Categories
Cancer Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine

The New York Times and fear mongering about the Apple Watch and wearable tech: The NYT response

Yesterday, I laid a heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful Insolence on a hapless—not to mention clueless—tech writer who for some reason wrote an article for the New York Times Styles section. The writer, Nick Bilton, surely deserved it. His article served up a massive pile of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about radiation from cell phones as a cause of cancer. His twist was to take advantage of the current hype over the recently announced Apple Watch to turn that FUD onto the Apple Watch and other gadgets that fall under the title of “wearable tech” using misinterpretations of studies common to cranks like Devra Davis, who is perhaps the foremost purveyor of the unproven and implausible claim that cell phone radiation causes brain cancer (not to mention all sorts of other illnesses). However, that wasn’t the worst of it. The worst of it is that Bilton cited über-quack Joe Mercola as a legitimate expert about cell phones and cancer.

Not surprisingly, there was a lot of criticism of the article besides mine. Phil Plait trashed it. Daniel Engber likens debunking Bilton’s piece to shooting fish in a barrel, while James Cook notes that Bilton cherry picked the most alarmist studies. Nick Stockton of WIRED correctly referred to the article as an “attack on science.” Andrew Maynard of the University of Michigan Risk Science Center was “baffled” by the nonsense in the article. P.Z. Myers referred to the article as “flaming paranoia” while Alexandra Ossola urges everyone just to calm down. Russell Brandom sarcastically retorted that “this homeopath thinks you should use a hands-free headset.” (He also says, “Cram it, Bilton.”)

It was a blood bath on the science blogs, with Nick Bilton and the NYT being the main targets. Again, Bilton deserved every sling and arrow fired his way. Seldom have I seen such a biased article lacking even a nuance of understanding of the relevant science.

It was so bad that complaints to the NYT Public Editor Margaret Sullivan resulted in a response, A Tech Column on Wearable Gadgets Draws Fire as ‘Pseudoscience.’ At the beginning of the article, Sullivan notes the complaints that she had received about Bilton’s misinterpretation of existing scientific studies, his relying on studies from the only group to have found positive associations between cell phone use and brain cancer, and, above all, his citing one of the most influential quacks in the U.S. as the only source whom he quoted directly. Bilton’s response to Sullivan was disingenuous, to say the least:

Many strenuously objected to the reliance on Dr. Joseph Mercola, questioning his research and qualifications on this topic.

I corresponded with Mr. Bilton and the Styles editor, Stuart Emmrich. Mr. Bilton, defending the column and its sources, mentioned other Times articles over the years that have raised questions and concerns on the same subject. On the use of Dr. Mercola, he told me that his contribution was a relatively small part of the column. “He is one view among a dozen studies, articles and reports I cite in the column,” he said. (However, I’ll note that Dr. Mercola is the only person directly quoted in the column.) He said that describing Dr. Mercola as an alternative practitioner should have alerted readers.

To which I respond: Nonsense! And: How is it that a tech writer doesn’t even think to Google his sources? As I documented yesterday, on the first page of Google results about Joe Mercola there are several articles (at least one by yours truly) documenting Joe Mercola’s selling and promotion of quackery, including antivaccine views (he works with the grande dame of the antivaccine movement, Barbara Loe Fisher), the rankest cancer quackery that claims that cancer is a fungus and it can be cured with baking soda, and he has numerous articles on his website claiming a link between cell phone radiation and cancer. In fact, I can’t believe I forgot that last point in my previous post, because Mercola sells bogus ferrite beads that he claims to protect the user from cell phone radiation.

Funny that Bilton didn’t mention that.

It’s also funny that, as Sullivan noted, Mercola is the only person quoted in Bilton’s column. Just referring to him as an “alternative practitioner” is nowhere near adequate to warn readers about the true depths of Joe Mercola’s quackery. Let’s just put it this way. Mercola is not qualified to speak on anything from a science-based perspective. He has completely turned to the dark side. Anyone who quotes him as an authority on anything other than making money selling supplements and ferrite beads to “shield” your brain from cell phone radiation has revealed a black hole of ignorance about medicine. Think about it. Seemingly the best source Bilton could come up with was Joe Mercola. Although Although Bilton doesn’t seem to realize it, if the best interview you can come up with is Joe frikkin’ Mercola, maybe you should rethink the whole endeavor!

