0925: "Cell Phones"

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0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby Sean Quixote » Fri Jul 15, 2011 4:09 am UTC

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Alt text: He holds the laptop like that on purpose, to make you cringe.

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby Palpatineli » Fri Jul 15, 2011 4:10 am UTC

I actually hold my laptop like that sometimes. This should be the only officially recognized method to hold a Thinkpad x series machine.

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby Magic Molly » Fri Jul 15, 2011 4:10 am UTC

I saw that 924 before you caught it :D

I wanted to scream until I saw the title text. Seriously. That's almost worse than bending the spines of books backwards.

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby The Scyphozoa » Fri Jul 15, 2011 4:11 am UTC

How does the guy (Rob?) know what Hat Guy is planning before he says it? I didn't.
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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby correnos » Fri Jul 15, 2011 4:11 am UTC

So if you're thinking about buying a cell phone, it's safe to assume you already have cancer.

Crap.
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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby Qaanol » Fri Jul 15, 2011 4:12 am UTC

The Scyphozoa wrote:How does the guy (Rob?) know what Hat Guy is planning before he says it? I didn't.

From the graph on the laptop screen.
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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby xX17GHDUDE17Xx » Fri Jul 15, 2011 4:18 am UTC

Methinks the W.H.O. should take a gander at http://xkcd.com/552/ (Heck, maybe BHG should too)
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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby WolfieMario » Fri Jul 15, 2011 4:58 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:
The Scyphozoa wrote:How does the guy (Rob?) know what Hat Guy is planning before he says it? I didn't.

From the graph on the laptop screen.

And BHG said he thinks the WHO got it backwards - "cell phones cause cancer", logically reversed, would be "cancer causes cell phones", so the guy was thinking that right after BHG spoke.
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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby Ptharien's Flame » Fri Jul 15, 2011 4:59 am UTC

I've never been all that into statistics, but shouldn't the labels on the graph have a clearer relationship? For example, is "Cell Phone Users" a fraction of "Total Cancer Incidence" or a fraction of "Total US Population"? (And yes, grammar Nazis, I know the puctuation is supposed to go inside the quotes, but I'm a programmer and if I did it that way, I would end up with different and/or ambiguous string literals, no?)

EDIT: fixed my own spelling (so embarrassed)

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby Magnanimous » Fri Jul 15, 2011 5:05 am UTC

Ptharien's Flame wrote:(And yes, grammar Nazis, I know the puctuation is supposed to go inside the quotes, but I'm a programmer and if I did it that way, I would and up with different and/or ambiguous string literals, no?)

Luckily, that rule's only in American grammar. The rest of us like their quotation marks to actually make sense.

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby Turing Machine » Fri Jul 15, 2011 5:06 am UTC

Magnanimous wrote:
Ptharien's Flame wrote:(And yes, grammar Nazis, I know the puctuation is supposed to go inside the quotes, but I'm a programmer and if I did it that way, I would and up with different and/or ambiguous string literals, no?)

Luckily, that rule's only in American grammar. The rest of us like their quotation marks to actually make sense.


Ah, good, this inferiority complex...

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby uncivlengr » Fri Jul 15, 2011 5:07 am UTC

From the actual release, they claim that "a positive association has been observed between exposure to [cellphones] and cancer for which a causal interpretation is considered by the Working Group to be credible, but chance, bias or confounding could not be ruled out with reasonable confidence."

That's hardly a flat-out statement that cellphones cause cancer.

Personally, I like the point made here, that if they did cause cancer, then we'd observe everyone getting ear/thigh/thumb cancer.
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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby Primis » Fri Jul 15, 2011 5:11 am UTC

at first glance, the graph seems to show that cell phones have stalled cancer rates...

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby KShrike » Fri Jul 15, 2011 5:13 am UTC

Gosh darn it, Randall.

I was already cringing before you even mentioned it. Then the alt text made it worse, because it shows that you intentionally made me cringe.

But funny, huh? Cancer causes cell phones.
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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby ysth » Fri Jul 15, 2011 5:20 am UTC

GOOMHR? My laptop just had a hinge break. And I was being careful.
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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby Waladil » Fri Jul 15, 2011 5:36 am UTC

I'm lazy. Maybe someone else here is less lazy. Anyone care to do the research to see if his graph (not necessarily his conclusion!) is accurate? It would be an interesting data point. I'd do it, but... lazy. Too lazy to even fin

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby toadpipe » Fri Jul 15, 2011 5:51 am UTC

I wanted to scream until I saw the title text. Seriously. That's almost worse than bending the spines of books backwards.


No.

Laptops are disposable devices created out of the luxury of convenience.

