Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Fear Nannies Strike Again!

A short prelude to the main entry: I recall some months ago reading about this southern California guy with perfect health numbers- cholesterol about 140 (LDL of 79), BMI of 24, and extraordinary heart and lung capacity. Anyway, he attended to jogging his usual 5 miles down a canyon road....and nobody heard from him for days.

He was later found, partially eaten, attacked by a mountain lion...

Moral of the tale: I don't care how healthy or robust you are, your ticket can be punched on any given day by any given cause or agent. Which brings me to the headline I read in today's local paper:


New Study shows every hour you watch tube will enhance chances of death...

My first reaction was that I became immensely pissed, so much so I could feel my blood pressure rising. I wondered if some other set of medical numskulls might then do a study on how many people are killed while reading stories about how many people die from watching TV?

But that anger soon passed and I read on, curious to see what the health fear mongers had to circulate: Evidently, an Australian study of 8,800 people - conducted over a 6 year period- found that those who said they watched TV for more than four hours per day were 46% more likely to die of "any cause" and 80% more likely to die of cardiovascular disease. Evidently too, the risk of croaking rose by 11% for every hour you sat in front of the tube.

Can we say that TVs are "serial killers"?

Of course, the gurus that did this study, obviously wouldn't be able to stop there- since clearly computer monitors are ALSO TVs, effectively - and people who work at them, whether writing books, newspaper articles or just blogging, must run the same risks. And presto - that was extrapolated(ibid.):

"these results would also likely apply to any sedentary activity including sitting at the computer writing emails or blogs, or reading...."

At that point I threw the paper down in disgust.

Isn't it enough these irrepressible nanny researchers have sucked the life out of every other facet of life - from not knowing which food will kill you, to now being informed certain vitamins you'd been taking for years (like selenium and Vitamin E) now pose cancer risks? Now, we can't even watch TV, or blog or read (which often requires hours at one sitting if you don't wish to lose your train of thought).

But here's the kicker, as with the many food studies (that all seem to contradict each other), we have no remote idea what exact statistics were used. We do know that in many such studies the logical error of post hoc ergo propter hoc often emerges. Let me explain. Say the citizens of some nation X are found to die on certain dates. These dates are cross-checked with numerous external phenomena and it is found that in each case, the deaths occur after a class X-9 solar flare has occurred within 30 heliographic degrees of the solar meridian.

So what study header might we use?

X-9 Solar Flares kill people!

This is pure poppycock and horse pockey. Just because event B occurs after A doesn't mean that A caused B. This also reminds me of a French study done in the 1970s, by Michel Gauquelin, wich found that at every Martian opposition (when Mars appears in our sky directly opposite the Sun) UFO sightings increased over 100%. Is one now going to assert "Martian oppositions cause UFO sightings?"

Actually, at the time, many media outlets committed even more outrageous logical transgressions and asserted: "Mars ships appear in Earth skies at each opposition".

The other aspect that we'd like to know is what manner or mode of TV viewing coincided with the greatest incidence of cardiac deaths? Was it Disney cartoons? PBS documentaries - like on Avian Flu (which are certainly scary)? Their Celtic Woman musical broadcasts? Sports events - like NFL games? (Which outcomes - if not good for her team - can actually reduce my wife to screaming, crying and pounding her fists on the recliner). Or flicks from porno or soft porno cable stations? Inquiring minds want to know!

We'd also like to know - when these researchers say TV watchers are 46% more likely to die from ANY CAUSE, exactly which causes pop up the most? Burst hemorrhoids? Burst bladders? Falling asleep with a cigarette in the hand, and setting the tv room on fire, along with the resident couch potato?

All of it would be laughable if not for the fact these researchers are serious, or at least pretend to be.

The cruel fact is that - if serious - this is a cruel study. American lives are already severely circumscribed by the recession. As I also showed (U.S. Propaganda industry series), the corporate dictatorship of this country ensures vast inequality - so citizens are not only denied an equitable distribution of goods and services, but they are politically marginalized because there is little real choice - where it counts. (Say whether to step into another war, with more scarce resources sacrificed, even as our remnant infrastructure crumbles).

More than 22 million have no jobs, and so can't even afford to go the local movie theater or (what these Aussie researchers might expect) join a gym for $24 a month. Walking is fine, but in many places (like Florida) you take your life in your hands just taking a stroll from your domecile to the nearest restaurant. For example, when I was in Port Charlotte in July, you took your chances hiking down U.S. 41 from the hotel to the nearest Mickey D's. No sidewalks, no cross walks, heavy traffic.

In other places, crime is so high that a random walker out to get his daily constitutional - is likely to be shot at in a drive by.

In this scene, television provides a cheap and wonderful recreation which almost anyone can enjoy. And yet these hard hearted, moron medical nannies want to remove it under another umbrella of fear and panic - as if people don't have enough to worry about what with boarding planes and terr'ists that like to stuff PETN in their panties.

Here's another thought for them: irrespective of how TV can "kill", or even smoking, or the new giant 64 oz. burgers offered in Wisconsin, we all gotta go sometime. The true fact is the planet is already overpopulated, not underpopulated - by about a factor of three. Each year the demographic horror of aged societies weighs down ever more- as budgets are bankrupted by entitlement obligations (Note: I detest the word 'entitlement' - but can think of no other word here that works). The onus then should technically and theoretically be not extending life overly long, but enabling more short circuiting. Certainly, many nations would be grateful and not so terrified - at the propect of having to provide benefits for tens of millions.

To put another capper on this, some months ago an article in The Financial Times pointed out that the biggest medical cost burdens do not arise from chronic unhealthy citizens - like smokers, or fast food guzzlers, or TV watchers (by extension). They arise from the health addicts who manage to get their skinny selves into their 80s by regularly eating lentils, and dandelion leaves....and running 10 miles a day -- then later get a host of medical problems when even their bodies give out. Meanwhile, the fast food addicts and their smoking, tv-watching brethren, have long since shuffled their mortal coils. The article estimated that each of these healthy - or once healthy standouts cost the (given) state an additional million in their last six months of life, compared to a half mil for the unhealthy lot. Even more astounding, the total extra health cost burdens imposed by the healthy are 1.5- 1.7 x more than the unhealthy brigade. Evidently, this is because the latter conk out one time more frequently, and don't hang on. (Often receiving extraordinary care measures).

In other words, it's the health nuts draining the national benefits and medical budgets. Maybe time now for fewer of these laughable health articles, which owing to their transparent scare tactics -no one takes seriously.

We all gotta go sometime. And btw, those who punch out earlier are sure to avoid the hell on Earth that is headed our way with the runaway greenhouse effect!

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