Friday, January 20, 2006

A Public Service Announcement

On rates of growth. I just heard something on an old Al Franken show about Zen Buddhism being the most rapidly growing religion in the U.S.. If you think about this a little, you will most likely remember lots of other religions that are the most rapidly growing ones, and also lots of illnesses and lots of political associations and so on.

The problem with that argument is the following: Think about echidneism, the religion that I'm trying to start. It currently has one believer (me). If I add another one today, my religion has just grown by 100%! So growth rates are always high when we start from a very small base. New infectious diseases always have high growth rates initially for this reason, if they grow at all.

High growth rates can be meaningful, of course. But check what the base is before you get excited or worried.