1,000’s of Japans Centenarians Died Decades Ago, Average Life Expectancy “worse than we thought”…

Elderly people work out with wooden dumbbells in Tokyo on Respect for the Aged Day last year. Authorities have been left red-faced after it was revealed that it has thousands of people who are dead listed on record as still alive. Photograph: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

In another example of vital statistics being grossly distorted by a combination of poor record keeping and possibly people with a selfish agenda, it is being reported in the Guardian and elsewhere that possibly hundreds of thousands of people over age 100 in Japan are actually dead, but unreported. Investigations are now underway to determine how much of this problem is due to record keeping problems and how much to family members failing to report the deaths of their elderly relatives in order to continue to collect their pension benefits by fraudulent means.

There are more than 77,000 Japanese citizens reported to be over age 120, and even 884 persons AGED OVER 150 YEARS OF AGE, who are still alive according to government rolls.

While we in the US wouldn’t bat an eye if we heard this story coming out of the Chicago area of Cook County, Illinois, given the number of dead people still actively voting in elections there, there are at least 230,000 people in Japan over age 100 who simply cannot be located by any means. This large centenarian population is largely responsible for the very high average life expectancy in Japan (currently listed by the World Bank as 82.6 years, more than four years greater than the US average of 78.4 years (this is including dead voters in Chicago)), as well as any senior citizens under 100 who are actually dead but have not been reported as such on government records.

NOTE: Even if persons over 100 aren’t counted in life expectancy statistics, as is claimed later in the article, the problem doesn’t just begin at age 100, it is clear that whatever problems are at the root of these errors, they extend to a large number of people below age 100 who are also dead but are listed as alive on government records.

This distortion in Japan’s real average life expectancy is a great example of how a large body of statistics can be spoiled by poor record keeping or outright fraud.

Where this becomes problematic for us in the US is that Japan’s high life expectancy has been repeatedly used by the left as “facts” to support their demands for universal health care as well as various changes in the dietary, smoking, and exercise habits of Americans, frequently associated with proposals for large amounts of government regulation and taxation of the lives of private citizens and regulation and banning of various legal products (soda pop, breakfast cereals, beef, etc). We should look on the exposure of this statistical error as an object lesson we can apply to other public policy issues that so-called scientists attempt to promote ‘solutions’ to problems that they claim exist, based on faulty facts.

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133 thoughts on “1,000’s of Japans Centenarians Died Decades Ago, Average Life Expectancy “worse than we thought”…

  1. If only you had finished reading the article before venting. The last paragraph reads:
    The government said the findings would have a minimal impact on longevity figures, which are based on census data collated during home visits. In addition, men over 98 and women over 103 are not factored into life expectancy calculations.

    REPLY: Yes, we’ve heard that claim before…. – Mike

  2. It reminds me of the pre-amble in the “Guiness Book of (World) Records” to the effect of:

    …there is no category in the history of records with more cases of fraud or misrepresentation than the records of extreme human longevity”

  3. Actually the real quote is

    No single subject is more obscured by vanity, deceit, falsehood, and deliberate fraud than the extremes of human longevity.”

  4. “The government said the findings would have a minimal impact on longevity figures, which are based on census data collated during home visits. In addition, men over 98 and women over 103 are not factored into life expectancy calculations.”

    I guess this last paragraph from the guardian’s article nullify the point you’re making in your own last paragraph.

    REPLY: No, it doesn’t. It’s just typical government CYA. The fact is that the problem doesn’t start at age 100. Whatever problems are behind these errors, they extend to a large number of people less than 100 years of age who are dead but are listed as living as well. – Mike

  5. If true, the story is amusing (to me in the UK, not paying for it); but until someone shows the math I won’t believe the fraud is on scale that would make a discernable difference to Japanese longevity.

  6. Mike: This looks like an echo chamber effect here. You and everyone else is using this 230k missing centenarians figure without linking to the demographics of Japan. That’s a lot of people to allow to die without obtaining a death certificate. Also, I don’t like your linking this to policies of the “left”, since I represent the left; the left that is sure the planet isn’t warming due to industry.

    It’s very easy to “outlive” the rest of the world with only a few percentage more centenarians. This article points to a cohort of 41k centenarians: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10672507

    So, what are the actual numbers before you start tee-ing off on leftists and universal health care?

  7. BTW Is Paul Ralph Ehrlich still around?, how is it going his famous forecast “India couldn’t possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980” ?

  8. Try again, I’ll bold the important bit.

    “The government said the findings would have a minimal impact on longevity figures, which are based on census data collated during home visits. In addition, men over 98 and women over 103 are not factored into life expectancy calculations.”

    Continuing to collect someone’s pension after death is one thing – fooling a census taker who’s actually in your house at the time is quite another.

  9. I don’t see a problem. We have people in Chicago who have been dead for a hundred years still voting….

  10. Japan’s 2000 census report is available online.
    They make no exclusion for people over 98/103.
    Everyone over 65 is grouped in the over 65 catagory.

    “In addition, men over 98 and women over 103 are not factored into life expectancy calculations.”

    That’s total hogwash.
    Why do it at all then?

  11. It is unfortunate that life expectancy is defined as the mean age at death. It’s hard to imagine how median age could be significantly affected by the non-reporting of deaths of the most elderly Japanese. The mean age is another matter entirely. The non-reporting of infant mortality, or the misreporting of infant mortality as stillbirth is a larger statistical problem for many countries that inflates both the mean and median life expectancy at birth figures. Life expectancy figures in general are prone to all sorts of statistical mischief. Age-specific median life expectancy, such as median life expectancy at 5 years of age, is a more robust figure.

  12. DocattheAutopsy says:
    September 13, 2010 at 8:27 am

    I don’t see a problem. We have people in Chicago who have been dead for a hundred years still voting….

    ====================

    A large number of ‘metabolically challenged’ residents of the great State of Louisiana are just as dedicated to executing their responsibilities with regard to voting as are the ‘metabolically challenged’ residents of the State of Illinois!

  13. Dead People in Chicago Vote. But they do not add to the longevity of the US! They do add to the deadgevity, but then like Francisco Franco, there has been no change in their status. They are still dead!

    On the serious side, I wonder how many other countries are in a similar bind. In other words, is America really fatal to your health? Or just anal retentive when it comes to record keeping?

  14. The Japanese from what I have heard are fairly heavy smokers and drinkers-
    sort of like the so called ” French Paradox”. Also there is a unique homogeneity
    in the Japanese population. So wha tis good for them isn’t so for the American
    population. -I’m convinced Tofu Kills :-) ….

  15. Mike,
    As you state, it is a question of the accuracy of the data. If the data used for life expectancy is genuinely obtained only by way of census conducted at a home visit and if that census consists of actually seeing (and preferably verifying by id) the number of people alive in the household, then the point that you make that there will be many peopled claimed alive but actually dead below the age of 100 is wrong. Anyone who is dead say at the age of 90 wouldn’t be counted in a home visit since ex hypothesis that person could not present themselves.
    I accept that errors could well creep in if quality control regarding the manner in which data is collected and recorded is poor. This, of course, is one of the problems with the so called global temperature stastics

  16. Peter Ellis says:
    September 13, 2010 at 8:26 am
    “……… Continuing to collect someone’s pension after death is one thing – fooling a census taker who’s actually in your house at the time is quite another.”
    =========================================================

    You’re kidding, right? You must have some knowledge about how their census is more accurate than ours. If they act or operate in any manner similar to ours, then “fooling” a census taker is ridiculously easy. But then, one quarter of a million misplaced “centenarians” seems to point to the ease of fooling Japanese bureaucrats.

    Funny stuff to find resistance to questioning a longevity myth. Why is it important for people to believe that one group is living longer than another?

  17. “We should look on the exposure of this statistical error as an object lesson we can apply to other public policy issues that so-called scientists attempt to promote ‘solutions’ to problems that they claim exist, based on faulty facts.”

    If the battleground over public policy issues is fought on the basis of statistics, you will always lose. Gov’t will always have more statistics.
    The real battlefield is ‘rights’ and if you can’t even argue an issue on moral grounds, you lose with the acceptance of the premise that you’ve given up your rights – and are only dickering on the price.

  18. Having lived in Japan for 15+ years and observed the pressures to conform, etc., I could not think of a single factor that would lead to increased longevity (apart from quite a good health system).