Indeed, to call Mercola “one view” among many is disingenuous in the extreme, as is this:

Mr. Bilton also wrote to me: “The reality is, we still don’t know definitively the causes of cellphones and cancer, but I can tell you one thing, as a technology enthusiast myself, I approached this piece thinking all the research was bogus. But, as I noted in my column, after doing my own reporting on this topic, I’m no longer going to talk on my cellphone for long periods of time without a headset. And I will likely also keep my soon-to-be-born son away from cellphone use until his brain develops, as erring on the side of caution, until more research is done, seems to me to be the smart and intelligent approach to this issue.”

Yes, it’s the old “I was a skeptic!” gambit. Mr. Bilton swears up and down that he thought all the research was “bogus.” Amazing, then, how little it took to persuade him that there is a potential horrible danger from cell phone radiation and radiation from wearable tech that hasn’t been adequately studied. I call BS. It sounds to me as though he always had a tendency to believe the cell phone-cancer link. I mean, come on! He framed his entire article by starting out describing how the tobacco industry used physicians back in the 1940s to sell cigarettes and how it worked to suppress any evidence that smoking tobacco caused harm in the form of lung cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and other health issues. What does he think the reader is supposed to have taken away from that introduction and his multiple references to tobacco companies. He even invoked vague, dubious claims about how we “have long suspected that cellphones, which give off low levels of radiation, could lead to brain tumors, cancer, disturbed blood rhythms and other health problems if held too close to the body for extended periods.” “Disturbed blood rhythms”? What the hell does that even mean?

Now here’s the hilarious part. The Styles editor, Stuart Emmrich, while defending the column, recognizes only one mistake made in this whole sorry affair:

“In this case, because Nick is our technology columnist, with a deep knowledge of the industry,” Mr. Emmrich said he felt the topic was appropriate for him to explore.

Mr. Emmrich told me that, in retrospect, he would have done something differently: “run it by our colleagues in Science, who have been helpful in the past, just to confirm our reporting was on solid ground and perhaps to more directly address, preemptively, the criticism I expected might come.”

Run it by some colleagues in the NYT Science section? What a wonderful idea! Why didn’t Emmrich do that? Instead, he trusted a tech writer with no discernable expertise in science, biology, or medicine and just published his uninformed ramblings stealing a page from cranks insinuating a “cover-up” of a cell phone-cancer link is akin to the well-documented campaign by tobacco companies over several decades to cover up the science showing that smoking causes cancer. The original title of the article was even Could Wearable Computers Be as Harmful as Cigarettes? As Sullivan noted, it is possible for someone without a serious science background to write effectively about scientific issues. This, however, was not one of these times.

I can only hope that Mr. Emmrich has learned a lesson. It’s clear from his responses that Nick Bilton has learned nothing. No wonder Gawker has referred to him as the new worst columnist at the NYT.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

63 replies on “The New York Times and fear mongering about the Apple Watch and wearable tech: The NYT response”

I’ve been feverishly working all night on a Faraday cage suit made of aluminum foil. Double breasted, because I don’t care what anyone else says, it never goes out of fashion. Maybe I can showcase my work in the style section. Enough chit-chat for now, that tail coat isn’t going to fold itself.

The reality is, we still don’t know definitively the causes of cellphones and cancer

Nothing says “cautious openness to evidence” like starting with the announcement that “Cellphones DO cause cancer but we just don’t know how”.

Well done. If the NYT had any integrity, they would have withdrawn the article. They don’t seem to do that much, though; their corrections are mostly along the lines of

In yesterday’s report on the garbage strike, Elmo Z. Veeblefetzer’s middle initial was incorrectly given as “Y.”. The Times regrets the error.

