Vitamin Supplements, Brains, and Seniors

Dear students,

In yesterday's edition of our local newspaper, there was an article on page A-7 entitled "Vitamin Supplements Keep Senior Brains Sharp Longer." Did you see it? If not, take a look if you have access to a copy of yesterday's paper.

I think this article is worth reading for two reasons. First, the word "significant" appears twice: (1) "However, to our surprise, we found there was not a significant association between vitamin supplement use and clinically recognized stroke . . . ." and (2) "But there was no significant reduction in the occurrence of Alzheimer's disease."

You may be thinking (as I hope you might be) that the double occurrrence of "nonsignificance" was attributable to inadequate power in the statistical tests rather than to null hypotheses that were true. If so, then the notion of a Type II error may have been made.

However, a total of 3,385 men were involved in this study. With a sample size that large, the statistical tests surely were powerful enough to detect any meaningful relationships. The fact that the findings were nonsignificant, therefore, is most likely NOT the result of a Type II error.

Sky Huck

Copyright © 2012

Schuyler W. Huck
All rights reserved.

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