    IanM

  19. I also think this is a stretch to subtly compare this with …and I mean to say it boldly… possible fraud in temperature/CO2 data driving policy decisions. To add the “left” remark paints this post author as having an ax to grind instead of wanting to report facts.

    Are there not Davids, Chets, or Cronkites left in this world?

  20. UnfrozenCavemanMD says:
    September 13, 2010 at 8:41 am

    “The non-reporting of infant mortality, or the misreporting of infant mortality as stillbirth is a larger statistical problem for many countries that inflates both the mean and median life expectancy at birth figures.”
    =========================================================

    I thought it was worth repeating. This is where the largest divergence of life expectancy occurs. Many countries count infant mortality differently than the U.S. Even without fraudulent intent, people are simply counted differently. So, when making a comparison as far as life expectancy its apples and oranges. I don’t know why people obsess about such trivia. Is it really that important to believe some people may outlive another group of people for an average of a couple of years?

  21. For our warmist friends, the point here is:

    “We should look on the exposure of this statistical error as an object lesson we can apply to other public policy issues that so-called scientists attempt to promote ‘solutions’ to problems that they claim exist, based on faulty facts.”

  22. With a population of 127 million, this is .2% right here.
    IT is quite possible that over one percent of the Japanese population is actually dead.

  23. JDN
    September 13, 2010 at 8:21 am

    “Also, I don’t like your linking this to policies of the “left”, …”

    Too bad! The left deserves all of its criticism and then some. The linkage is clear. You lefties will use any lie to destroy liberty. Bad data is bad data, no amount of itach (weasel) logic will change that.

  24. You may find this of interst:

    http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/STATS/table4c6.html

    The MEDIAN lifetime is used for life expectancy. For men in the US, it’s between 79 and 80, for women it’s between 83 and 84.

    Note that there are about 10 times as may people over 90 as over 100. That would imply that underreporting of centennarian deaths may be about 1/10 of the problem.

    There are about 80 million people in Japan. 230,000 is about 287.5 out of 100,000
    or only a fraction of a year difference in life expectancy. If the underreporting is
    similarly proportional in the 90+ population, the underreporting could be 10 times as great or about 2875 out of 100,000- that would make a difference in close to a year
    in life expectancy, a little more for women, a little less for men.

  25. “Where this becomes problematic for us in the US is that Japan’s high life expectancy has been repeatedly used by the left as “facts” to support their demands for universal health care as well as various changes in the dietary, smoking, and exercise habits of Americans, frequently associated with proposals for large amounts of government regulation and taxation of the lives of private citizens and regulation and banning of various legal products (soda pop, breakfast cereals, beef, etc). We should look on the exposure of this statistical error as an object lesson we can apply to other public policy issues that so-called scientists attempt to promote ‘solutions’ to problems that they claim exist, based on faulty facts.”

    This sounds like it is linking the climate skeptic movement to the Republican party, anti-healthcare and the tobacco lobyists, which is a constant allusion made on alarmist sites.

    I would like to distance myself from the opinion and think WUWT shouldn’t stray into this territory because it unnecessarily divides us when we don’t need to be; there is nothing about politics in the site description -‘Commenting on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology and recent news by Anthony Watts’.

    Such comments can also be pounced upon by unscrupulous people and used against us for some crazy reason.

  26. I tried to do the math and came up with a new life expectancy of 82.56 instead of 82.60. It does not seem that 250,000 earlier deaths makes that much of a difference to a population of 127 million. I assumed that the average missing person was 105 year old.

    127,000,000 people times 82.60 equals 10,490,200,000 age years
    250,000.00 people times 105.00equals 26,250,000 age years
    what’s left
    126,750,000 people and 10,463,950,000 age years
    So the 10,463,950,000 divided by 126,750,000 people equals 82.56

  27. Pamela Gray says:
    September 13, 2010 at 9:09 am
    (…
    Are there not Davids, Chets, or Cronkites left in this world?
    —–Reply:
    I haven’t seen anybody on the Left willing to ask difficult questions, if that’s what you mean. (Anybody else willing to ask difficult questions is castigated and branded a heretic, so it becomes a matter of right vs might.) Now whether David, Chet or Cronkite are still voting, that’s another question altogether.

  28. To Philip Thomas, in reply to your comment: “there is nothing about politics in the site description -’Commenting on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology and recent news by Anthony Watts’.”
    Politics is discussing how people organise life, so the site description does include politics. Not party politics perhaps, but politics per se, yes.

  29. “recent news by Anthony Watts’.” isn’t devoid of politics. Obviously, “Politics” doesn’t have to be listed in the masthead as long as the items “life” and “recent news” are. Besides, much of what is known (or falsified) about “life, nature, science, weather, climate change, and technology” is used by the government for beneficial or controlling purposes, as recent news indicates.

  30. There is more than one registry in Japan and the Family Registry, which has these problems, is not the one used for the longevity statistics or even for the payment of pensions – that is part of another registry.
    Re. Alan Macintire above,there are 127 million people (slowly declining) in Japan.
    This is interesting news, partly for the light it throws on Japan’s difficulty in acknowledging errors in written information and partly because it will also lead to a clean up of the other registries, given the possibility of pension fraud.
    It will not make any significant change to Japan as the longevity champs.

  31. There is a recent study that indicates Americans have the longest life expectancy if deaths by homicide and traffic accidents are factored out. Then too, we count our infant deaths for all that are born alive. This data puts most other nations’ health care systems to shame.

  32. Funny stuff that some here don’t wish reality to creep into the climate debate. Life expectancy was indeed a “talking point” brought up by the left in reference to the health care debate. The beef(meat eating) issue has been embraced by many parts of the left and even framed it as a climate issue and a health issue. Statistical gymnastics have been employed in both the health care debate and climate debate. I understand compartmentalizing, but there’s no point in burying our head in the sand pretending that some of these issues don’t overlap. Or that some of the same people bring up these “talking points” regardless of the issue being discussed. This may not be the best venue, but I don’t know if there is a better one.

  33. “We should look on the exposure of this statistical error as an object lesson we can apply to other public policy issues that so-called scientists attempt to promote ‘solutions’ to problems that they claim exist, based on faulty facts.”

    GeoFlynx – Yeah, those darn scientists and all their so called facts. Mike, did you ever consider that a steady diet of Marlborough’s and Coco Puffs just might be raising health care costs for everyone. The right to sell and consume proven unhealthy products should be linked with the consequences, not only on the individual, but to the society as a whole. Freedom to sell “snake oil” as medicine should be no more guaranteed than the freedom to sell “sugar” to children as food. Those “so called” scientists with their “cigarettes and too much sugar is bad for you,” just might be telling us something that benefits us all.

  34. The math is secondary to a Main Stream Media that has embelished the Japanese life style as something that will get you past 100. MSM really dosn’t pay attention to math, its the hype they are looking for, just like global warming ALARMISM. Also follow the money, who has made all the money on green tea and has had no interest in this information coming to the light of day.

  35. “family members failing to report the deaths of their elderly relatives in order to continue to collect their pension benefits by fraudulent means.”

    Whoodathunkit! I’m sure glad nothing like that goes on in the USA.

    /sarc

  36. Huth says:
    September 13, 2010 at 9:58 am

    All civilised countries have universal health care in place, don’t they?
    Has it increased longevity? If so your life expectancy has increased recently….though jobless :-)

  37. Alan, McIntire:

    the problem with your math is that doesn’t include the actual age at death. Sogen Kato, the man whose body set off this whole brouhaha, was listed as Tokyo’s oldest man being 111 years old but in fact he died before reaching the official mean age for Japanese males. If the average corpus-sans-mentis centenarian became deceased at the young age of 70 it would lower the median life expectancy more than your calculations. You also seem to be confining the non-reporting of death to centenarians, however there is no reason to believe that nonagenarians, octogenarians and even septuagenarians (such as Sogen Kato) are not capable of adopting the post-vital lifestyle.

  38. “Huth says:
    September 13, 2010 at 10:02 am
    To Philip Thomas, in reply to your comment: “there is nothing about politics in the site description -’Commenting on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology and recent news by Anthony Watts’.”
    Politics is discussing how people organise life, so the site description does include politics. Not party politics perhaps, but politics per se, yes.”