And on the subject of bad columnists at the NYT, readers are urged to search for “Ross Douthat chunky Reese Witherspoon” — how anyone could write that without being mortified by embarrassment — or “Charlie Pierce David Brooks Moral Hazard”.

“Many strenuously objected to the reliance on Dr. Joseph Mercola, questioning his research”

What research might that be???

‘The reality is, we still don’t know definitively the causes of cellphones and cancer’

Well, I can’t speak for the causes of cancer.

I’d guess the electronics industry is the cause of cellphones, though!

I’m going out on a limb here and say, the cause for cellphones is the fact that we build these things.

@ Pris & Cthulhu

Obviously the reason for cellphones is the Big Telecommunications secret plot to give everyone cancer. C’mon guys, that one was obvious.

@ Michael

I’ve been feverishly working all night on a Faraday cage suit made of aluminum foil.

Don’t forget to ground it, or it will just act as a giant antenna 🙂

And if you leave the face open, it will act like a satellite dish and actually concentrate radiowaves on your head (almost serious here, MIT students actually tested this)

It is amazing to me that any actual Pro-Fessional writer could let that sentence about “the causes of cellphones and cancer” escape the confines of their computer screen.

Basically, everyone involved on the Times end appears to be stupid, ill-informed, lazy, incompetent, or some combination of these attributes.

Many will find this to be an especially choice bit of crankery concerning the subject at hand. It’s even relevant to Orac’s day job!

I’m wondering if part of the problem is our news media’s apparent belief that “balance” and “fairness” is more important than truth and accuracy.

@Opus. Holy hell:

I know TechCrunch was also aggressively pursuing Bilton, as was the Huffington Post (perhaps competing with each other, who knows). Other publications were also actively pursuing him as well.

Not bad for a guy who never got a journalism degree, or any other degree. Bilton’s background is in design. And he’s one of the best writers the NY Times has. They’re lucky to have kept him.

I’m not so sure about this. However, if you’re going to write about science and don’t have a relevant degree, you’d damned well better make sure to take a lot of time learning about it from reputable sources.

The reality is, we still don’t know definitively the causes of cellphones and cancer

I, too, noticed that rather bizarre phrasing. It’s as if he wants to imply that cell phones do cause cancer, but wants to be able to weasel out of it if he’s called on it.

I’m wondering if part of the problem is our news media’s apparent belief that “balance” and “fairness” is more important than truth and accuracy.

This. There is a longstanding joke that if certain people of a certain political persuasion were to claim that the Earth is flat, the headline on the story would be something like, “Opinions Differ Regarding Shape of Earth”. It would be one thing to publish an article that describes both $MAINSTREAM_VIEW and $ALTERNATIVE_VIEW, and then describe the facts of the case, which allow the reader to conclude that $MAINSTREAM_VIEW (or in some cases $ALTERNATIVE_VIEW, but that rarely happens on the subjects Orac covers) is correct. But few media outlets these days describe the facts of the case, and too often, as in this case, the reporter gives undue weight to one side of the argument.

First post and slightly off-topic, but I just wanted to say thank you for all the hard work that must go into your blog posts. As a biotech student with an interest in education, recognizing and refuting pseudoscience will only get more important for me in the future. Indeed, recently a friend of mine was starting to look into the alt-med route (chronic illness, getting disillusioned with doctors who couldn’t help) and what made me recognize it for what it was were the ‘dog whistles’ that you’ve mentioned here. Your stories have given me the perspective I needed to explain to him how quacks work and how and why they’re wrong but so convincing, without scaring him off.

So thank you, Orac. You are making a difference, and I hope the knowledge that your efforts are appreciated will give you just a little more energy to keep going.

Faraday suits!

At last I have an argument for why I really need to get that suit of chainmail. 😀

Like this one, maybe:

@ Helianthus

The MIT study is brilliant, thanks for sharing that. I have a simple and stylish solution, bee keeper type hat with wire mesh and grounding spikes on my aluminum wingtips. It will be a little tough to walk on paved surfaces but that is a small price to pay for looking good.

