Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Problem With Reading

“I believe virtually everything I read and I think that is what make me more of a selective human.”

David St. Hubbins



I’m interrupting cycling month for a little rant. As one who’s spent most of their professional life as an educator I’m a huge proponent of reading. But when an “article” like the one published by MSN the other day gets thousands of shares and hundred of comments not stating “this is the worst thing I’ve ever seen in print” it makes me want to become a government sensor so I can ban crap like this. Because the fact that people—even if it’s only a fraction of the population—are swayed by such drivel is disgusting. May I present MSN's finest:

Don't envy skinny pals: You may live longer if you're fat

This might be a provocative title if it had any truth but the second sentence casually renders it useless, stating that according to a study being overweight doesn’t lead to early mortality “if you discount the folks with diabetes and hypertension” (in other words “people who are overweight”). That’s like saying a study showed fast food was perfectly healthy is you discount the people in the study who ate fast food.

I’m not exaggerating. Diabetes (type 2) is the fastest growing illness in the world and has been for over a decade. Its number one cause (basically its only cause) is obesity. The CDC states nearly 10% of the Americans have it but also claim the actual numbers are unknown and likely much higher because many poor and overweight people are undiagnosed. As for hypertension, the FDA estimates that number at 65 million with the same disclaimer. These numbers completely cover, with estimated room to spare, the national obesity rate, currently hovering between 30-40%.

MSN then states that the highest risk group for early mortality is the underweight, which when you throw out overweight only means underweight is worse than being the ideal weight. Whomever at MSN wrote and approved this headline should not only be fired, but banned from journalism for life. All of which reminds me of another classic film quote,

“Apes don’t read philosophy.”

“Yes they do, Otto. They just don’t understand it.”



All of this coming full circle to the real lesson of today, which is just how much less funny the world would be without Christopher Guest’s friends and family.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Barbie Decker lol love
49 minutes ago · Like

Barbie Decker I had that problem way into grad school. That was a problem. I'm cured now.
48 minutes ago · Like

Steve Edwards Maybe MSN starts with a headline they want and write an article to suit it, no matter if it's wrong or not.
21 minutes ago · Like

Dan Faye Keep away from the Murdoc's Organization pulp!
14 minutes ago · Like

Matt Withers said...

I know you were in a fury so I'll give you a pass on the partial misinformation about diabetes :-)

1) You do not make a distinction between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 is insulin dependent, usually diagnosed at a young age and has nothing to do with obesity. In fact very little is known about it's causation, though some correlation to genetics appears to exist.

2) That 10% includes Type 1 diabetics which account for 1-2% of cases worldwide.

Your overall point is solid since obesity DOES primarily lead to Type 2 diabetes, and it comprises the majority of cases of diabetes, but since your article is about discounting important specifics when making an argument, I thought it was an important oversight.

Steve Edwards said...

Fair enough. I didn't feel it was worth mentioning because in the case here it amounts to nitpicking, which was not the point at all. In general, as you probably know, I'm all for thorough deconstruction so thanks for the distinction.

Matt Withers said...

Only reason I nitpick the issue is that as a Type 1 diabetic, I'm often surprised how little understanding of what diabetes is, and what its care entails, that people have. Especially given how prevalent it is.

I'm not at all confident that a better understanding would help with the diabetes rates since people seem to have more self-control issues with diet than any other lifestyle factor, but even you might be surprised by the number of people I've met who either think I'm supposed to eat nothing but sugar all the time, or that eating one candy bar will kill me dead, right on the spot :-)

The fact that there are two different types of diabetes that are quite different in what their care requires isn't on most peoples radar, and if you even hint at a third (diabetes insipidus) people's faces tend to explode.

Steve Edwards said...

You're absolutely right. I've never understood why they have the same name--which I'd bet is because when type 2 was "discovered" they thought it would always be the non-serious little brother of type 1 or something. The mix up now get complex because the treatment is completely different and the emphasis (your point) has flip-flopped so much than when people now state 'diabetes" the assumption is type 2. That's the case with the MSN piece and I see how that would greatly irritate anyone with type 1--the actual disease and not lifestyle disorder.

