Statistics of One

SF73 Member Posts: 316 Member

Often on this forum we advise each other not to pay attention to studies, survival rates, because they describe the average experience and may not reflect our chances. I enjoyed reading this article and wanted to share with you. Below is my favorite excerpt.  

New Yorker article: What statistics can and cannot tell us about ourselves

The dangers of making individual predictions from our collective characteristics were aptly demonstrated in a deal struck by the French lawyer André-François Raffray in 1965. He agreed to pay a ninety-year-old woman twenty-five hundred francs every month until her death, whereupon he would take possession of her apartment in Arles.

At the time, the average life expectancy of French women was 74.5 years, and Raffray, then forty-seven, no doubt thought he’d negotiated himself an auspicious contract. Unluckily for him, as Bill Bryson recounts in his new book, “The Body,” the woman was Jeanne Calment, who went on to become the oldest person on record. She survived for thirty-two years after their deal was signed, outliving Raffray, who died at seventy-seven. By then, he had paid more than twice the market value for an apartment he would never live in.


  • Armywife
    Armywife Member Posts: 449 Member
    Thank you!

    I cling to the hope that we are all statistics of one!  Can't wait to read this article.  It's exhausting to walk the line between "Stage IVB has a 17% 5-year survival rate" and "well, yours was an unusual presentation so perhaps a 30-40% is more likely" and "maybe we got it completely!"