Anyone seen Better Call Saul yet? Saul’s brother, played by Michael McKean, is “allergic to electromagnetic energy.” Really nicely shows the mental illness of an otherwise accomplished person. He wraps himself in a metallic blanket as protection from the radiation.

There may be an emotional backstory overriding this article and his panicking over his new child being exposed to cell phone radiation. Nick Bilton just lost his mother to liver cancer last week. The service was yesterday in England. This doesn’t excuse the shitty reportage and fact checking by any means, but it might be helpful to know that he’s going through hell of a much more personal kind right now.

At first I was deeply disappointed that you hadn’t mentioned Leah Finnagan’s delightfully insolent post about this debacle over at Gawker, but then you saved the day at the end and came through with her earlier prescient article declaring him the new holder of the “Worst Columnist at the Times” title.

Bilton is in demand because a large number of outlets have realized that click bait style “tech” articles are best if they include breathless reporting about the dangers of technology. They can be medical dangers or unfounded vague hand waving about how technology is ruining our brains/creativity/productivity/love lives/relationships/culture etc.

Lately I’ve been in great danger of causing myself injury from chronic eye rolling every time I see an article titled “In Defense of Boredom”, or “the Case for Boredom” since it inevitably turns out to be a noxious anti-smart phone whinge supported not by any kind of empirical evidence but with narcissistic anecdotes. I’m kind of surprised Bilton hasn’t jumped on that bandwagon yet.

Apologies . . the linked article is irrelevant. I latched on to the phrase “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology first hand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids” . . . in a completely different article (in the Telegraph, no less) and I just started clicking away. My big fat lazy bad!

“Bilton reveals that, since his surprising conversation with Jobs, he has had similar discussions with other high-profile figures in the tech industry.

Chris Anderson, a former editor of Wired, told Bilton that he set strict time limits and parental controls on every device at home. “My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists,” he said. “They say that none of their friends have the same rules. That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology first hand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”

Lately I’ve been in great danger of causing myself injury from chronic eye rolling every time I see an article titled “In Defense of Boredom”, or “the Case for Boredom” since it inevitably turns out to be a noxious anti-smart phone whinge supported not by any kind of empirical evidence but with narcissistic anecdotes.

I don’t really come across those types of articles much, but I think there can be a philosophical point to be made about maybe paying a little attention to one’s relationship to technology, even if it’s not based on studies. (Alarmist fear-mongering that says technology is ruining our brains or something is a different thing, though.)

I don’t get the value of yet another ever-present gadget, but I guess this is kind of Apple’s MO – make it, and they will want it. I honestly don’t give that much of a sh*t what other people do, though, as long as they aren’t rude about it. (I do find it irritating when, say, you’re hanging out with someone and they’re carrying on a text message conversation with somebody else at the same time.)

I dig technology in general. It’s just that I like to be the master of my tools and not the other way ’round. It’s the same reason I don’t get the Keurig cup thing at all – not only is it needlessly wasteful, it gives you less control over the coffee you make than does a french press or a pour-over cone or even a regular coffee pot.

Chris Anderson, a former editor of Wired, told Bilton that he set strict time limits and parental controls on every device at home.

This, by itself, is not a bad thing. But I’d be curious what “dangers of technology” he is referring to. If it’s the danger that his kids might become video game addicted couch potatoes, then OK, I can understand that one. But if he’s talking about cell phones and cancer, let alone anything that Alex Jones routinely rants about, then his kids may have a point.

“However, if you’re going to write about science and don’t have a relevant degree, you’d damned well better make sure to take a lot of time learning about it from reputable sources.”

You’d be out of a blog if they actually did this.

Well, not completely out of one, you’d still have the other cranks to write about… Cranks with degrees.

