You should see the Macalope’s biceps right now. He’s totally ripped from all the tables he had to flip because of this piece in the New York Times by Nick Bilton.
“The Health Concerns in Wearable Tech”
Well, Macalope, you say, that’s not so bad. What’s the problem with noting the health concerns of wearable tech?
Yeah, well, here’s the original headline:
“Could Wearable Computers Be as Harmful as Cigarettes?”
AAAAAAAGH! [runs and jumps out of window to save self from deadly lung-cancer-causing wristwatch]
Come on, New York Times. We prefer our scare-mongering, link-baiting headlines to come from the Forbes “contributor” network or Business Insider. In other words, places where we can safely isolate the unrepentant goofballs and jerkweeds who write these things so they can not affect the population at large with their bizarre fringe theories.
Bilton opens by ominously mentioning how the tobacco industry used to use doctors to advertise their products around the middle of the previous century. We all know that’s wrong now, right? Well, it’s kind of awesome in its audacity, but completely wrong in its cavalier attitude toward, oh, killing millions of people by tricking them into inhaling poison. We get that now. That’s how much humans have evolved as a species. (Exactly that much and not an inch more.)
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.
We have long suspected that malicious imps are living in our kitchen cupboards but every time we turn to look at them they disappear. Maybe “disturbed blood rhythms” is a real thing but it sure sounds like “ill bodily humors” and medieval medicine is right in line with this piece.
A reader of the Times pointed out why the Style section should not be writing about science.
Unlike the sort of radiation we are usually concerned about, like X-rays or nuclear fallout, no mechanism is known to exist whereby cancer can result from non-ionizing radiation like that put out by cellphones. This goes unmentioned.
Sounds like “big science” — you know, the brand of science that requires facts to prove things and doesn’t think you should be throwing around wild accusations and stuff like that — must have gotten to that guy.
Back to Bilton:
Yet here we are in 2015, with companies like Apple and Samsung encouraging us to buy gadgets that we should attach to our bodies all day long.
They probably also encourage fluoridation in our drinking water.
Wait, is there a Godwin’s Law for going full lung cancer on a product? “BLAZARAZZLEFLOZZLE THIS THING THAT ISN’T OUT YET WILL PROBABLY KILL YOU NO I HAVE NO PROOF.”
Nick, let’s see if we can find the point where you and your editor should have stopped this car crash before it careened off the road, through a guard rail and exploded spectacularly over Nutso Von Butso Gorge.
While there is no definitive research on the health effects of wearable computers (the Apple Watch isn’t even on store shelves yet)…
Right there. If there is no definitive research on the health effects of wearable computers then guess what, New York Times dude. You have no story.
Alas, Bilton has not even begun to get out his “Johnny Science Home Science Kit for Young Scienceamtists.”
…we can hypothesize a bit from existing research on cellphone radiation.
No! You can’t! You know why? They’re inconclusive! And you’re not conducting any further science! You can’t take a bunch of inconclusive evidence and try to draw conclusions from it! THAT’S WHY IT’S CALLED “INCONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE”!
Sweet Carl Sagan on a Segway, man!
After dissecting dozens of peer-reviewed studies on cellphone safety, the [International Agency for Research on Cancer, a panel within the World Health Organization,] concluded in 2011 that cellphones were “possibly carcinogenic”
And you know what “possibly” means. “Totally and completely, ZOMG, sooo carcinogenic, you guys are all dying right now.” Even that study — the one that said “Eh, possibly, maybe, heck if I know” — has been called “hopelessly flawed”.
Another study, Bilton warned, said “a ‘small to moderate increase’ in cancer risk among heavy cellphone users could not be ruled out.” Which is just another way of saying you have all the brain cancer right now.
But what does all this research tell the Apple faithful…
You’re applying all the scientific rigor of a Hollywood astrologer and you have the nerve to talk about “the Apple faithful”?
…who want to rush out and buy an Apple Watch…?
Nothing! It tells them nothing! There are no conclusions in these studies! “Inconclusive” is a word you can look up in the dictionary if that will help!
The only person Bilton quoted in this piece was Dr. Joseph Mercola, who has been favorably referred to as, and the Macalope quotes, “a complete quack”. So he’s got that going for him.
Bilton was at least taken to the polite woodshed of the Times’ Public Editor who noted the Times’ Science section staff had objected to the original title. That may have been all that the Times’ titular Science objected to but actual science objects to the whole thing.