECTURE IS NOW FULL

Dunedin

6pm Thursday 9 September
Hutton Theatre, Otago Museum, Great King Street, Dunedin

Register for 2010 Royal Society of New Zealand Distinguished Speaker  The Challenge of the Human Brain - DUNEDIN in Dunedin, New Zealand  on Eventbrite

Christchurch

6pm Friday 10 September
Christchurch Art Gallery Auditorium, Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch

THIS LECTURE IS NOW FULL

Hamilton

7.30pm Thursday 30 September
Gallagher Concert Chamber, Academy of Performing Arts, University of Waikato Campus (entry via Gate 2b on Knighton Road), Hamilton

Register for 2010 Royal Society of New Zealand Distinguished Speaker  The Challenge of the Human Brain - HAMILTON in Hamilton, New Zealand  on Eventbrite

Auckland

6.30pm Wednesday 13 October
Auditorium, Auckland Museum, The Domain, Parnell, Auckland (entry via the Southern Entrance, car parking available in the Domain and also in the Museum underground car park $8)
This lecture will be recorded by Radio New Zealand for broadcast as part of the ‘Talking Heads’ lecture series in November.  Entry to the Auditorium will not be permitted after the start of the lecture. (Auckland lecture only, not all lectures)

Register for 2010 Royal Society of New Zealand Distinguished Speaker  The Challenge of the Human Brain - AUCKLAND in Auckland, New Zealand  on Eventbrite

For more details go to the RSNZ web page 2010 Distinguished Speaker: The Challenge of the Human Brain

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NZ Atheists Swap Buses For Billboards

This from the NZ Atheist Bus Campaign:

The NZ Atheist Bus Campaign will unveil billboards with friendly atheist slogans in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch this week.

The campaign has chosen the three winning phrases from more than 900 public submissions of billboard slogans. “We’re excited about this opportunity to promote these thoughtful slogans and hope they’ll get people to stop and think.” said Simon Fisher, spokesperson for the Campaign.

While the precise wording of the three new slogans is intended to be a surprise, Mr Fisher says that all three designs will include the text “There’s probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life”
borrowed from the successful UK bus campaign.

With the launch of the billboard campaign, the organisation is also reopening its call for donations from people who want to see the billboards moved to other cities. “While the bus campaign would have been limited to main centres, the great thing about these canvases is that once printed they can be toured to other centres” said Mr Fisher.
“If a community wants to put one of our billboards up in their area they can contact us, arrange a location, and we’ll be delighted to lend them the canvas”.

Despite similar campaigns being run internationally, the organisation’s plans to place ads on buses in New Zealand hit a brick wall earlier this year when NZ Bus accepted and then rejected the billboards, leading to the Campaign’s decision to take the issue to a tribunal. “The Campaign is still committed to the discrimination case against NZ Bus through the Office of Human Rights Proceedings. “We have kept funds in reserve for a bus advertising campaign if this is successful.” said Mr Fisher.

Interested Kiwis can see the billboards in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch from Friday this week.

For more information and to donate, see NZ Atheist Campaign

Thanks to Toby Ricketts for the photos of two billboards just installed in Christchurch.

Here’s one billboard I missed:

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