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June 8, 1970

Statistical Interpretation

Author Affiliations

Arlington, Va

JAMA. 1970;212(10):1706. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170230108025

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To the Editor.—  In the study of "Effectiveness of Antibacterial Soaps in a Healthy Population" (211:973, 1970), the statistical method used was rather startling, to say the least. "Chi-square analysis showed this difference to be highly significant (P<0.01)." Difference between what and what? Between 44% and 0%? If you could use Chi-square on percentages, which is not done except maybe in Hollywood, you would have to take account of 100% to 44% which would be meaningless here. Chi-square is appropriate for the count given, and the result is nonsignificant because of the large number who had no infections.This thing is about on a par with the woman physician on television this morning, talking about the "overwhelming" genetic defects in the population. There are people who have blue eyes when they want brown. Never knew I was so loaded with genetic defects!