Parachutes Don’t Work

A 2018 British Medical Journal paper analyzed if using a parachute to prevent death/major trauma when jumping from an aircraft “worked” via a randomized controlled trial. 

The paper said… nope. They do not. Parachutes don’t work. 

Not for the reasons you’re thinking though. 

This is as Monty Python-ish a paper as you’ll find. What the authors wanted to do was point out the necessary analysis of understanding how the variables in RCTs impact the results. 

Because sometimes people just want a headline and not to understand the methodologies. 

Shocking, I know.

In the experiment, the “tested population” were jumping from parked planes, from the devastating height of about 2 feet. 

The parachutes didn’t matter to the tested audience. 

The paper’s answer was therefore correct. Per the test, parachutes don’t matter when jumping from a plane. 

If you look around, you see statements deserving further questioning all of the time. 

Especially when the question includes triggering our personally baked in assumptions about ideas like jumping from planes to test parachutes. We have to stop and think to wonder if the planes are in the air or on the ground. Seriously. 

The next eye-grabbing statistical headline you see – remember this paper.. 

h/t @c0nc0rdance on Twitter