    Also in reply to RockyRoad – September 13, 2010 at 10:04 am ”

    The paragraph I was refering to was divisory like no post I have seen on WUWT.
    The link to ‘the left’s attempts to push healthcare was extremely tenuous. It is claimed that ‘the left’s attempts are now ‘problematic’ by this statistical embarassment but as Mark Baker has pointed out, there is no statistical significance and there is certainly nothing that would make anybody consider policy changes.

    “Mark Baker says:
    September 13, 2010 at 9:48 am
    I tried to do the math and came up with a new life expectancy of 82.56 instead of 82.60. ”

    I think the politics were shoehorned in at the end for another purpose; perhaps to make the commenters disclose their political allegiances.

  39. Let’s suppose the old timers are living. Looks like the droughts, malaria, floods, heat waves pestilence and peril predicted as deadly just hasn’t done any damage.

  40. These japanese longevity claims remind me of the purported longevity of Caucasus population dating back to uncle Stalin times. Somehow after Stalin’s death it has become impossible to locate all those 110 – 120 years old folks. Perhaps they’ve moved to Japan.

  41. This post reminds me of the “black sheep” story in the UK where farmers were claiming EU subsidies for number of sheep being farmed and a tidy buck was made by transporting a particular flock across the country in order to present to inspectors during visits. Whether true or a ‘rural’ myth, it tickles me still.

  42. Sorry, Phillip, if by “divisory” you mean you want some comments struck because they have political overtones, I don’t agree. If the person says something stupid, let it be recognized as such, but if he exposes a truth, let it be heard. If the person says something that’s not Politically Correct by your definition, that’s just tough. Nothing should be censored unless it is completely off topic, at which point they can put it in the correct post (or request such a post be started). Start controlling comments and I’m outta here. (Also why I never visit RealClimate (an oxymoron, of course).)

  43. People of pure Japanese ancestry living in Hawaii live a lot longer than other people in Hawaii, or other Americans generally. Sugar plantation workers, largely Japanese-Americans, were the longest-lived labor group in the US.

    They smoked a lot, didn’t eat much meat. Go figure.

  44. Stereotypical beliefs of this party or that will bite you in the arse every time. For general educational purposes, here are the party platforms going back to their inception. Interesting reading, for what they say, as well as for what they don’t say. Remember, platforms are for commercial persuasive purposes. What discrepancy between what we say and what we do as a party is as important as the correlations. The Democratic party, now referred to as the “left” used to be as far right as you can get without meeting up with your left hand.

    http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/platforms.php

  45. I am amazed at there being more than one person posting here who believes that all counted in a census of any country are required to “present” themselves to be counted.

    Can they have possibly have participated in the very recent US census? To whom did they present themselves?

    They as as likely to present in the town square and and be counted by the mayor personally in those little villages such as London, Berlin and Moscow or perhaps New York City. Could it be completed on the morning coffee break?

    Once again I find myself an unbeliever.

  46. “RockyRoad says:
    September 13, 2010 at 10:47 am
    Sorry, Phillip, if by “divisory” you mean you want some comments struck because they have political overtones, I don’t agree. If the person says something stupid, let it be recognized as such, but if he exposes a truth, let it be heard. If the person says something that’s not Politically Correct by your definition, that’s just tough. Nothing should be censored unless it is completely off topic, at which point they can put it in the correct post (or request such a post be started). Start controlling comments and I’m outta here. (Also why I never visit RealClimate (an oxymoron, of course).)”

    I do not want any comments struck. This was a post given the honour of appearing on the WUWT board; a post that made a politically divisory conclusion from a false premise. ‘the left’ s embarrassment was invented. The author set up a straw man and catapulted off into an analogy between the tobacco lobby and the climate skepticism. It is all based on a false premise, as anyone with rudimentary maths can discover, so can easily be picked apart by WUWT-hating bloggers or Guardian readers (the original story is from the Guardian so their readers may well find themselves directed here). I can see the headlines now; worse still if it appears that WUWT commenters appear to be anti-healthcare.

    Sun Tzu could have written a volumes about the interweb.

  47. You are right about the census. I didn’t send in my “fill in the blanks and just send it in” form (including filling in the dependent section: yes my aunt is still living with me at the amazing age of 210 years old and she is my dependent). So I had a census worker come to my door. Because I am a single woman, I met with the person on my front porch. I could have been harboring any number of dead or alive persons in my house and the census worker would not have known.

  48. I also prefer that Anthony use a rather light hand at posts, but a stronger hand with comments. People’s organized, original, posted articles should see the light of day and let them live or fall by the comments. And people’s comments should be done with civility and manners. I don’t care to sup with pigs but topics fairly presented should be subjected to mannered scrutiny.

  49. GeoFlynx says:
    September 13, 2010 at 10:26 am

    “Those “so called” scientists with their “cigarettes and too much sugar is bad for you,” just might be telling us something that benefits us all.”
    =========================================================
    I think you are the first person to bring up smoking in this discussion. Apparently, you are under the impression that Japanese don’t smoke as much as others. Wrong. http://www.japanprobe.com/2010/07/04/smoking-in-japan/ Not sure about the Cocoa Puffs, but either way you look at it, some conventional beliefs are in conflict and if we really want to honestly understand which are correct assumptions and which are not, you’d have to be willing to confront some of the assertions “scientists” make. It is something I like to call “critical thinking”.

  50. JDN, If they’re using the median, then you have to remove that 3% and go that far down the median line. Actually, half that amount, and see what that number is.
    So the new median life expectancy would be the previous 48.5% number. Perhaps there is some cheating that is caught below the median line as well.

  51. Mod, I’m not sure why this happens, but I think my post went to the black hole again. If anyone can give me some insight as to why this occurs, I’d be happy to try and correct it from this end. Thanks.

    [Rescued & posted. WordPress knows why posts end up in the Spam folder, but they don’t reveal their algorithm. We don’t always know why, unless it’s because they contain too many links. ~dbs, mod.]

  52. What I personally don’t care for in the article is the leap to conclusions based on incomplete information. Isn’t the careful analysis of available data what this website is all about? I’m no fan of American national healthcare or Japanese national healthcare (and I lived in Japan for about 7 years), but the quick smear based on having read one news article is the anthesis of what I expect here.

    Now to the question before us:
    Japanese government computer databases identifying individuals are riddled with problems. Here’s an abstract of one article about that subject by Professor of Economics, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University:
    http://www.ier.hit-u.ac.jp/pie/stage2/English/report/PR0906/3.1%20takayama.pdf

    Essentially the problem boils down to the difficulty encountered some decades back when attempting to computerize complex kanji character names from paper records.

    Quote from the article Since there are variations in the correct pronunciation of Japanese names consisting of the same Chinese characters, it was necessary to ask each individual to verify the correct pronunciation of their name.
    However, the correct pronunciations of the names were not asked in processing punch cards, mainly due to budget limitations. Card punchers were forced to mechanically assign one pronunciation of each Chinese character, correct or wrong. Mistakes made in the process of transferring the records from the old format to the new one remained long uncorrected.

    Thus many of the statistics regarding the older population whose records were transcribed into digital form in the 1960’s are suspect.

    I make no claims about how this fact will affect the average age of the population, but introduce the fact to aid those who wish to make a proper analysis rather than assuming that the world is going to boil over.

  53. Philip Thomas says:
    September 13, 2010 at 11:14 am

    “….a post that made a politically divisory conclusion from a false premise. ‘the left’ s embarrassment was invented…..”
    =========================================================

    So, the constant comparisons of the U.S. longevity to (pick a nation), tied to regulation and taxation in the form of outlawed foods, taxed tobacco, forced insurance purchase(guised as punishing the evil insurance companies, go figure), ect. is not coming from the left? The left’s embarrassment is, indeed, invented, but by the left itself.

    As Pamela has shown, defining the left is fairly subjective, so, when I speak of the left, I frame it in the context of what I believe the left is and perhaps not what you view it as.

    It’s simply amazing to me to see so many people skeptical of climate science but none of the other outrageous assertions that have been made in the past by activists.

  54. The fine (but rather gruesome) art of Sokushinbutsu or just plain fraud by Sogen Kato’s caring family? Wich includes his wife who died at the age 101 in 2004. Or did she (O_o)?

