Friday, December 28, 2012

New England Journal of Medicine, the Future, and the Fog Index
The Fog Index measures the level of reading difficulty of any document.
The formula for the index is as follows:
( (average number of words per sentence) + (number of words of 3 syllables or more) ) X 0.4 = Fog index
The Fog Index level 'translates' the number of years education a reader needs to understand the material. The "ideal" score is 7 or 8; anything above 12 is too hard for most people to read.
Definition of Fog Index
December 29, 2012 – When I’m having trouble understanding a piece of writing, I apply the Fog Index.  This was the situation as I read “A Glimpse of the Next 100 years in Medicine” in the December 27 New England Journal of Medicine.
The following passage befogged me. 
“The size and complexity of this multidimensional characterization will lead to far more complex diagnostic and prognostic categories than are currently in use.  The multivariate categories of large populations will allow stratification of a kind seen only in the most recent genomically informed clinical trials.  Massive data crunching will yield analytic or algorithmic formulas that will be useful for clinical purposes even though they defy easy summary in a language most of us can understand.  Complex but empirically validated algorithms will be embedded in EHR systems as decision support tools to assist in everyday patient care. These management algorithms will evolve and be modified continuously in accordance with inputs from ongoing clinical observations and rom new research. Clinical support algorithms will be derived entirely from data, not expert opinion, market incentives, or committee consensus. The huge amount of data available will make it possible to draw inferences from observations that will not be encumbered by unknown cofounding.”
Why was I having troubling digesting these 157 words? Perhaps it was because of the high Fox Index. 
The average sentence length was 22. 2 words.  The number of three syllable words per 100 words was 30.1.
The Fog Index was 22.2 + 30.1 X 0.4= 20.9. 
This means it would take 20.9 years of education to grasp the essence of what was being said.  I suppose this is about right for New England Journal of Medicine readers. Four years of high school, four years of college, four years of medical school, and 5 years of post-graduate training adds up to 17 years of education. Still, I wonder if it could have been said more simply.

No comments: