Percentages…

Maths was never my forte. I like to blame poor math teachers at school but that may be a convenient excuse. The bottom line mostly likely is that I simply don’t have an aptitude for figures. Fortunately that has not greatly hampered my life. However, it has come to my attention of late, like it or not percentages now figure more prominently in my day to day existence. Is it just me or is this a general prevalence?

For example, I am frequently checking what percentage of battery life remains on my various devices, most notably the iPhone, iPad and the PC, and though I seldom ever get near to using up all my data allowance on Netflix or my phone I occasionally take a peek at that too.

Of far greater interest is my monthly blood test results which are just heaving with percentages, most of them more or less meaningless to the uninitiated which is why my doctor or naturopath has to explain their significance. That said what really concerns me is the question whether in fact they actually have any real significance. Unlike battery life on my various devices which do seem to have a very practical relevance, it seems to me those listed in my clinic results are far more dubious. And it isn’t just me who thinks this way. There is a whole body of professionals questioning the real significance for example of viral loads and CD4 counts and their application in supposedly proving this or that theory.

I was reminded of this today when watching a short video highlighting the absurdity of statistics relating to viral loads and CD4 counts and the graphs created from manipulation of same to prove this or that theory. It made me think of a recent conversation I had with my doctor when I questioned the incredible fluctuation between one month’s results and the next. What could possibly account for such variation? Ever ready with an appropriate response she explained that trials she had actually been involved in at St.Peter’s Hospital revealed that not only can one’s CD4 count be affected by all manner of random factors but will also change, often dramatically from hour to hour and time of day. How then can anyone place any real trust in such percentages as an accurate guideline to the health of one’s immune system?

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