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Probability and Sickle Cell Disease, Reaction Paper Example

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The video “Binomial Distribution” goes to great lengths to relate, through a careful discussion of statistical probabilities, important progress in the treatment of sickle cell disease.  The greater part of the video, in fact, is devoted to explaining the nature of “odds” when only two outcomes are possible, and the explanation itself follows an instructional trajectory.  The narrator begins, for example, with a basic scenario of flipping a coin, and then moves to how the more seemingly complex case of free throws in basketball reflects the same, simple duality of possibility.  This is then taken to genes and how sickle cell recessive genes in both parents create a 25 percent chance that their child will actually develop the disease.  The video concludes with a report on how promoting fetal hemoglobin production in sickle cell patients is proving effective in countering the disease.

The video presents the facts regarding binomial distribution in a clear and even compelling way.  Perhaps most importantly, it shatters the myth of a successful outcome as more likely when multiple efforts are made in situations where only two outcomes are possible, whether they be expectations of a disease-free child or a completed basketball free throw; each time, the odds remain the same because the determining factors remain the same.  The link between this and sickle cell disease, or any genetic illness, is then evident, so the seemingly unusual combining of the two subjects works very well.  Also to the video’s credit, the simplicity of the presentation of the information is not at all patronizing; confidence and clarity are expressed throughout, so the viewer is all the more inclined to engage with the information.  It may be argued that the later emphasis on new approaches in sickle cell treatment deviates from the general discussion here, and that an introduction referring to this would provide the video with greater cohesion.  The point, however, is negligible, and particularly so since the treatments discussed actually go to “altering the odds,” which reflects the bulk of the information.  Essentially, then, the video succeeds by virtue of a completely professional and consistently informative presentation of a key statistical reality, and how it translates in terms of human health.

Works Cited

Against All Odds.  Binomial Distribution.  Annenberg Learner.  n/d.  Web.  28 April 2014. <http://www.learner.org/courses/againstallodds/unitpages/unit21.html>

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