Break off a laptop screen? So what, pull the drive and copy any data that might be considered useful. Break the spine of a book and you've destroyed a possibly hand-crafted work of art.

See the difference?

No, of course you don't. I bet you think of yourself as a "maker" too.

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby iChef » Fri Jul 15, 2011 5:51 am UTC

I wouldn't be worried about ear/thumb/head cancer. My phone spend a very small portion of it's time in any of those locations. I'm a lot more worried about the parts it sits next to the rest of the day.
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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby blalien » Fri Jul 15, 2011 5:57 am UTC

Wouldn't it be make more sense to compare the number of cell phones to the number of incidents of the specific types of cancer cell phones are hypothesized to cause? The graph doesn't even give us a reasonable correlation.

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby Ptharien's Flame » Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:01 am UTC

blalien wrote:Wouldn't it be make more sense to compare the number of cell phones to the number of incidents of the specific types of cancer cell phones are hypothesized to cause? The graph doesn't even give us a reasonable correlation.

I was trying to say something like that, but I'm apparently a very inefficient ninja (or not one).

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby jpk » Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:16 am UTC

Magic Molly wrote:I saw that 924 before you caught it :D

I wanted to scream until I saw the title text. Seriously. That's almost worse than bending the spines of books backwards.



I think he's actually referring to the position of the laptop in the last panel... notice the proximity to genitalia... the comic is about cancer... it's not about snapping the hinges on a disposable piece of consumer gadgetry. (or maybe you're somehow finding a similarity between testicular cancer and minor damage to copy # 1,432,546,342 of Harry Potter and the Case Of the Missing Muskrat, in which case you're pretty sick, even if the balls in question are the ones on Black Hat Guy)

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby Baslim the Beggar » Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:18 am UTC

The funny thing about this is that when someone first started showing (early 50s) that there was a statistical link between smoking and cancer, one of the foremost statisticians in the world, Fisher, claimed the cancer caused smoking! He was a heavy smoker it turns out. Anyway the argument was easily shot down because it would require the cancer to have started at the average age at which people started smoking (~18)! Needless to say, there was no evidence for this.

This is discussed in the book, "The Theory That Would Not Die," a history of Bayes Theorem. Excellent reading.

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby Taymon » Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:21 am UTC

For a long time, I had the same question as the first guy in the comic. But after reading it, I went and looked back through the various reports and blog posts that I read when the WHO made their announcement, and I think I finally get it.

The announcement was that cell phone radiation would be added to IARC Group 2B, which means that it's "possibly carcinogenic to humans". Since Group 2B also includes coffee, talcum powder, carpentry, and magnetic fields (really), I suppose you could say "possibly" in the same sense that it's possible that I could win the lottery twice tomorrow. This, however, is not what comes across in the headlines. (It doesn't help that Group 2B also includes some nastier things, like DDT.)

Something goes into Group 2B if there's at least "limited" evidence that it causes cancer in humans. (There are other ways to get in, such as animal studies, but this is the one that was relevant for cell phone radiation.) Since a few studies have suggested a link between cell phones and brain cancer (including one which famously claimed that they increase cancer risk by 40%), I'm guessing that those studies were the "limited" evidence. Personally, I discount the studies entirely, because 1) they're contradicted by a lot more studies, 2) it's extremely obvious in hindsight that they were plagued with recall bias, among numerous other issues that bring their validity into question, and 3) leaving aside epidemiological evidence, cell phone radiation is non-ionizing and can't break chemical bonds, which means that it can't cause cancer by any currently understandable mechanism, and it's fantastically unlikely that one will be discovered which allows it to do so.

Given this, I know I'm not alone in not giving the aforementioned studies any credit. My guess, however, is that the WHO is more reluctant to dismiss them entirely. We can't exactly prove that they were wrong; we can only suggest certain factors that might bring their results into question. It's very rare for a peer-reviewed study to be retracted wholesale, as happened with the infamous 1998 MMR-autism study in The Lancet. In light of this, I can see how the WHO could construe the studies as "limited" evidence of a link—though I'm not sure if I agree with the decision to declare cell phones "possibly carcinogenic" on that basis.

As for the British government's recommendation, based on the announcement, that children under 16 should never use cell phones except in emergencies...well, the only explanation I can think of is that whoever made that recommendation doesn't understand the science and/or doesn't want to be on the hook in case it turns out that cell phones really are a horrible menace after all. (We see this "just in case" mentality a lot, because humans are not that good at thinking with probability, and are absolutely terrible at it when the probabilities are very low.)

I probably got a lot of things wrong here, but at least things finally seem to make sense.

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby furgle » Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:23 am UTC

toadpipe wrote:
I wanted to scream until I saw the title text. Seriously. That's almost worse than bending the spines of books backwards.


