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June 04, 2008

Comments

Ryan

I agree with your main point about the ridiculous fear mongering and sensationalism exhibited by the mainstream media. However I don't think this logic furthers your argument:

>"But researchers who have raised concerns say that just because science >can’t explain the mechanism doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist."
>
>Try swapping out "the mechanism" and replacing it with "Santa Claus" to >see the wondrous immaturity of this logic.

Science is good at falsifying claims - proving something is incorrect. Science can in fact 'explain' Santa Clause by showing that he does not exist (among other things we can show it is impossible for one man to travel to every household in the world in a 24 hour period). On the other hand, science cannot falsify a hypothesis that hasn't been made yet - thus we can't really say anything about a biological mechanism we may not know about.

Ivan Kirigin

The issue is about the need to appear balanced on an issue of right and wrong, correct and incorrect.

Media seems unable to take a stand. They rarely call out a lie as a lie.

Personally, I'd love to see an end to the ideal of objective journalism. It just doesn't exist. There are openly biased editors, and statistics given in context. Everything else is misdirection. The bias of an editor isn't actually bad if you are made aware of the bias.

Sacca

Ryan, I agree that science can't prove the nonexistence of something (in my example, the author uses "explain" arguably interchangeably with "prove"). However, my beef is twofold. First, the presumptuous nature of their use of the word "mechanism" as if its existence is established and just remaining to be rationalized. Second, and more to your point, that even if you accept the futility of proving non-existence, such yet-to-be-discovered biological process, which would contravene almost all research attempting to establish causation, is hardly a principle for which it would be worthwhile to meaningfully change your behavior.

Dan

Ultraviolet light is not (very) ionizing and clearly linked to skin cancer. Electromagnetic fields from power lines are non-ionizing, and are linked to leukemia (not conclusively, but there is enough evidence to warrant more studies). It is *not* the unwavering conclusion of the science community that microwave radiation from cell phones cannot possibly cause cancer or other adverse health effects.

We barely know what causes cancer in general, and specific cancers seem to be triggered by all kinds of things. The lack of a known biological mechanism is absolutely no reason to end the story.

The real question is what the studies show, and while they generally (but not universally) indicate little connection, I feel there is definitely still room for reasonable doubt. I think science reporting is very often bogus, and there's a lot not to like about this article, but I do think you're basically wrong here.

chester

Wait. I don't get it. What are you saying about Santa Claus? What are you saying!?!

Arnold Drummond

Headline: Whatchoo talkin'bout Willis?
"Man killed by watching too many re-run episodes of a Different Strokes television show while trying to set world record. Over the course of 4 weeks when he also did not sleep or eat, the victim watched the same episode several thousand times on his TiVO before expiring."

There are always 2 sides to every story, and depending on how strong your microscope is, or where you decide to look, they can both be wrong. When it comes to risks (which may or may not be risks) such as cell phones, I am pro-choice. Here are a few examples of cell phone and land line related risks:

1) If we choose the convenience of a cell phone over using landline and payphones, we may end up with cancer and die from something that is now nothing but could be something in the future = Maybe I should just get a pager instead, or will that produce cancer of the gluteous maximus at some point in the future?

2) If we choose the inconvenience of a cell phone we may possibly contract a deadly disease from a payphone user and die from that something in the future = I don't have to pick someone else's gum off of my cell phone.

3) If we choose the convenience of a cell phone over landlines, we could end up dying from a phone that ignites petrol fumes while we are tying our shoe during a cell phone conversation filling up the car = Do I really need to return these calls today or can it wait?

4) If we choose to stick with land lines we may be late to more meetings therefore causing us to rush and make hasty decisions more often and therefore we may die in an accident caused by something in the future = It sure would be nice to be on time and not in a rush.

The results of my exhaustive study are the following: Do more, be on time, and maybe contract cancer -OR- Get hit by a bus tommorow. Ok, so I'm for cellphones, but my decision is based on my own assessment and not an article, tv show or your blog.

This debate follows an FCC study and their delivery of a clear statement of what is and what is not permissable/dangerous pertaining to RF emissions. The FCC is our government. Do you trust our government? Exactly, trust the FCC and (maybe) die or don't trust them and (maybe) die anyway. Debate here is fruitless.

Cell phones just happen to be on the revolving health risk media circuit. It is awfully hard to fill the papers/airwaves with interesting news day after day. Big media rationale is that if you are concerned about the hype and it is successful in producing your response, then you likely have a cellphone and are a consumer within a certain age bracket and have some discretionary income and interests which are appealing to the media advertisers.

The debate over 500 milliwatts from cell phones that may cause brain cancer is far more appealing from a media sales standpoint as compared to let's say breast cancer and the 1200 watt microwave ovens (@ a 2.5 gigahertz frequency - specifically engineered 30 years ago to resonate water molecules = Cook)in every single household in America.

