Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Really, really old men and really, really young babies and the decline of Western Civilization Part VII

[And now for some of the stuff I didn’t get around to doing while I was earning a living]

Methuselah lived 900 years and posed a serious threat to the Social Security program. Okay, serious question: If Noah could live 950 years, Adam 930 and Methuselah almost 1,000, how come we can get to maybe 80 and croak? What did they know we don’t, or, more important, what was different then? Yes, I know, I’m taking those numbers literally and I don’t believe them any more than you do but, if you take the Bible literally, you do have a problem. They lived a lot longer than we do. And I won’t even mention Sarah having a baby (Isaac) when she was in her 90s. Even she laughed at that. A mathematician--and True Believer--has actually come up with a statistical explanation that to him, at least, makes sense. He is Arnold C. Mendez Jr, on Biblestudy.org, and I’m assuming he is a mathematician because he understands what a coefficient of determination is and I don’t. He is intrigued by the fact the great flood was something of a turning point and longevity was at its longest just before and after.
After the flood the earth was completely different than the earth before. There were widespread global differences. These would include changes in the climate, composition of the atmosphere, hydrologic cycle, geologic features, cosmic radiation reaching the earth, ozone concentration, ultra violet light, background radiation, genetics, diet, and a host of other subtle and/or profound chemical and physiological changes. These changes caused a rapid decline of the longevity of post flood humanity.

He came up with the formula: y=487.78exp(-0.0907x) where x represents the generation number. [I have absolutely what I have just pasted here and if it turns out to be obscene, forgive me]. After 20 generations, longevity matched reality and the decline perfectly--more or less--matched an exponential curve. He submits that’s a lot more mathematics than the alleged authors of the Bible could have known. Of course he also admits an 11% margin of error, but we’re talking metaphysics and statistics here. [And thanks to Laurie Snell and the good folks at Chance News at Dartmouth. May you live 546 years.]

We still have the best medicine in the world and--oh my--is that a baby crying? Can't be Latvia--Just below I did my screed on health care and people who argue against “socialized” medicine. I pointed out that the claim that we already have the best medical care in the world is nonsense and not a valid argument against universal insurance. New data supports my claim. It turns out we rank on the bottom of the list for the survival rate of newborns. We are down there with Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Malta. If it make you feel better, Latvia has it worse. We have a death rate of 5 per 1,000 babies born. Almost 30 other countries do better. Vietnam and Colombia had the best record. They all have universal health care. You know all those people falling through the cracks in our harebrained system? Well, most of them are babies.

[Cartoon from www.twainquotes.com, chart from the AP]


chsw10605 said...

I really doubt that Kazakhstan, Jordan, Brazil, etc. have such low rates. The rates on infant mortality depend on official statistics. These are like Mainland China's official air pollution statistics. If you believe them, then you believe that each Mainland Chinese has one flatulent episode yearly.

chsw10605 said...

Oh, I forgot. Joel - til 1120.


chsw10605 said...

I have more than just my gut reaction to the infant mortality statistics. Check this out: http://www.qando.net/trackbacks.aspx?Entry=3848

Anonymous said...

I went back but don't know what I'm looking at.


chsw10605 said...

j, what you are looking at is the bowl of apples and oranges that is produced when one combines official statistics from different countries. The example of the different criteria of Switzerland vs. USA for what constitutes a "live birth" is striking. Most live-born premature babies would not be counted in Switzerland's live-birth stats. More importantly, neither would those live-born preemies who die during their first year of life. This is different than in the USA. Other examples are in the qando.net article.