    Our Anime Festival (www.animecon.nl) in 2011 has the “Undead” as theme called “The childeren of the night” since it is our 13th edition, and the undead are alive and well in Japan, but it gets a whole new meaning in this way :)

  55. Regarding extreme age, may I draw your attention to the website
    http://www.grg.org and specifically their tables –
    http://www.grg.org/Adams/Tables.htm
    This website, which appears to me to be more authoritative than Guinness [certainly now Guinness has gone all media-driven] allows only one undisputed 120th birthday – Jeanne Calment, a Frenchwoman who passed 122.
    Interestingly, there are only eight undisputed Japanese in the top 50 ‘supercentenarians’ [those confirmed and validated as over 110 years old] of all time. Two other Japanese claims – both in the top ten – but disputed. Also five Brits, and eighteen who were born in the US [and at least a couple of immigrants].
    Probably statistically insignifcant, and partly an artefact of early record-keeping, I know, but possibly interesting.

  56. It looks like my post also ended up in a black hole, i try again.

    The fine (but rather gruesome) art of Sokushinbutsu or just plain fraud by Sogen Kato’s caring family? Wich includes his wife who died at the age 101 in 2004. Or did she (O_o)?

    Our Anime Festival (www . animecon . nl) in 2011 has the “Undead” as theme called “The childeren of the night” since it is our 13th edition, and the undead are alive and well in Japan, but it gets a whole new meaning in this way :)

  57. lOKKI says:
    September 13, 2010 at 11:42 am

    “I’m no fan of American national healthcare or Japanese national healthcare (and I lived in Japan for about 7 years), but the quick smear based on having read one news article is the anthesis of what I expect here.”
    =========================================================
    I’m not sure what was “smeared”, but I read the article as a call to actually look at the numbers and confront some conventionally held views. Which, is exactly what I’ve come to expect here.

  58. Defining the right is equally subjective and I have been guilty of stereotypical statements regarding that party. A read of their platform statements, along with the stuff written in-between the lines, puts me in my place with a rather tanned hide. Painting with a wide brush is always a crude portrayal of complicated issues.

  59. “GeoFlynx – Yeah, those darn scientists and all their so called facts. Mike, did you ever consider that a steady diet of Marlborough’s and Coco Puffs just might be raising health care costs for everyone. The right to sell and consume proven unhealthy products should be linked with the consequences, not only on the individual, but to the society as a whole. Freedom to sell “snake oil” as medicine should be no more guaranteed than the freedom to sell “sugar” to children as food. Those “so called” scientists with their “cigarettes and too much sugar is bad for you,” just might be telling us something that benefits us all.”

    The only reason that people’s individual behaviors and choices can inflict large societal costs and hence be used to to justify greatly enhanced monitoring, hectoring, and regulation by exponentially burgeoning governmental organizations is because the false notion that people have a “right” to expect others to bear the cost of those bad choices has been systematically ingrained in the population. In the the last half century we have moved from a point where most people covered as much of their personal healthcare costs out-of -pocket as was provided by others to where in the not distant future more than 90% of those costs will be on someone else’s dime.

    Not surprisingly, that era was also marked by healthcare costs rising at a large multiple of the core inflation rate. The current”Big Solution” of expanding the subsidy that people expect to receive while hoping that we can control the soaring costs by getting everyone to just do as our”scientifically” guided overlords demand is so incredibly ignorant that only someone who has spent their life cocooned away from reality within a bubble of Socialist delusion would even consider it. Unfortunately our politicians, like all good dope pushers, know they have their junkies hooked. Only a small minority of the population even remember when being a leech on the backside of your fellow man was considered a humiliation, not a God given “right”. Most have been convinced that they couldn’t possibly survive without the kindly munificence of the political class.

    It’s quite sad, because if the populous could ever be convinced to look at the healthcare system rationally again, there are relatively simple and provenly effective measures ( high deductible catastrophic insurance plans combined with HSAs, loser pays tort reform, interstate availability of insurance plans, etc.) which while they can’t make the system perfect, would transform it from a looming”crisis” to the chronic PITA it was formerly. If we really want adequate and affordable healthcare, we’d be much better served by getting the politicians entirely out of it and turning it over to the guys running WalMart.

  60. Winston Churchchill once quite correctly remarked . There are lies , outright lies and then there is statistics . Presently it is looking that the US government and its institutions are acting in full agreement with his words . Statistics are generally used to get the favoured message across to the general public . If the message is no longer supported by the statistics then it is time to get the message across another way , or are we denials totally mistaken ? Be prepared , my very passionate concerned scientists and pseudo-scientists , it may get very chilly in the warmers-church within short ………

  61. awww, vapid left-baiting smears, a proud tradition of the “right” blogosphere. God knows no one on the “right” has ever manipulated statistics for their own ideological agenda. If your intention with this article is to preach to the choir, then mission accomplished.

  62. Their seems to be a widely held view on this thread that: smoking is bad for you, that soda pop and boxed cereals won’t do you much harm. Hmm.

    Many statistical frauds have been been committed over many years and such is my interest. I come to this site daily because of that particular interest. IMO there have been three gigantic frauds over the last sixty years which have impinged on the lives of every one of us. The poor state of temperature records and the way these have been abused by statistical means is the third of the three and that case is not yet lost. Why fructose will certainly kill you in the long run is in a slightly different class and I will not go into that here.

    If you believe that smoking will kill you the reason for your belief is that the late Professor Sir Richard Doll said so. (He got the knighthood for his service to medicine). That was his hypothesis and he proceeded to ‘prove’ it by statistical means. His data collection comprised of questionnaires compiled by physicians and related only to their own smoking habits, or lack of them. In climate science we might compare this with collecting temperature data by asking a few thousand climatologists around the world to report twice a year on what they thought about the weather. Smoking may indeed be bad for one but the sloppy methods of Professor Doll will never tell us.

    The other major statistical fraud was that of the late Professor Ancel Keys. He was the fellow who persuaded you, with deliberately false statistics, that you should avoid saturated fats. As with smoking, there is not one tittle of scientific evidence that animal fats in moderation will harm you. If you believe otherwise, then you have been misled by false statistical manipulation. There were skeptics in both of these cases, and some eminent people amongst them. Sadly, we had no internet, no blogs, no WUWT.

  63. I wonder how many dead weather stations are still reporting. For example, the Delaware OH USHCN station hasn’t had a daily reading since Jan 2001, but was still cranking out monthly averages demonstrating warming through 2006 when I checked the USHCN2 figures. This may still be going on, though I haven’t figured out how to unzip UCHCN3 yet.

    Perhaps Japan’s vital statistics office “homogenizes” individual records the way NCDC does weather stations, so that an individual is considered to be alive if enough neighbors are still living!

  64. “John Hayte says:
    September 13, 2010 at 12:58 pm
    awww, vapid left-baiting smears, a proud tradition of the “right” blogosphere. God knows no one on the “right” has ever manipulated statistics for their own ideological agenda. If your intention with this article is to preach to the choir, then mission accomplished.”

    I knew would happen because of this article. ‘vapid left-baiting smears’ – he is absolutely right; the smears were baseless! Somebody decided to air the article and it has given THEM ammunition. It is almost as if somebody wanted this to happen.

  65. max ( September 13, 2010 at 10:30 am )
    “…the post-vital lifestyle.”
    ========
    I like that expression, but I suspect that the PC term is “vitality-challenged.”
    Let us not descend into vitalism, prejudice in favor of the live and against the vitality-challenged.

  66. frederik wisse says:
    September 13, 2010 at 12:57 pm
    You are right: Since science research was replaced by statistics…it happened with it the same as to politicians.

  67. If you believe that smoking is particularly bad for you, it is because you have not had due skepticism for the mindless statistical methods of the late Professor Richard Doll. If you did not eat bacon and eggs and sausage for you breakfast this morning it is because you have not troubled to examine the deliberate falsification of statistics by the late Professor Ancel Keys. If you ate boxed cereal for your breakfast this morning it is because of the unwillingness of the FDA and its cousins around the world to act against the money interests of the food industry and your own failure to study the findings of many eminent physicians regarding the dangers of high fructose corn syrup. If you believe that the world is warming outside of the norms of natural change it is because you accept the statistical competence of Jones, Hansen, Mann et al.