I shared the old joke the other about cancer in laboratory animals with my husband a physicist and he laughed hysterically. (if you don’t know it essentially is some variation of ‘You know what causes cancer in lab animals? Researchers’) Given a high enough dose just about anything is toxic (even water) but the cell phone cancer link has been pretty thoroughly disproven. Or at least low enough that it doesn’t deviate much from background levels. The writer talking about not letting his small child have a cell phone is just a red herring. I don’t let my child have my phone, not because I’m worried about cancer, but because I know for sure he’ll figure out how to call either 911 or someone in Antarctica. The kids are way smarter with the tech now than we were. Also knowing my luck he’d drop in the toilet as well and ruin my phone. He won’t be getting a phone until he is much older, not because of cancer, but because I’ve watched the trials and tribulations of some of my siblings and nieces and nephews with phones. Had one nephew who broke or lost 5 phones in a six month period. I wouldn’t have replaced the first one personally but not my child.

Eric @28: For an editor of Wired, the dangers of technology probably are things like turning into a couch potato, stepping into traffic because you were looking at your phone, and being hassled by nasty people on the internet. Maybe even poor posture and vision from holding the phone/tablet too close to your face.

Speaking of people thinking ridiculous things cause cancer, there is a famous epidemiological study looking at if electric blankets cause cancer (something about 60Hz, I think). The answer was “no” but it took a huge study to put the question to rest. (Now, of course, we live in insulated houses and don’t need electric blankets, so the issue is moot.)

For an editor of Wired, the dangers of technology probably are things like turning into a couch potato, stepping into traffic because you were looking at your phone, and being hassled by nasty people on the internet. Maybe even poor posture and vision from holding the phone/tablet too close to your face.

It is fine to make a career of promoting complete technological immersion for other people, but Anderson does not want that happening to his own kids

30: “Or at least low enough that it doesn’t deviate much from background levels.”

You need to think like a (physics) crank. Their approach often is that *stuff* is hiding inside those measurement error bars. You say “noise” and they shout “new physics!”. For them happiness is a wide error bar because they can claim lots of *stuff* is hiding in there.

“I corresponded with Mr. Bilton and the Styles editor, Stuart Emmrich. Mr. Bilton, defending the column on the International Space Station and its sources, mentioned other Times articles over the years that have raised questions and concerns on the same subject. On the use of the president of the Flat Earth Society, he told me that his contribution was a relatively small part of the column. “He is one view among a dozen studies, articles and reports I cite in the column,” he said. (However, I’ll note that the Flat Earthers are the only persons directly quoted in the column.) He said that describing the Flat Earth Society as alternative geophysical scientists should have alerted readers.”

I used to temp for a state department of natural resources, in the “power” division. Everyone took turns fielding the calls from people terrified of taking off their tin-foil hats, because it took a good 45 minutes to conclude the call, but the PTB had decided we weren’t allowed to just cut them off. Since 45 minutes is a long time to listen to someone talk without pausing, I got pretty good at minesweeper.

In amongst the general literature put out by that department was a pamphlet about electromagnetic radiation and why it might hurt you. My favourite recommendation was to turn off your microwave (as in, unplug it) after using it. I actually asked one of the long-suffering people in that department (who were unfailingly nice, I must add; it was my favourite place to temp) about EMR, and he said that if your equipment doesn’t prevent your compass from pointing north, there’s really nothing to worry about.

Of course, now I live in another state, and in the back 30 acres of our wooded property, all our compasses go haywire. I’m assuming aliens. Very quiet, unobtrusive aliens who like nature.

Speaking of people thinking ridiculous things cause cancer, there is a famous epidemiological study looking at if electric blankets cause cancer (something about 60Hz, I think). The answer was “no” but it took a huge study to put the question to rest.

Bilton’s source disagrees.

Don’t forget to ground it, or it will just act as a giant antenna

Umm, Helianthus #8? The operation of a Faraday cage relies on Maxwell’s equations whereby the net electric field inside a (perfect) conductor is zero. No grounding is necessary. It is not grounding or rubber tires which makes the automobile the safest place to be in a lightning storm. If you are inside the hollow terminus of a Van de Graaff electrode charged to millions of volts, your foil electroscope is still flaccid.

