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May 2, 1925


Author Affiliations

Lexington, Ky. Director, Department of Hygiene and Public Health, University of Kentucky

JAMA. 1925;84(18):1376-1377. doi:10.1001/jama.1925.02660440062024

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To the Editor:  —Vital statistics, their collection and their interpretation presuppose a dual type of training. Biometrics (of which vital statistics is a part) is simply mathematics applied to a biologic problem. The mathematics involved is far the simpler consideration, for in order to have the deductions of value, the student must have a clear-cut conception of all the underlying biologic factors that influence the collection of the data with which he is working. Obviously, one is not entitled to use a precision measure indicating that the result is correct to one part in 100, if in the collection of one single factor there is a probable error of 10 per cent.To add, multiply or divide, to figure rates per hundred thousand, is nothing but simple arithmetic. To know the limitations of differential diagnosis, the difficulties in the interpretation of physical signs and laboratory data, to have made out

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