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More bullshit from Joseph Mangano, take 2

Last updated on March 1, 2013

The previous post was written in a rush, and somewhat in anger. Here is an attempt to explain better.

Joe Mangano shows his statistics to a reporter for Fox News

It seems as if it wasn’t enough for Joe Mangano to spread fear in the northwestern part of the U.S., so he decided to play the same game for Philadelphia, PA. One reason may be that relatively high levels of Iodine-131 in water have been recorded there recently. These are of course reasons for concern, and several reasons have been suggested (see for instance here(1), here(2) and here(3))

We leave that discussion aside and focus on Mangano’s new claims. For Philadelphia he suggests that a 48% increase of infant mortality is due to Fukushima. Below is the very detailed graphics (n.b.: irony) of the weekly rate of infant mortality before and after the radiation from Fukushima reached Philadelphia. The picture is a screen dump from the Fox News interview.

Joe Mangano's sophisticated statistics

Please note that is not enough for Mangano to cherry-pick the data, he is also keen on making the increase look very high by cutting the scale at 4, thus the “After”-pillar looks three times larger than the “Before”-pillar. Oh well, let’s not stay sore over that, we go back to his claims.


Number of infant deaths per week, spring 2011

Mangano’s “Before”-pillar corresponds to weeks 7 to 11 (black boxes). For the northwest Sherman and Mangano used weeks 8-11, now it seemed important to bring down the average value by adding week 7 in order to reduce the effect of the high value for week 8. The average becomes 5.0, to be compared with the ten following weeks (week 12-21) which have an average of 7.4. This is 48% higher value, just as Mangano says.

But once again, if we look at the first 6 weeks of the year, we find that the average for that period is 9.5! And the average value for the first 21 weeks of 2011 is 7.42, i.e. slightly higher than the alarming 48% increase level that gave Mangano a few minutes on fame on TV. In other words, Joe is trying to take us for a ride again. shame on him.

During the interview with Fox News he says, among other things:

The real benefit is that this is a red flag to raise for more studies to be done.


Is this a fluke or is there some other reason?We’ll see, but we can’t rule out Japan. Its too…too distinct.

The talk about a red flag could be a valid argument if data were more convincning. But the data only becomes “…too distinct” if we allow Mangano to play his tricks with them, i.e. by not showing a longer time trend before Fukushima. But there is a red flag to raise, a warning flag that Joseph Mangano is not a man to trust in these matters. And if he has done this, what says that any of his earlier studies have been performed in a more honest way.

During the Fox News interview Mangano also claims that the data from CDC shows a decreasing trend for the corresponding weeks during the previous six years, and now after Fukushima we have a peak instead. Based on what we have seen above, this is a meaningless statement. My intention was to double check all the data for the last six years, but it takes some time to extract the data from the CDC data base and I have better things to do. Therefore I only show the data for 2010, with the same weeks marked for comparison.






Pleying the same game with data for 2010

The mean values for the different time periods are:

  • Weeks 1-6: 6.5  (9.5 for 2011)
  • Weeks 7-11: 5.6 (5.0 for 2011)
  • Weeks 12-21: 6.1 (7.4 for 2011)
  • Weeks 1-21: 6.1 (7.43 for 2011)
  • Weeks 1-52: 6.7 (answer for 2011 will come in January 2012)

So, just by comparing weeks 12-21 between 2010 and 2011 we see that yes, there is an increase for 2011, and Mangano may be correct about a decreasing trend for the years 2005-2010. But considering the great variation in data over the last year this does not indicate anything. There are many other things that Mangano would have to explain then as well, for instance why 7.4 infant deaths are of concern while 9.5 is not. Ah, silly me, a relatively high value is only important if there has been a nuclear accident during that time. Who am I to question that? 😉

Mattias Lantz – member on the independent network Nuclear Power Yes Please


Update 25 June 2011

Several persons have asked about how to get access to the raw data. I put a summary of the links I have used on the follow-up post regarding the strange results from the CounterPunch re-analysis of the data (here), but I will now put them here as well. The last link on the list is the one that is the easiest one to use. Some information will appear if you hold the pointer over each link:


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