Monday, August 6, 2012

Lying with Statistics

On a 5-hour energy commercial they claim that "over 73% of physicians would recommend a low calorie energy supplement to their healthy patients who use energy supplements."

For reference:  http://www.5hourenergy.com/commercials.asp

If you can't identify the faulty logic, I'll spell it out. the question asked of physicians was not "would you recommend 5-hour energy to your patients?" (if 73% said yes to that, then I'd be drinking that shit like crazy). INSTEAD they asked if they would recommend a "low calorie" supplement to patients ALREADY TAKING SUPPLEMENTS.
In other words, 73% of physicians in their study (n>3,000) would recommend a low calorie supplement IF a patient is already taking one, but THIS IS IN NO WAY AN ENDORSEMENT OF ENERGY SUPPLEMENTS.

Keep in mind that I have not reviewed the research they claim to have conducted, just the manner in which they are presenting it on television. However, given the specific way they are stating the finding on TV, I doubt the actual survey question was phrased much differently. 

The last line of the commercial is one of the worst: "is 5-hour energy right for you? ask your doctor. we already asked 3,000" As if the sample size alone should influence your decision. Remember those 3,000 didn't say anything about whether they thought 5-hour energy was right for you. In fact, 27% didn't even say that you should drink it, EVEN IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY USING HIGHER CALORIE SUPPLEMENTS.

PS how many high calorie energy supplements do you think are on the market? I haven't checked recently but I'm guessing that most of them are low calorie. Which makes this "finding" even more absurd, given that there are probably not many existing high calorie alternatives.

Drink energy drinks if you want to, but don't fall for bullshit.