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Dose_extrapolation - Chapter 8 Dose extrapolation AT&T TO...

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Chapter 8: Dose extrapolation. AT&T TO CUT WORKFORCE 120 PERCENT NEW YORK, N.Y. (SatireWire.com) AT&T will reduce its workforce by an unprecedented 120 percent by the end of 2003, believed to be the first time a major corporation has laid off more employees than it actually has. AT&T stock soared more than 12 points on the news. The reduction decision, announced Wednesday, came after a year-long internal review of cost-cutting procedures, said AT&T Chairman C. Michael Armstrong. The initial report concluded the company would save $1.2 billion by eliminating 20 percent of its 108,000 employees. From there, said Armstrong, "it didn't take a genius to figure out that if we cut 40 percent of our workforce, we'd save $2.4 billion, and if we cut 100 percent of our workforce, we'd save $6 billion. But then we thought, why stop there? Let's cut another 20 percent and save $7 billion… Of course, it is immediately obvious that this “news” piece from SatireWire.com is not serious. One cannot cut more than 100% of a workforce. Furthermore, the supposed motivation for cutting the entire workforce is to save five times the money that would be saved by cutting only 1/5 of the workforce. This example introduces the concept of dose extrapolation. We deal with it every day, one way or another. The above article is humorous because we realize that some things cannot be extrapolated proportionately: adding 10 tablespoons of salt to your kettle of soup does not make it taste 10 times better than 1 tablespoon of salt. (One of our friends, the well- known population biologist Bruce Levin, once tried to speed the baking of a sponge cake by raising the oven temperature to its maximum; the cake did not turn out as expected.) Dose extrapolation enters most calculations of risk. Our government pays a lot of attention to environmental hazards that kill us or give us disease. The people who do these calculations worry a lot about small risks, because a small risk multiplied by 250 million (the approximate U.S. population) can add up to a lot of death or disease.
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