    The biggest danger that faces us all it is not so much that of political manipulation per se (it is with us and always will be) but the blind acceptance of what statistics supposedly tell us.

  68. Life style not access to health care is what make the difference once you have reached a very basic minimuse level of health care. The UK has a universal government health care system with only a small private sector. The government system basically has medical records on 100% of the population and they show this clearly. There are hugh differences in the life expectancy of the poor norther north and the richer south, and between income groups in the same area.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/jun/09/health.welfare

  69. I think it is increasingly clear that the conventional system of delineating the political spectrum is entirely inadequate and only serves to introduce exploitable confusion into any discussion that involves politics. Some time past I read a piece that suggested the true spread of political thought should be portrayed on line which runs from those that value individual freedom and liberty highest on one end to those that embrace governmental authority as the ultimate solution on the other. On the this spectrum the extreme “right” is occupied by radical anarchists who deny the legitimacy of any government blending through degrees of libertarianism toward Constitutional republicans(small r), while the extreme “left” would be the province of feudal monarchists, despotic dictatorships, Stalinists, Maoists, and Fascists blending toward varieties of Socialism. Under this schema the Democrats would still be left of the Republicans, but both would fall well to the left of center. Our Founding Fathers would fall to the right of center, but closer to the midpoint than to the extreme. The fundamental question to ask when attempting to place political beliefs on this graph is “Who do these people believe is most capable of making the best choices concerning actions and events in your personal life, you, or the government and its apparatchiks?”

  70. OK, how ’bout a show of hands: who else was shocked reading such a vacuous article on these grounds?

    This piece reads like Rush Limbaugh or Joe Romm (take your pick). Basically, the premise here is that health care reform was enacted because somebody clubbed us all to death with Japanese longevity statistics. What this position “smears” is the intelligence of a good portion of the population (WUWT readers included) who reason well beyond this 30 second political ad. My guess is you won’t see much tolerance in your readership for shotgun blasts like this one.

    Now, can we please get back to saving the free world from raving environmentalists?

  71. I am not questioning the conclusions or the motives, but I am wondering about the methods of the Japanese census takers.

    Is it really possible that every household in Japan was visited in order to collate census data, and that all citizens were required to be present when the census taker called? Were the sick dragged out of hospital to attend, holidays cancelled, business trips curtailed ………..

    As with so many claims by statisticians, I remain a sceptic.

  72. Ken Harvey, I’ll be OK then cos I don’t think therre are any statistics about what I eat for breakfast. I suppose I could make some up….

  73. Dave Wendt says (September 13, 2010 at 12:49 pm): ‘The current”Big Solution” of expanding the subsidy that people expect to receive while hoping that we can control the soaring costs by getting everyone to just do as our”scientifically” guided overlords demand is so incredibly ignorant that only someone who has spent their life cocooned away from reality within a bubble of Socialist delusion would even consider it.’

    Don’t beat around the bush, Dave, tell us how you really feel. :-)

    Like Pamela Gray, I also met the very nice census taker outside the house while I was doing yard work; for all he knew I could have been the gardener. It’s a good thing no important decisions are based on such flimsy data.

    Oh, wait…

  74. We need the actual standards and procedures which Japan is using for preparing its longevity data. We need to examine whether people are excluded who are consistently two meters from a tombstone, as we know that tends to affect things such as their body temperature.

    I have heard reports that the Japanese government will soon be sending people to do on-site surveys of their centenarians.

  75. >> GeoFlynx says:
    September 13, 2010 at 10:26 am
    Mike, did you ever consider that a steady diet of Marlborough’s and Coco Puffs just might be raising health care costs for everyone. The right to sell and consume proven unhealthy products should be linked with the consequences, not only on the individual, but to the society as a whole. <<

    Everyone has to die. If someone dies of lung cancer from smoking, there is a cost of medical care for that disease. However, that person eliminated all future medical costs by dying early, and there would be a net financial benefit 'to society' in their use of cigarettes, not to mention early cessation of Social Security (U.S.) or whatever other retirement payments came from 'society.'

    Of course if some valuable person died early 'society' would lose his future contributions, but there's no difference between his failure to produce because he chose a shorter but more pleasant life vs. his failure to produce by retiring from production and playing golf. Do you believe 'society' has the right to force someone to continue producing if that person would prefer to retire?

    I can't speak for Coco Puffs, but the principle is presumably the same for any early death.

  76. James Sexton says:
    September 13, 2010 at 11:37 am
    GeoFlynx says:
    September 13, 2010 at 10:26 am

    “Those “so called” scientists with their “cigarettes and too much sugar is bad for you,” just might be telling us something that benefits us all.”
    =========================================================
    I think you are the first person to bring up smoking in this discussion. Apparently, you are under the impression that Japanese don’t smoke as much as others. Wrong. http://www.japanprobe.com/2010/07/04/smoking-in-japan/ Not sure about the Cocoa Puffs, but either way you look at it, some conventional beliefs are in conflict and if we really want to honestly understand which are correct assumptions and which are not, you’d have to be willing to confront some of the assertions “scientists” make. It is something I like to call “critical thinking

    GeoFlynx – Smoking WAS mentioned along with dietary habits and exercise in the main body of this post. In terms of “critical thinking” you might consider the source of your information. Myself, I will take conventional medical science over the opinions of industry advocates and tobaco lobbyists. Heartland Institute anyone?

  77. >> Peter Ellis says:
    September 13, 2010 at 8:26 am
    Continuing to collect someone’s pension after death is one thing – fooling a census taker who’s actually in your house at the time is quite another. <<

    And bribing a census taker so that you can continue to receive pension checks for your dead grandfather is a third possibility. Six months worth of pension checks could make for a sizeable bribe.

  78. Observation from 2004 visit to Japan (3 weeks, business..)

    Japanese drink (alcohol) like fish.

    They smoke like 1945 factories without scrubbers!

    They are SLIM because of:

    1. Genetics
    2. Mild Climate and still doing a lot of walking and biking (and close in communities which make that possible.)
    3. Proportions on meals are good and not as “excessive” as in many Western/American establishments. (I typically carry 1/2 my meal home and get TWO meals for 1 many places I pay for a “sit down” meal.

    The low cardiac rate may be due to:

    A. Genetics
    B. Fish oil.
    C. Under-reporting
    D. See above, walking and biking…

    I AM NOT IMPRESSED. (OK, ok, I inline skate 14 to 16 miles a day, or bike 20 miles or cross country ski 2 hours…I don’t smoke, and drink about one beer every 2 months..)

    But you want to get me into the “Japanese style” of living? I have to start smoking and drinking much more seriously. (And cut down on my exercise, as the “typical” Japanese is doing 3 to 6 miles walking, 4 to 10 miles biking per day..)

    Max

  79. Japanese longevity has been used by the left to justify universal healthcare: Huffington post, “The steady increase in Japan’s longevity largely reflects good medical treatment …”

    The discovery of the mummified body (32 years dead) shows that this is a long-term problem and that it is not difficult for pension-fraudsters to evade discovery for more than 30 years. I’ve spent a total of more than four months in Japan and I love the country, the culture and the people. But the typical Japanese businessman lives a lifestyle of drinking and smoking that would shock the average American. The Japanese even have a word that means dying-suddenly-at-your-desk.

    Anthony, thanks for bring this up and for putting it in the proper context. The Medical Industrial Complex sucks up 16% of our GPD but annual accident medial deaths exceed deaths from auto accidents. Medicine in America (and the rest of the developed world) has a far more significant negative impact on our daily lives than climate change or the politics and spending surrounding it.

    The amount of rigged science in medicine is enough to make a CRU climatologist turn green with envy. (Green is the color of money.) Climate alarmists are bothersome and annoying — and fun to pick on — but your family doctor, local hospital, and local pharmacist are far more likely to kill you … for money.

    Anyone who thinks that shoveling even more money into a corrupt and broken medical system is going to help us live longer and happier lives is either blinded by conflicts of interest or just blind. Good diet, sufficient exercise and avoiding harmful substances and genetics determine health and longevity.

    dT

  80. A hundred years old and up? That period covers WWII, and the earlier aggression against China. When there likely was an embarrassing large number of casualties, military and civilian, that Imperial Japan refused to acknowledge. So there were people who never officially died, whose “listed residence” presumably followed their families, that the government either will not or cannot declare dead. I don’t know if Japan has the “missing, declared dead” option as we have in the US.