No.

Laptops are disposable devices created out of the luxury of convenience.

Break off a laptop screen? So what, pull the drive and copy any data that might be considered useful. Break the spine of a book and you've destroyed a possibly hand-crafted work of art.

See the difference?

No, of course you don't. I bet you think of yourself as a "maker" too.


wait... what!? - No, and tangent away:

I always thought these things about cringe factor: nails on a chalkboard, eating foil, bending a book backwards (although magazines seem ok), holding a laptop funny, and until the recent rise in touch screens I used to cringe at anyone touching an lcd monitor. And you all know what I'm talking about, you see the screen scream but it has no voice so it yells with colour as loud as it can spreading away from the point of contact like ripples in an bath tub. It gets worse if it is not a finger but a well crafted, and polished nail tapping on the screen. I hear the click, see the colour ripple and my heart fill with sadness. I want to yell "Stop! Stop! can't you see it has had enough. It is in pain you monster!".

Touch screens have helped me get over this cringe. I used to do the same thing when someone pulled out a usb drive without disconnecting it first. Remember when you thought that was required? But I got over that quickly.

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby salbrech » Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:42 am UTC

toadpipe wrote:
I wanted to scream until I saw the title text. Seriously. That's almost worse than bending the spines of books backwards.


No.

Laptops are disposable devices created out of the luxury of convenience.

Break off a laptop screen? So what, pull the drive and copy any data that might be considered useful. Break the spine of a book and you've destroyed a possibly hand-crafted work of art.

See the difference?


Because you can't pull the the spine off, and put the pages into a new binder and still have the same information? Its not like the pages are being burnt.

Last I checked, books are now mass produced, there's not a story of how the author stayed up every night hand binding each book so they're all unique.

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby jpk » Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:45 am UTC

salbrech wrote:
toadpipe wrote:
I wanted to scream until I saw the title text. Seriously. That's almost worse than bending the spines of books backwards.


No.

Laptops are disposable devices created out of the luxury of convenience.

Break off a laptop screen? So what, pull the drive and copy any data that might be considered useful. Break the spine of a book and you've destroyed a possibly hand-crafted work of art.

See the difference?


Because you can't pull the the spine off, and put the pages into a new binder and still have the same information? Its not like the pages are being burnt.

Last I checked, books are now mass produced, there's not a story of how the author stayed up every night hand binding each book so they're all unique.


And laptops are hand-crafted? Michael Dell stays up every night assembling each laptop he sells?

I'm not following you here...

In any case, it's a hell of a lot easier to recover any data you might have on the hard drive (which is not damaged by breaking a hinge) than it is to pull off the spine and whatever whatnot.

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby jgh » Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:48 am UTC

Over the last 50 years, Coca Cola consumption has increased in line with teenage pregnancy rates, therefor Coca Cola consumption causes teenage pregnancy.

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby glasnt » Fri Jul 15, 2011 7:06 am UTC

Pancakes are destroying pirates.

*show graph of the decline of pirates compared to the global distribution of pancake franchises*

SCIENCE

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby hetas » Fri Jul 15, 2011 7:25 am UTC

glasnt wrote:Pancakes are destroying pirates.

*show graph of the decline of pirates compared to the global distribution of pancake franchises*

SCIENCE

I thought pirate attacks have been on the rise for a few years now. Is there something happening in the pancake-industry causing this?

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby FormicaArchonis » Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:04 am UTC

I had cancer.

Three years later I bought a cell phone

HA! ANECDOTAL PROOF! It's the strongest proof ever because it happened to me and not some random person on the Internet.

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby AvatarIII » Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:11 am UTC

jpk wrote:
Magic Molly wrote:I saw that 924 before you caught it :D

I wanted to scream until I saw the title text. Seriously. That's almost worse than bending the spines of books backwards.



I think he's actually referring to the position of the laptop in the last panel... notice the proximity to genitalia... the comic is about cancer... it's not about snapping the hinges on a disposable piece of consumer gadgetry. (or maybe you're somehow finding a similarity between testicular cancer and minor damage to copy # 1,432,546,342 of Harry Potter and the Case Of the Missing Muskrat, in which case you're pretty sick, even if the balls in question are the ones on Black Hat Guy)


i'm pretty certain that the joke was that the alt text could easily refer to both, and the panel you assume is the one the text is refering to is supposed to say something about your character (and/or gender?)

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby ysth » Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:22 am UTC

Magnanimous wrote:The rest of us like their quotation marks to actually make sense.

Tell me that was intentional. Please.
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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby Demosthenes » Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:34 am UTC

Or is it that teenagers tend to give birth to soft drinks?

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby You, sir, name? » Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:58 am UTC

ysth wrote:GOOMHR? My laptop just had a hinge break. And I was being careful.


