Ink Thinkin

Random thoughts from Dy Larson of Ink Think, freelance editor and copywriter

Monday, December 26, 2005

The More I Learn...

the less I know.

Cliched but true.

I've been working on my entries for my Safety blog at and every thing I've researched for this has left me with more questions.

I was working on a bit about plant safety with regard to holiday decorating, you know, mistletoe, poinsettia, stuff like that. I did one today about how to fit a bike helmet.

What I knew (ha!):

poinsettias are poisonous
so is mistletoe
helmets are a good thing

What I know now:

Poinsettias are harmless. Apparently the scientific/medical/poison control folks have know this for about 25 years.

Mistletoe is variable. First, different varieties have different toxicity levels. I'm a doofus, I had no idea there are different varieties. Second, do not try to find a straight answer on the internet. I found a ton of stuff to confirm what I 'knew'. I also found a bunch of sites, including that of the US Forest Service, saying it was only mildly toxic. So, trying to be a responsible journalist-type person I was ambivalent in my blog, mentioned both opinions and told people to consult a source they trust for a final answer (poison control, pediatrician, veterinarian, etc.)

Bicycle helmets as they are currently designed are virtually useless. Only a few studies have been done on the topic and most groups/sites with an opinion in favor use the same data. Data which is apparently suspect and skewed to give the results those performing the study wanted. I know, I know, every study is skewed, statistics are the least reliable thing in the world since the data is wide open for interpretation.

Among other things I learned:

-Vents/holes in a helmet to prevent overheating are a mistake. They reduce the amount of surface area available to spread the impact over if you fall.

-A helmet that provides the kind of protection people THINK they get with the current design would be as big as a full-head motorcycle helmet and reduce the rider's ability to see the area around herself to the point where they'd still be unsafe. They'd also be so large and bulky no one would buy them

-Most cyclists, true buffs, hate the helmet 'myth' as they call it. As an avid biker (heh) in my youth I can relate. I hate the idea of my child falling off a bike onto her head, but I also hate that helmet laws require me to deprive her of the feeling of the wind rushing through your hair as you race down a hill you busted your ass to get to the top of.

-There is no good answer on this one, a bike is transportation with its attendant risks and rewards.

-I am truly scared by the fact that legislation in most states in this country has been based on the studies mentioned above. I mean, with what I've learned in the past 36 hours I now have to wonder how many other laws for our protection, and that of our children, are based on suspect studies? HOW do we fix this so it doesn't happen again? I don't think we can, since scientists who do studies need money, and everyone who gives them money has an agenda; hell, the scientists have an agenda.

This lil blog gig is going to prove very educational, methinks.


Post a Comment

<< Home