    That may account for at least part of the mystery, and also indicate there are “living dead” younger than the 100-year mark also on the rolls.

  81. Excerpt from: GeoFlynx on September 13, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    In terms of “critical thinking” you might consider the source of your information. Myself, I will take conventional medical science over the opinions of industry advocates and tobaco lobbyists.

    Conventional medicine has told you for decades to go low fat, eat less red meat, it was good for your cardiovascular health and lowered your cholesterol. Vegetarian diets were promoted based on that, PETA and other “animal rights” groups flourished on the news that meat was bad for you so you should stop eating it anyway.

    Now long-term medical studies are showing that low-carbohydrate high-protein/fat diets are better for cardiovascular health, as earlier studies had also shown. Lose the bread, throw away the potato, eat the steak. Just as Dr. Atkins observed with his own patients for decades, and was derided as a quack for challenging the medical consensus.

    Feel free to firmly stick unquestioningly with the consensus view of conventional medical science, same as you do with the consensus view of conventional climate science. And send a donation to PETA to help defray their advertising costs as they inform the public they were mistaken about meat being bad for you. Which you know they are currently doing as they are far more truthful than “industry advocates and tobaco lobbyists.” You can read how truthful and honest PETA is right here.
    ;-)

  82. GeoFlynx says:
    September 13, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    James Sexton says:
    September 13, 2010 at 11:37 am
    GeoFlynx says:
    September 13, 2010 at 10:26 am

    JS-“some conventional beliefs are in conflict and if we really want to honestly understand which are correct assumptions and which are not, you’d have to be willing to confront some of the assertions “scientists” make. It is something I like to call “critical thinking”

    GeoFlynx -“Myself, I will take conventional medical science over the opinions of industry advocates and tobaco lobbyists. Heartland Institute anyone?”
    ========================================================

    Sure, now which ones? Cigarettes, kill? Or Japanese live longer because of their lifestyles? Or maybe genetics have a role? Maybe its the air? Or is it Cocoa puffs combined with cigarettes? Do they or anyone else really live longer? Or are they victims of inaccurate accounting, also? Or are you one that will simply believe what your are told? Or do you really believe the 150 y/o people are just lost and will find their way back home?

    I don’t really care that much about longevity and put more emphasis on quality of life. But the reality is laws get passed on a seemingly daily basis in an effort to either control my way of life or out of concern that I may not live past my 80th birthday if I don’t change my ways.

    Maybe it’s the sushi, but my goodness, if it is, I’d rather trim a few years off of my life.

  83. Is this article just a really, really long-winded way of saying – I don’t want to pay to provide poor people with decent health care?

  84. In terms of “critical thinking” you might consider the source of your information. Myself, I will take conventional medical science over the opinions of industry advocates and tobaco lobbyists.

    I guess we have several fallacies here. The first is that anyone who disagrees with consensus is either an advocate or a lobbyist. I would remind the posts that scientific truth is transient. That is they may be true for now, until a better explanation arrives. A good example would be poor diet causing stomach ulcers. How many thousands of peer-reviewed papers where bashed out about that?

    The second, implied by the original post, is that the main argument for nationalised healthcare in the US is life-expectancy. The argument in my view is economic. That is, the US spends 17% of GDP on healthcare but has worse outcomes than many European countries that spend half as much (per-capita). But to be honest I don’t value life expectancy all that highly. If you could measure quality of life, rather than length, I think perhaps the entire perspective would change. Still, I don’t expect the US to be world leaders here either (more than likely the French and Swedes would come out top).

    The original story is funny though, in a strange kind of way :p.

  85. For those attacking my post as a “partisan political ad”, for the record, I am NOT a Republican. I am just as happy to attack their lies, distortions, and abuses of science (creationism/intelligent design, as one example) and technology (the number of Republicans attacking Obama’s NASA plan and demanding the NASA pork keep coming to their districts, regardless of actually getting anywhere in space, is abhorrent IMHO). But those issues are not germain to the context of this story. This story has to do with longevity, geriatrics, faulty/fraudulent statistics, and how these statistics impact public policy regarding sciences of longevity and geriatrics.
    For those on the left who took objection either to my painting them as centrally to blame for policies that rely on these faulty statistics, I think my assertion is borne out by the record, and in as much as you make dislike it, or my stating these facts, I would ask you to objectively look at the issues of how these faulty statistics are used, not just in average life expectancy, but whether these statistics are used in any of the so-called scientific studies that promote “healthy living” that you’ve come to believe in. Don’t take them at face value, examine the facts, investigate.
    I am perfectly happy with admitting, if it is shown that there is no “teleconnection”, that this is so, but I refuse to do so without a valid examination of the record. You may find that you have been misled to believe the things you believe.

  86. LazyTeenager said on September 13, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Is this article just a really, really long-winded way of saying – I don’t want to pay to provide poor people with decent health care?

    It is a common misconception among your generation, indeed it is a stereotype, that the dead must invariably be poor. As mentioned in the article, many are still receiving pension and other retirement benefits. There are those who are still working, as found in the entertainment business. Just look at how much Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson rake in every year.

    Also, the article talks about Japan, which has socialized medicine. Thus “the poor” is largely a moot issue, unless you wish to argue public health care is worse than private health care.

    If you wish to discuss whether the dead should be receiving health care at all, perhaps you should seek out the opinion of a doctor providing colonoscopy exams. The microscopically low rates of colorectal cancer leave many to believe such exams are not needed at all. Feel free to protest they should be done anyway to make sure all cases are caught as ethical medicine should not be done based on cost/benefit analyses.

  87. LazyTeenager says:
    September 13, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    “Is this article just a really, really long-winded way of saying – I don’t want to pay to provide poor people with decent health care?”
    ========================================================
    You’re rationalizing paying dead people? As kadaka pointed out, this is a story about Japan, but how do you get from people receiving payments for dead people to not wanting to provide health care for poor people? I would argue that if society didn’t pay dead people, they might have more money to provide for the living poor. But either way, I don’t see your stretch. I’m really interested in how you came to that conclusion.

  88. I always find that statistics are hard to swallow and impossible to digest. The only one I can ever remember is that if all the people who go to sleep in church were laid end to end they would be a lot more comfortable. ~Mrs. Robert A. Taft

    Say you were standing with one foot in the oven and one foot in an ice bucket. According to the percentage people, you should be perfectly comfortable. ~Bobby Bragan, 1963

    Just had to lighten up the mood ;)

  89. If your dad died at 62 and you lied about it until he was 150 then from 62 to 98 he WAS part of the statistics of someone living to 98. When did that person die the government will never know and for 36 years he will be factored into the data pushing up the average life span. If you are willing to lie to the Government to get your check why would you tell the truth to the census taker. (I am temped to do that in the US and it has very little direct benefit to me). The question is not whether there are men below 98 and women below 103 in Japan who are really dead and counted as alive but are there enough of them to make a significant difference and this story does not address that issue.

  90. Doesn’t the current plan force poor people (and young people are are usually poorer) to buy health insurance from for-profit insurance providers? I pay far more in taxes than the average person makes. I don’t mind that. I’m happy to help the common good and to give poor people a helping hand. But forcing people to pay more to the medical industrial combine seems dumb. We already pay twice as much as Europe and we don’t get better results. The problem was never that we weren’t paying enough. For the past 30 years the problem has been that pay too much and we get too little.

    dT

  91. Benjamin Franklin —-“There is no kind of dishonesty into which otherwise good people more easily and frequently fall than that of defrauding the government.”——- Of course, they give as good as the get.

  92. Mods, my last post went to the nether world again. :-( I tried about 3 times to post it, but it just wasn’t going to. If you do retrieve, please only once. Thanx.

  93. Doubting Thomas says:
    September 13, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    “Doesn’t the current plan force poor people (and young people are are usually poorer) to buy health insurance from for-profit insurance providers?”
    ========================================================
    Yes. While I see the “problems” differently than you, I can tell you as a formerly young and poor person, there is no way I could have made it if I were forced into buy insurance I knew wouldn’t be used. Healthy young adults simply don’t use the health care system.(Which is why we forced them to contribute.) In this particular case, the poor, or their employers will be punished forced to subsidize an industry that they themselves will find of little necessity. This is reminiscent of when my fairly wealthy uncle used to state that the cap on social security of $50/year. He paid that towards the end of his working career. He used to boast that it was the best investment he ever made. As he laughed about me working to pay his bills. lol, the old boy has a sense of humor after a few belts.