But tinfoil? It is crackly loud to the point of being unconcealable. It is socially unacceptable. In the presence of microwave energy, it can act as a ‘detector’ due to limited conductivity and semiconductor nature of aluminum oxide against skin — This may lead the wearer to ‘hear’ voices. Also, it does not breath well.

Now you’ve hit on an important point with ‘aperature’. There is always some frequency that can find the otherwise EM- rejecting configuration to instead be a focal enabler — When considering the screen grid to protect one from microwaves in the oven, also consider that those little holes act as a free-air ‘lense’ for visible light.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airy_disk

The better Faraday cage will not allow any potentially leaky ports; Power transduction and communication is accomplished through ultrasound.
http://www.gizmag.com/ultrasonic-data-and-power-transmission-through-metal/18097/

@ Helianthus # 8 and Notchka # 19: That MIT study is wonderful! And check out link therein to the site with the instructions re making tinfoil hats – which has a hilarious rebuttal of the MIT study – and goes into a lot of fol de rol regarding psychotronic waves (or psychotronic radiation). I did not know of this & ran a search on the term – Wow!

I very much enjoy Orac’s stuff & that guy Gorski at Science Based medicine has a fine style that seems…derivative. Here’s to all the minions…

Hey, why me? Is it my location – or that I have different (but related) nym in my rare comments at SBM?

The Times has posted an addendum to the article:

Addendum: March 20, 2015

Editors’ Note

The Disruptions column in the Styles section on Thursday, discussing possible health concerns related to wearable technology, gave an inadequate account of the status of research about cellphone radiation and cancer risk.

Neither epidemiological nor laboratory studies have found reliable evidence of such risks, and there is no widely accepted theory as to how they might arise. According to the World Health Organization, “To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.” The American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have all said there is no convincing evidence for a causal relationship. While researchers are continuing to study possible risks, the column should have included more of this background for balance.

In addition, one source quoted in the article, Dr. Joseph Mercola, has been widely criticized by experts for his claims about disease risks and treatments. More of that background should have been included, or he should not have been cited as a source.

An early version of the headline for the article online — “Could Wearable Computers Be as Harmful as Cigarettes?” — also went too far in suggesting any such comparison.

khan @20

“Disturbed blood rhythms”? What the hell does that even mean? – Disco?

More likely the music of James Blood Ulmer

Kiiri: I don’t let my child have my phone, not because I’m worried about cancer, but because I know for sure he’ll figure out how to call either 911 or someone in Antarctica.

I hope you also keep an eye on the phone when the pets are around. I think my cat dialed 911 on the landline phone once. I didn’t know a thing about it until a cop showed up. And then there was the time she got the screen on a computer to go sideways…

Hey, why me? Is it my location – or that I have different (but related) nym in my rare comments at SBM?

The G-word.

@ Narad. Right. I figured that after I posted my whine (above). I blame Face Book. Got a bit loose, I did.

(I list the location on account of the anti-vax scene in Oregon, discussed in related posts here or SBM)

Psychotronic wave stuff got my attention – it’s not cancer, so it’s not directly related to Bilton at al. idiocy that is the main topic. And it’s poignant on account of the microwave/radio wave mind control, sort of laughable but very sad, with seriously disturbed people and a well developed belief system complete with 1960’s/70’s/80’s Cold War paranoia military research. Tin foil hats, is that what they call a trope? But the organized details of these weird alarmist sites – now I see more of the basis of the manic psychotic content in several very long letters. It turns out that one consequence of psychotronic wave attack is: symptoms of schizophrenia.
Microwave towers & especially microwave electric meters are also a hot topic here in Eugene.

Psychotronic wave stuff got my attention – it’s not cancer, so it’s not directly related to Bilton at al. idiocy that is the main topic.

Predictably, it isn’t that far afield, either.

Indeed. Cell towers – population clusters – cancer clusters. Population = central cause of cancer. Figured that.

Anyway, it gets real lurid. i must alert the weekly “alternative” paper to this menace.

