Statistics from Altmetric.com
WHEN is it appropriate to ignore the statistics? In an article which is summarised on p 417 of this issue of Veterinary Record, Donnelly and others (2015) analyse the ability of the ongoing pilot badger culls to provide statistically significant evidence that badger culling can reduce the incidence of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in cattle. This analysis is both an admirably clear primer explaining the use of statistics to evaluate hypotheses and demonstrates the limitations when interpreting the outcomes of the pilot culls. The study shows that the pilots are unable to provide statistically significant evidence of the impact of badger culling on cattle TB incidence unless the number of cull areas are increased or effective culling on fewer sites is observed for at least three years.
The debate over the role of badgers in the maintenance of TB in cattle is longstanding and likely to be a familiar topic for Veterinary Record readers. It is well established that badgers contribute to TB in British and Irish cattle; however, the extent of this role and the best means to reduce the number of …