  94. Anthony: Here’s example of how endemic scientific fraud is. Maybe those guys at CRU really weren’t violating accepted norms of scientific practice.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/corporate-news/118359-study-scientific-journal-contributors-hiding-corporate-ties

    The article mentions Dr. Scott Reuben … it fails to mention that his cooked up “research” probably resulted in tens of thousands of premature deaths. Some have referred to Reuben as a medical Madoff but the comparison is unfair; there is no evidence that Madoff killed thousands.

    Madoff will spend the rest of his life in jail, Reuben got six months.

    Americans are being killed for profit.

    dT

  95. John A says:
    September 13, 2010 at 8:17 am
    Actually the real quote is

    No single subject is more obscured by vanity, deceit, falsehood, and deliberate fraud than the extremes of human longevity.”

    I am willing to bet CAGW comes close.

    I am reminded that in my town the “Equal Rights for the Undead” party stood in the recent general election (I kid you not).

  96. John A says:
    September 13, 2010 at 8:17 am
    Actually the real quote is

    No single subject is more obscured by vanity, deceit, falsehood, and deliberate fraud than the extremes of human longevity.”

    I am willing to bet CAGW comes close.

    I am reminded that the “Equal Rights for the Undead” party stood in my town for the recent general election (I kid you not)

  97. Can you fool a census taker? Ever see the movie Waking Ned Divine? Its about someone who wins the lottery and then dies. The whole town is involved in fooling the inspectors into believing that Ned is still alive so that the town can share the winnings.

  98. “Is it really possible that every household in Japan was visited in order to collate census data, and that all citizens were required to be present when the census taker called? Were the sick dragged out of hospital to attend, holidays cancelled, business trips curtailed ………..”

    As a 30-year resident of Japan who has lived in the countryside and the city, I can personally report that a census taker (usually a local resident volunteer) normally comes to the front door and personally hands over a census form to the householder, who is asked to fill it in over the course of the next few days, after which the census taker returns and collects it. The census taker may give advice in order to help the householder to provide accurate information, but is under no obligation to confirm the accuracy of the information provided by the householder. It is a matter of trust.

    The national census only takes place once a decade, but there are other ways of potentially checking on the numbers of people living in various households. For instance, local authorities keep records for tax and other administrative purposes. Also the police (who are invariably friendly and never taser householders or shoot their pet dogs) keep records who lives where and periodically (about once every 2 to 5 years) call to ask specifically whether their lists are up to date. (This practice used to be almost universal but it seems to be less common these days in the big cities where there are more single-person households, homes where nobody is home, and people tend to move from place to place more frequently.)

    In theory, it should be possible to cross-reference different sets of records to spot discrepancies, but this takes us into the quagmire of working out how far “personal” information should be shared.

    I don’t know for sure how many of those “230,000 people in Japan over age 100 who simply cannot be located by any means” are counted in the annual national population figures. Common sense tells me that the bulk of them have been registered as dead somewhere but that local authorities have neglected to cross them off certain lists of living people. Undoubtedly there are going to a certain number of cases where people have failed to report the deaths of elderly relatives in order to keep the national pension payments coming in. Personally I would be surprised if there turned out to be more than a few hundred such cases nationwide, but we’ll see.

    It is interesting that within Japan, semitropical Okinawa is the prefecture with the longest average lifespan, while the prefectures where people have a shorter life expectancy are those with huge conurbations and those that have have cold winters plus heavy snow. On the face of it, these stats are a global warming alarmist’s nightmare.

  99. “The government said the findings would have a minimal impact on longevity figures, which are based on census data collated during home visits.”

    Home visits from census workers? So I “borrow” someone’s elderly aunt from down the street, who is mostly blind and deaf, probably about 83 years old, and show her off as my great-grandmother who is 123 years old. Paperwork? I have my great-grandmother’s birth certificate, and in America, a social security number. A woman who is 123 years old will not have a driver’s license. After the census worker leaves, I return the good old lady to her proper family, along with some small token of appreciation consisting of numerous dead presidents.

    Haven’t any of you gone through an audit at work? Show people what they expect to see, and that is what they will see. Anyone who is conducting an audit or census is under time constraints, and wants to spend as little time as possible at any particular household. Unless they are fingerprinting the elderly, how do they know which elderly person they actually have in front of them?

  100. but then like Francisco Franco

    Strange no one makes that joke about Tito. Even more authoritarian than Franco. Same lingering death scene. Died right around the same time. But no one ever made that joke about Tito. I wonder why that is. (NOT!)

    I don’t know why people obsess about such trivia.

    Well, mainly because it gives rise to such idiotic, peabrained notions as, say, that Cuba has better healthcare than the US. (To pick a wild example.)

    And such flatheaded delusions lead us into mindbendingly stupid, destructive policies as a result.

  101. This is terribly off-topic, but doesn’t it seem interesting that Fidel Castro is espousing democracy at this particular time? Perhaps general elections will be held, and he will, all so conveniently, be found to have died in his sleep soon after the election results are in.

    I mention this to balance out the dead voters in Illinois. Perhaps there are some dead leaders, too.

  102. And I think I can safely predict that there will be no jokes whatever on SNL to the effect of, “Fidel Castro is still dead.”

  103. > MikeN says:
    > JDN, If they’re using the median, then you have to remove that 3% and go that far > down the median line.

    I agree that there could be cheating. I don’t know what measure they are using. Someone is claiming they aren’t using the 100+ persons in the calculation, which seems odd. But since I’m no expert on Japanese demographics, I was hoping someone would link to reliable data before everyone jumps on this issue.

    The Japanese are usually held up as having less cancer, dementia, diabetes, etc. … i.e., the expensive diseases of aging. As such, life expectancy is not as important since everyone in the first world lives about as long as everyone else. For example, the U.S. has ~8% rate of diabetes: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-statistics/ compared to ~5% for Japan, with a slightly older population. Japan has far lower obesity: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_obe-health-obesity. Japan is usually held up as an example of low salt diets resulting in less high blood pressure. Also, less breast cancer in Japan (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_bre_can_inc-health-breast-cancer-incidence) and cancer in general. I can’t find links to all these statistics. I’m actually shocked that I can’t find them, and, the WHO report is useless for diseases of rich countries, like old age, cancer, over-eating, etc. :) So, my point is that we shoudn’t make snide comments about Japan’s life expectancy without some context.

  104. mikelorrey says:
    September 13, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    For those attacking my post as a “partisan political ad”, for the record, I am NOT a Republican. …
    For those on the left who took objection either to my painting them as centrally to blame for policies that rely on these faulty statistics, I think my assertion is borne out by the record [snip]

    Mike: The left is not monolithic. Some of us are for gun rights (See http://democratsforgunownership.org/), ending military adventures, strong domestic energy production (not solar or wind), strong accounting in government spending, etc. I feel the Republicans pay lip service to these things. How would you like it if I blamed you for all the things Rush Limbaugh says? I’m certain he will back you in your attack on national health care.

  105. evanmjones says:
    September 13, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Spot on Evan!
    ========================================================

    JDN says:
    September 13, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    So, my point is that we shoudn’t make snide comments about Japan’s life expectancy without some context.

    JDN, it isn’t snide to point out what we’ve been told over and over again to a point of monotony, may be in error, and that it isn’t easily detected about what is fact and what is hyperbole. The fact is, I’ll keep my foods and lifestyle over a preference of imagined couple of years more longevity. But, upon further review, it may be that my lifestyle and foods are not costing me longevity at all, but rather I may just be a different statistical view. I’ve got half of it though, my alcohol and nicotine intake can match most!

  106. Stastics are about what they want to find. When my mother died, while filling out the death certificate, I was asked if she EVER smoked. Well, yes she did, for about 15 years of her 82 years. At her doctor’s recommendation to calm her nerves. She died from dementia. Her brief smoking did not lead to her death, but you can be sure that her death was reported as a “smoking related illness”. She also ate carrots, drove without a seat belt and occasionaly voted Democrat but no one asked me those questions.

