The methodology is sound and credible. We'll just have to agree to disagree.
Here is an email I received today from an interested reader:
If we have a given population (JWs) with a unique attribute
that is suspected to have a certain effect compared to the general population
(non-JWs) that does not have that unique attribute then we need to find a means
of measuring the suspected effect within a defined population that represents
both the given and general populations.
The article published by Beliaev and company in the July
2012 issue of VoxSanguinis is useful because it gives a matched set of patients
with one set of patients representing the unique population (JWs) and the other
set of patients representing the general population (non-JWs). The sole
difference between these two patient sets was that one refused transfusion of
red cells to treat severe anemia and the other set did not.
Beliaev and company found that in the region from which
their medical data came there were 19 deaths over a 10-year period over and
beyond what the matched set of patients experienced in the general population.
Keep in mind this is a hard number. 19 deaths were due to refusing transfusion
of red cells to treat severe anemia. More than 19 deaths were suffered within
the set of JW patients. But 19 of them were found to be due to the unique
attribute of the JW population to refuse transfusion of red cells to treat
severe anemia. If we divide these 19 deaths by 10 (the number of years the study
gathered data for) it results in 1.9 deaths per year due solely to refusing
transfusion of red cells to treat severe anemia.
The region from which this data was gathered represents 57
percent of the total population of New Zealand. The JW population in New Zealand
for the 10-year period averaged 12,700 per year (this is the number of
“publishers” not the total number of all persons associated with the religion;
infants, bible studies, etc.). 57 percent of 12,700 is 7,239. Hence, compared to
the general population the JW population suffered 1.9 deaths per 7,239 of its
published number of “publishers” due to refusing transfusion of red cells to
treat severe anemia.
The ratio of 1.9 deaths per 7,239 publishers is not an
estimate. These are hard numbers. 1.9 is the actual average annual number of
deaths known to have occurred solely due to refusing transfusion of red cells to
treat severe anemia. The 7,239 is the actual published average number of JWs per
year for the same period and population from which the deaths occurred.
From here it’s basic math to calculate an estimate of
deaths suffered by the great population of JWs for refusing transfusion of red
cells to treat severe anemia. The numbers are staggering, and they’re hidden in
What makes an estimate based on these hard numbers
conservative? Several things. For one, the average life span for the general
population from which the data was collected is very high (very good), which
means the numbers are not skewed in an upward direction due to poor healthcare
or living conditions found in other population regions of the world. Also, the
1.9 value assumes there was not even a single death among JWs suffered in the
given population during the same 10-year period at any of the other scores of
hospitals in the same population region from which the data came, each of which
treats patients with severe anemia, hence using the 1.9 value does, if anything,
skew the estimate downward. Another thing this estimate ignores is even a single
death in the same region due to refusing products rendered from blood to treat
diseases other than severe anemia. Again, if anything this tamps any estimate
downward rather than upward.