Seth Mauldin said...

The thing that keeps me from being too worked up about "misinformation articles" like this one is that they seem to have the same effect as obviously biased political adds/articles, they don't really have any overall impact. In other words, people who agree or are looking to be vindicated will gobble it up, while people with an opposing view will simply ignore it. I imagine that all of the likes and the shares came from people like the one who left this gem in the comments section:

"I have never been more healthier since I gained weight."

Anywhoo: keep up the good work: Your's and D-Faye's blogs are what give us non MSN junkfood gobblers the strength to carry on! :-)

Steve Edwards said...

Seth,

Correctomundo! Thanks for noticing. That's exactly what we're tying to do--somehow trying to keep journalism going in a world where people only want to read things that confirms whatever they already think. I for one (and probably Denis for two) can't understand who would want to live in a world built like that.

Fred Firestine said...

As an employee for a major news provider, I have to hope that my colleagues do a better job when reporting health news. Maybe I should take a look. We have a running joke in the computer industry: "Technical issues aside, can you do this?" In other words, ignore the facts, and pretend it's true. Ugh.

Josh said...

You can't understand who would want to live in a world built like that?

Oh, I don't think it's too hard to understand.

Let me draw an analogy: I eat a french fry from McDonalds. It tastes salty. But, I don't register that it tastes salty, I register that it tastes good. Salt, afterall, is one of the things that makes food taste good. The reason I like this french fry is because it has been engineered to satisfy my body's genetic make-up to crave salt. So, I eat the whole fucking extra large bag. I wash down the "salt" flavor with a soda that coincidently was also engineered to go beautifully with my fries in order to sate natural cravings that my body has. Interestingly I can buy a soda that is even bigger than the fries - so that after I finish the fries, and still have soda left, I want....wait for it....more fries.

Now: I'm surfing through the 200 channels of shit that passes for entertainment in my country, and find myself seemingly magnetically stuck to my couch, unable to move. But it feels good to my body, and the images and sounds coming out of my boob tube reassure me that all is good, they soothe me deeper into my couch. Along comes a story about how much better I am for being overweight and watching the TV and sitting on my couch. I want nothing more than to keep being reassured about how right I am - so I keep watching TV. And my couch, surprisingly keeps feeler more and more comfortable - especially in contrast to the opposite, which is to be outside moving. Going outside sucks. And according to the smart people at MSN, it would also be suicidal for me to leave my couch.

It's imagineering as Uncle Walt never dreamt it could be.

Off to ride hill intervals. Then I'm getting a Big Mac and washing it down with whiskey. Suck it.

Josh

marc said...

per earlier points re: diabetes, not frank diabetes, per se, rather insulin intolerance/resistance or metabolic syndrome which may or may not have a pancreatic beta cell component. semantically, type ii is more or less accurate, but when considering disease associated with obesity, metabolic syndrome encompasses the panoply that's killing our chubbies (both interpretations apply aptly here). anyway, since it was brought up and i do comment from time to time, i thought i'd chime in with the nomenclature portion of today's (or 2 days ago's) discussion.

don't hate please,

marc (pre-"diabetic"-high fasting glucose due to increased glucose production (liver) with no insulin response issues. and yes, i've put on some ton-age.)

Anonymous said...

Josh, right on pal!... unfortunately miss information is comment practice among all major news agencies. I for one have read hundreds of articles that are simply untrue. The media is no place to go if you want the truth, people need to combine comment sense with there own research from good sources. (Example) Monsanto has destroyed Americas crops with GMO's and yet we hear nothing about it in mainstream media. Infact mainstream media tells us that the crops we are eating are fine. We all know what a crock that is.

Anonymous said...

I think the only thing worse is the propoganda that downplays the seriousness of Type 2 diabetes. I think if people really understood what it can and will do to them over time, there would be more people off the couch and less people eating doughnuts. Watching Type 2 take its toll on a loved one and knowing that it was preventable is heartbreaking. Being fat is not ok.