Understanding the Fine Print

An interesting NPR story came on the other day about two researchers at Dartmouth trying to get more easily-digestible drug facts on pharmaceutical company’s packaging. Aside from their main message about the public’s ability to understand quantitative, statistical information about drug effectiveness, one thing that stood out for me was how they communicated a simple lesson about the relevance of such phrases as ‘reduces your chance of X by Y%’ via a simple analogy.

One thing that I’m interested in — a side interest for the time being — is whether this sort of analogical explanation/illustration strategy retains its effectiveness as you ramp up to more complex phenomena. The analogies will presumably become more strained and themselves more complex. How, for example, would you explain (in the same sort of way) the Base-Rate Fallacy?