Depends on the brand. I wouldn't hesitate to hold my old Thinkpad like that, that was a seriously sturdy piece of kit. Other flimsier laptops, ... uh, I'd better not.
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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby Klear » Fri Jul 15, 2011 9:04 am UTC

Wait, why is he showing us a graph that doesn't even remotely suggest what he's saying?

I mean... it looks more like cell phones are curing cancer, even though only slightly.

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby Steroid » Fri Jul 15, 2011 10:01 am UTC

Hmm. . . I wonder if by bringing about research into miniaturization of radiation transmitters, cancer might not have caused cell phones. (Or "ular teles" as I think we ought to call them)

Magnanimous wrote:
Ptharien's Flame wrote:(And yes, grammar Nazis, I know the puctuation is supposed to go inside the quotes, but I'm a programmer and if I did it that way, I would and up with different and/or ambiguous string literals, no?)

Luckily, that rule's only in American grammar. The rest of us like their quotation marks to actually make sense.

Actually, that's not the American rule. Ptharien's Flame was gramatically correct. Periods and commas always go inside quotes, but "tall" punctuation goes inside or out depending on their applicability, with "inside" winning the tie. Thus:

Edward Albee wrote "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (question mark on the inside because it's part of the quote)

Did he also write "The Sandbox"? (question mark on the outside because it's part of the question)

God dammit, neither of those was as good as "Oliver!" (exclamation mark on the inside on a tie)

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby mojacardave » Fri Jul 15, 2011 10:40 am UTC

jpk wrote:
salbrech wrote:
toadpipe wrote:
I wanted to scream until I saw the title text. Seriously. That's almost worse than bending the spines of books backwards.


No.

Laptops are disposable devices created out of the luxury of convenience.

Break off a laptop screen? So what, pull the drive and copy any data that might be considered useful. Break the spine of a book and you've destroyed a possibly hand-crafted work of art.

See the difference?


Because you can't pull the the spine off, and put the pages into a new binder and still have the same information? Its not like the pages are being burnt.

Last I checked, books are now mass produced, there's not a story of how the author stayed up every night hand binding each book so they're all unique.


And laptops are hand-crafted? Michael Dell stays up every night assembling each laptop he sells?

I'm not following you here...

In any case, it's a hell of a lot easier to recover any data you might have on the hard drive (which is not damaged by breaking a hinge) than it is to pull off the spine and whatever whatnot.


From my point of view, sentimentality over books is getting a bit excessive. People treat them as the last bastion of intellect, as though people who get their information from a screen are somehow learning less. It's the same reason that library closures provoke so much hostility, when they're CLEARLY an outdated concept. There's no way public libraries are going to exist in 50 years, except for some of the biggest, most famous ones.

Physical books themselves are just as mass produced as computers. Yes, superficially damaging the case of a laptop doesn't destroy the data, but even the most simple of repairs is likely to set you back as much as the cost of replacing a broken book (fiction anyway). When it comes to taking out the hard drive and installing it in a new machine, you're talking hundreds.

Ergo I agree with the original poster. Holding a machine like that is MUCH worse than bending the spine of a book back.

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby Uno » Fri Jul 15, 2011 10:53 am UTC

Klear wrote:I mean... it looks more like cell phones are curing cancer, even though only slightly.


It's pretty obvious that they do. I mean, look at the evidence: What kills cancer cells? Radiation therapy. What do cell phones make? Lots of radiation. Also, irritating ring tones in some cases, but the studies on how ring tones effect cancer are inconclusive.

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby JustDoug » Fri Jul 15, 2011 11:09 am UTC

toadpipe wrote:Break off a laptop screen? So what, pull the drive and copy any data that might be considered useful. Break the spine of a book and you've destroyed a possibly hand-crafted work of art.

See the difference?

No, of course you don't. I bet you think of yourself as a "maker" too.


I'll bet your company issues you your laptops, 'cause I've yet to see a laptop that costs less than any but the most expensive of books.

I'll also bet that HR will be wanting to have a word with you soon, provided the IT department posse doesn't get to you first.


p.s. I doubt you craft your own laptops.

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Re: 0925: "Cell Phones"

Postby paulrowe » Fri Jul 15, 2011 1:32 pm UTC

Steroid wrote:God dammit, neither of those was as good as "Oliver!" (exclamation mark on the inside on a tie)

Isn't "Oliver!" the name of the musical anyway? Wouldn't the exclamation point belong inside quotes anyway?
And I was also taught that punctuation belonged inside the quotes only if it was essentially part of the quoted material. Frustrating is how many grammar-checkers want to correct me on this. For example: The book was hailed as "imaginative" and "surreal".


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