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Sensible Skepticism in Stats-Quotation June 23, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.

I can’t remember seeing so many source qualifications in a story before. The WSJ seems highly critical of General Mills’ claims that Cocoa Puffs are better than no breakfast at all:

    “…says Jeannie Moloo, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, a professional group that gets funding from dieticians and the food industry… said Elizabeth Lascoutx, director of the group, which is partly funded by children’s advertisers, including General Mills…The study was written by three researchers in General Mills’s health and nutrition division. To calculate the statistic that 5% of the sugar in a child’s diet comes from sugar, General Mills used data from the Centers for Disease Control’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. A spokeswoman for the agency said she couldn’t confirm the 5% figure.”

But the Journal also casts a little skeptical light on the counter argument:

    “…said Marion Nestle, a New York University professor of nutrition, food studies and public health who frequently is critical of the industry. Ms. Nestle hadn’t seen the General Mills ads.”

If only stats-quoting in general were treated this way.

And in case you’re wondering whether my own business is vulnerable, I’d attribute a JupiterResearch data point something along the lines of: “the widgets market will grow to $2 billion in 2005, according to analysis and advisory firm, JupiterResearch, whose clients include widget manufacturers.”

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