  107. Perhaps the Japanese Census actually sights and checks for vital signs each person it counts but I can assure you that the U.S. Census didn’t. Two thirds of the census count was based on mail in forms and the remaining one third was based on interviews by phone or in person with one member of each household, or with a neighbor when a household member couldn’t be reached within 6 tries (3 phone and 3 door knocks).

    Someone capable of forging great granddad’s signature on a pension check (certainly a crime) is surely capable of lying to the census taker about the old dude being asleep in an upstairs bedroom.

  108. Rick says:
    September 13, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Well great. What the hell am I supposed to do with all this bloody green tea and fish?
    =========================================================
    See that’s where you went wrong. I went with the cigarettes and sake, so I’m good!

  109. The longevity scandal in Japan is funny. But, the news below (sorry, it’s written in Japanese) may be more relevant to the main interest of the readers of this site than the longevity of Japanese people.

    http://www.kyoto-np.co.jp/local/article/20100907000025

    It shows that the temperature 39.9 degC which was reported recently in Kyo-tanabe city seems to be a result of a thermometer covered with a kind of ivy. The picture tells by itself although it is not easy to identify where the thermometer is: somewhere under the plant, near the hand of the man standing by a utility pole. I doubt that a utility pole is a suitable place to set a thermometer because the utility pole would work as a heat source.
    This thermometer in Kyo-tanabe city is a part of AMeDAS (Automated Meteorological Data Acquisition System) which belongs to Japanese Meteorological Office.

  110. If this is due to fraud it is the tip of the iceberg. They should be going through all the people with pensions. checking they are alive.

    In Greece, where we are having economic problems due to the hugely expanded civil service section, they are going through the pensioners with a fine comb.
    They find fraud in a large percentage of the cases ,200.000 in a total of 2.600.000 pensioners, and we are a country of 10.000.000. ( in greek). . In a statistical check of 500 of over 100 year old pensioners, 321 were dead.

    A large number may be for people who have died and their relatives keep on receiving the pension. Since death and birth records are still partly on paper, until everything is computerized it will be hard to tell, except by demanding that all power of representation is removed and the pensioner has to appear before getting the pension.

    I do not think longevity records are compromised, because they are taken from different bases, not pensioners. These “alive” dead have been buried which means that a death certificate exists. The relatives did not hand in the proper pension papers but kept drawing the money from the bank account. They have even found bank accounts full where nobody is drawing the money. It is a matter of bad bookkeeping.

  111. My post disappeared. Is f r a u d also on the spam catcher?

    [REPLY – Yes. But if it’s in spam it’s not lost and will be reviewed. Sometimes when we consider a post to be borderline, we’ll toss it into spam for the other mods to check out. (And sure enough, another mod has retrieved it!) ~ Evan]

  112. One of the other problems with working out a Japanese age from the date of birth, is that instead of using the Julian calendar, they use Emperor era dates. In this system, the year of a childs birth is counted from the year of that emperors birth. These era’s in reverse order are:
    Heisei – 1989
    Showa – 1926
    Taishou – 1912
    Weiji – 1868
    What all this means, is that a child born, say on 25th May 1914 will have the date of birth of T03525 as the format is Era, year of era, month, day. Moreover, the era can be replaced by a sequence number, that counts Weiji as 1 and Heisei as 4, so the same date could be written as 203525. This could account for a lot of the mixups.

  113. Many years ago, I remember reading about a similar thing in the Caucasus region of old Soviet Union. In order to avoid conscription, young men would ‘steal’ the identities of their deceased grandfathers, whose deaths had not been reported to the authorities. In a way, it was a win-win situation. By looking the other way, the government could promote a mythology about extreme longevity in that part of their country, and take credit for it. They even claimed that one of their citizens had reached the ripe old age of 158.

    Of course, the documented longevity prize goes to Jeanne Calment, of France, who died at the age of 122. BTW, Calment ate a kilogram of chocolate per week for most of her adult life.

  114. Ken Harvey, Robinson, Doubting Thomas and I would have a lot in common I feel.

    The problem with statistics is the uncritical acceptance of them.
    Take radiation, no safe level. Proved by statistics. But then a block of flats in Taiwan was found to be constructed of irradiated steel. The residents of many years were examined and found to have a cancer rate much below the norm. So, backed up by other statistics of many life forms exposed to varying rates it was established there is a low radiation level that is beneficial to life.

    Take Melanoma. Proved by statistics that it is caused by sun exposure. Slip, slap, slop with the suntan lotion. Except that the cancer rate in general goes up. Lack of Vit D causes more cancer deaths than before. Proved statistically.

    Many other examples, animal fats vs vegetable fats, animal fats win because most of the vegetable fats are compromised by manufacturing processes. PSA tests indicate prostate cancer, test as many as possible. Large studies involving 77,000 show there is no difference in outcomes between untested and untreated control and tested, and treated subjects over ten years.

    I find it rather curious that the three longest lived persons in the last ten years, 114, 115, and Ms Calmett 122 were all smokers,at least until 120yrs, and then Ms Calmett gave it up on Drs orders!

  115. John DeFayette says:
    September 13, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    “OK, how ’bout a show of hands: who else was shocked reading such a vacuous article on these grounds?….

    Now, can we please get back to saving the free world from raving environmentalists?”

    Shocking? Why? It is perhaps a vacuous article, although it is more accurately a vague article, mainly because of the absence of relevant numbers that would otherwise permit to make accurate and objective criticisms. Still, it is merely a summary of an article in the Guardian, which article is no less vague.

    Nevertheless, I found it to be interesting that some commenters here find fault with a perceived misrepresentation in the Guardian’s article on the strength of a government’s agency’s assertion offered in that article, which states in effect that the discrepancies found are immaterial because the data going into the census statistics are made to be deliberately selective.

    The brings into the open two absurd situations: firstly that a government agency (the family registry office) refuses to accept that errors found by another government agency (the justice ministry) are errors that matter, secondly that two camps are evolving — based on insufficient evidence — in this discussion thread that argue for and against one or the other of the two government agencies.

    However, a third group — with cooler heads — simply points out that insufficient evidence has been presented, which lack of information makes it impossible to determine the true dimensions of the apparent statistical disaster, much as is the case with homogenization of weather data for purposes of predicting climate trends that invariably turn out to err on the alarmist side.

    The evolution of all of those aspects is most fascinating to see, but I am puzzled by the request that we now should get back to “saving the free world from raving environmentalists”, as that request is not calling for objective science but for agenda-driven activism. Not only that, but that is a request for reducing the focus of WUWT to be far more narrow than specified by the blog’s owner.

    John, you are not chained down to this discussion thread on the accuracy of longevity statistics. Rather than to attempt to censor here, why don’t you simply read another thread with a topic that is more to your liking? There are many more topics to pick from at WUWT.

    However, John, “a show of hands” to decided what should or should not be discussed on a science blog that made it its mission to promote objective science and to combat “science by consensus”? That surely is carrying things a bit too far.

  116. A Census Taker comes to the door of a dwelling somewhere in Japan, the door is answered by Hiro-san, a dutiful great grandson:
    Census Taker: [pointing to a wrinkled and still body sitting in front of the HD TV] “THAT woman is DEAD”.
    Hiro-san: “Oh no, most esteemed sir, my great grandmother is merely resting.”
    Census Taker: “She isn’t moving.”
    Hiroo-san: “Oh no, she is just very, very slow. It’s the thyroid, you see.”
    Census Taker: “I don’t see her breathing.”
    Hiro-san: “She uses her diaphragm. It is a shinto exercise. It helps her train to hold her breath under water.”
    Census Taker: “Well, all right, she doesn’t need to get up on my account, just have her fill in the form and I’ll be back Monday to pick it up.”
    Hiro-san: “Certainly, thank you.”

  117. frederik wisse says:
    September 13, 2010 at 12:57 pm
    Winston Churchchill once quite correctly remarked . There are lies , outright lies and then there is statistics

    I beleive that was Mark Twain, and the actual quote is: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

  118. evanmjones says:
    September 13, 2010 at 8:12 pm
    And I think I can safely predict that there will be no jokes whatever on SNL to the effect of, “Fidel Castro is still dead.”

    You are probably right. However humor is best when it is shared. And we all know that the left is humorless.

  119. why must people lie to give money to there family, i mean don’t government workers get good benefits and good money. Can’t people just life like it is intended.

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