Fentanyl deaths: At first I was discomfited by “Number of deaths has doubled every year” compared to “fentanyl overdose deaths climbed 141 percent yearly for African-Americans” Wait, I thought, 141 is less than 200%
I fell victim to a common problem with numbers presentations: Change of base, and change of operator. The first statement made me think of the increase as being a *multiplying* factor of the base — previous year’s deaths. The second statement is an *additive* factor. Expressed in common language, I could say, “Fentanyl deaths have increased by 100% compounded each year from 2011 to 2016” or I could say “Among blacks deaths have increase by a factor of 248% per year. Or I could put in a table.
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