PGP: “Kiiri: I don’t let my child have my phone, not because I’m worried about cancer, but because I know for sure he’ll figure out how to call either 911 or someone in Antarctica.”

Ha! Many years ago my preschooler picked up a pay phone and called 911. Yikes!

Trust me, kids will find some way to cause problems.

The real meance of cellphones is clearly accidents caused distraction while driving (or even just walking around). By now this must have caused a great many injuries and deaths, though quantifying this is very difficult.

Oh, and the talk of inadvertent phone usage reminds me of a favorite Homer Simpson quote:

Homer (panicked) : What’s the number for 9-1-1?

Trust me, kids will find some way to cause problems.

You mean like pressing the emergency stop button on an escalator at Sears?

I’ll note that for far too many reporters, and certainly for Mr. Bilton, that this phrase:

“after doing my own reporting on this topic”

provides exactly the same validity as when we hear:

“after doing my own research

from many of our more entertaining commenters.

*eyeroll*

“Disturbed blood rhythms”? What the hell does that even mean?

Disturbed blood rhythms are behind all diseases! Everyone knows that!

the cardiac insufficiency is directly implicated and responsible for the entire physiopathogenesis of parenchymal organs diseases, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes mellitus, tuberculosis.
Any cardiovascular condition that may cause a chronic deficiency in the frequency and kinetics of systemic arterial pulsatile blood flow, leads to a chronic deficiency in the stimulation of parenchymal tissues, causing functional deficiencies in all the parenchymal organs e.g. pancreatic insufficiency, hematopoietic and lymphopoietic deficiency, hepatic and renal failure.
Diabetes mellitus and leukemia for instance are always accompanied by cardiomyopathy, in all its specific forms, including the congenital ones involved in childhood leukemia and diabetes.
Physiotherapy is the most appropriate option for treating leukemia and diabetes mellitus.

From above #57 I really think it’s funny-having smoked for about 10 years myself-To that authoritative statement it might be well to add the advice given me by a Washington physician after a long evening of discussing the pros and cons of smoking. Together with two cancer researchers and a statistician, we had all puffed away for hours while we analyzed the medical evidence for and against the cigarette. When we finally quit, at three in the morning, a deep blue haze filled the room.
“Summing it all up, Doctor,” I asked, “would you advise me—an average, sedentary, moderately healthy character—to keep on smoking or to quit?”
Cigarette in hand and glancing at the overloaded ash trays, he laughed.
Then he leaned over and whispered, “I’m going to tell you exactly what I tell most of my patients. Don’t smoke—unless you like it.”
Source: Albert Q. Maisel, “Don’t Smoke—Unless You Like It, Collier’s, November 4, 1950, 18.

“I’ll note that for far too many reporters, and certainly for Mr. Bilton, that this phrase:
“after doing my own reporting on this topic”
provides exactly the same validity as when we hear:
“after doing my own research”
from many of our more entertaining commenters.”

Also, included in that list is the phrase “I’ve been researching this for a long time…” with the next sentence so wrong you know they didn’t even crack open a high-school science textbook during their “research”.

@58

My father’s partner used to smoke while consulting his patient’s. He also kept his coat on though, barely looking up as he wrote another prescription ready for a quick get away. Maybe not ideal but a character indeed.

Everyone knows when a headline is a question the answer should be no. “Could Wearable Computers Be as Harmful as Cigarettes?” No

Everyone knows when a headline is a question the answer should be no.

Case in point, most of the papers by Tomljenovic and Shaw.

Mr. Bilton and his boss – pretty much the majority of Timesmen and Timeswomen not named Paul Krugman or working in the Science section – once again demonstrate the pernicious role of Liberal Arts Major Syndrome in fostering the Dunning-Krueger Effect that causes smart but scientifically untrained people to fall for arrant nonsense.

LAMS creates people who are fairly handy with words, yet are also so stricken with the D-K Effect that they have no idea how ignorant they are of science. That’s a dangerous combination for people who, as reporters, are supposed to accurately report on the world around us.

Comments are closed.