That would be much easier to hype, but lacks some key male audience appeal as a front page story/blurb and is much profitable as it primarily hits the female population who may or may not have cell phones and be consumer targets. Therefore, it may only find use in women's magazines and talk shows.

Gore reference? Conspiracy, consmiracy. Anyone who has inhaled what comes out of a muffler and has an ounce of common sense could put the pieces together and did. In that specific campaign, the sensational media and overplaying the urgency is likely what has started the ball rolling in the right direction for our environment. If not extreme and sensational media, what else would so effectively move our culture to action in an attempt to avoid peril, and so effectively with that sustaining guilt and urgency to boot.

As you see, we can use the same despicable media tools and methods for both good and evil. Facts are just too boring, people don't like to talk about them, and they don't drive the bottom line when you are in the advertising business.

Would your blog efforts be better spent to actually change policies, create economic incentives and further the next big stimulus plan we are staring at called the green energy eco-bubble?

Instead of you getting worked up over integrity that you thought ad reliant big media actually had all of this time, you should not have been phased and you should trust only personal experience, gut instinct, and firsthand reference from reliable sources.

I think Darwin was on to something. This is all part of a beautiful test that will advance civilization because everyone whose intelligence quotient had them reading or watching this debate to the end of the article/show hopefully will make a personal decision about the risks associated with something that clearly, beyond a shadow of a doubt, has a remote chance of potentially happening at some point in the future.

So, those influenced by the media to the point of actually dumping their cell phones will all get hit by buses and their genes will be removed from the pool while those who keep their phones will live long enough to procreate before dying of TCPC "the cell phone cancer".

My point: We are all responsible for our own diligence, decisions and risks. If you engage this debate, you are as dumb as the controversy/advertising/ratings driven producer. At least he has an agenda and has suceeded in meeting his business objective by playing you and getting you to post, propagate and drive even more people to enhance the ad revenue potential of CNN and NYT.

Good thing not too many read your blog or this really would have sent the wrong positive re-enforcement for more drivel media and the NYT might start to look like the National Inquirer.

Oops, maybe it's too late. My point is that when it's information that really matters and can be life changing, why would anyone we would ever want to contribute genetically, ever bother to take these sources seriously.

What I have learned today:

1)All information is flawed if you stare at it long enough
2)Life is all about calculated risks for those with common sense
3)Common sense is not at all common
4)People are generally stupid and bored
5)Advertisers pay media outlets to garner the attention of the masses.
6)There's masses of stupid and bored people willing to proliferate information
7)The most sensational information get into wider distribution via blogs.
8)These people distribute the links to the source material in an effort to state their pro/con position
9)These links cause other stupid and board people to flock the pro or con side of sensational information.
10)This scales and repeats, repeats, repeats, repeats itself producing sensational advertising revenue driving stock prices sky high thereby fueling investor interest and positive re-inforcement to keep finding the best and most controversial carrots to dangle in front of the stupid masses to be herded.

The key is having just the right balance of non-controversial content to keep people thinking that they are not a cog.

I always wondered why they call it the "Ad Game".

DNE

Benjy Weinberger

Right on.

The media tends to assume that balance requires giving equal time to both sides of any issue, no matter how preposterous one side may be. Their thought processes are too simplistic to comprehend the notion of probability. Basically, if you can't conclusively prove that something is false, we must give it a 50% chance of being true...

Brad Lake

YES>YES>YES - I rarely read and re-read blogmatter but Arnold has this one nailed. Thanks for opening my eyes a wee bit wider. We are all pawns in the media machine. My only additions is that we need a neutral rating agency (such as with bonds, ala JD Power, etc.) focused on those with integrity and value while weeding out those who provide valuable insight from those who amplify and echo controversial garbage created for the sake of driving traffic.

gregorylent

science is not the means for discovering the truth/untruth of this, it is too primitive.

we are the instruments to discover this.

every human being is incredibly different from his neighbor as to sensitivity.

chemicals, polyester shirts, sick buildings, auto exhaust, everybody has different sensitivity.

my cellphone signal, just checking into the tower, makes my usb speakers buzz.

there is clearly something physical happening, whether "science" can figure it out or not.

take radiation, science says we cannot feel it, but just ask any experienced industrial radiographer if he can feel if the pill is out, and he will say yes.

science is so often a joke, dependent on funding, that they really should not be given much credibility.

yes, we all will continue to use these tools, until something better comes along. try to be conscious about it

enjoy, gregory lent

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I think Darwin was on to something. This is all part of a beautiful test that will advance civilization because everyone whose intelligence quotient had them reading or watching this debate to the end of the article/show hopefully will make a personal decision about the risks associated with something that clearly, beyond a shadow of a doubt, has a remote chance of potentially happening at some point in the future.

Hans

Their thought processes are too simplistic to comprehend the notion of probability. http://www.rapidsloth.com

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