Public policy dictates the health risks the public routinely takes. Statistical arguments about health risks are used primarily to deflect public fears, while contributing little to policy debate. For example, statistics are cited to imply that wearing a seat belt reduces one’s risk of death in an automobile accident, deflecting attention from the fact that a transportation policy that promotes increasing use of automobiles inherently increases any individual’s risk of death in an automobile accident.
The way the example functions above is most closely paralleled in which one of the following?
(A) Statistics indicate that an individual’s risk of contracting cancer from radiation emitted by a nuclear power plant is less than that of contracting cancer from sunshine. These statistics draw attention away from the fact that a policy of energy conservation is safer for human health than a policy based on nuclear energy.
(B) Statistics indicate that an urban resident’s risk of accidental death from any cause is no greater than that of an individual who lives in a suburban or rural area. These statistics counter the widely held public belief that urban areas are more dangerous than suburban or rural areas.
(C) Statistics indicate that the average life expectancy of males is shorter than that of females. This alone should not influence policies regarding eligibility for life insurance
because it is also true that any individual’s expectancy can be calculated on the basis of personal characteristics and health practices.
(D) Statistics indicate that the average life expectancy of males is shorter than that of females.When one accounts for the fact that females smoke less and are less likely to work in jobs in the chemical and manufacturing industries, the difference in life expectancy is narrowed.
(E) Statistics indicate that the number of people dependent on alcohol far exceeds the number dependent on illegal addictive drugs; thus, any policy for the control and treatment of substance abuse should provide for treatment of alcoholism.
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