Field of Science

Statistics for Idiots

Republicans in the House are proposing to cut funding for food safety programs, despite a rise in food-born illness. Congressman Jack Kingston explains, that the nation's food supply is "99.99 percent safe". Politifact says, "That sounds great, but is it true?"

Actually, it doesn't sound that good to me. Suppose Kingston means that you only have a 0.01% chance of getting ill any particular time you eat (which seems to be the case). And let's say people eat 3 times a day. That gives you a 10.4% chance of getting sick any given year. I'd rather not get sick at all, particularly when many of the illnesses are easily preventable.