Not really a topic for this blog, except insofar as it offers some insight into the
ways in which manifest pseudo-science, supported on the public teat,
is a vital part of the ideological apparatus. An old pal recently passed this
along to me:
New Study Identifies Risk Factors That Lead to Bicycling Injuries
in City Traffic
The streets of New York City can be dangerous for
bicyclists, but they can be especially risky for young adult male
bicyclists who don’t wear helmets, have too much to drink, or
are listening to music through earphones, a group of investigators
from New York City’s Bellevue Hospital reported ....
This study [was] commissioned by the State of New York....
Danger, Will Robinson!
87 percent were men and 96 percent were over age 18; 13 percent were
intoxicated; five percent were listening to music.
Despite helmet laws, only 24 percent of the injured bicyclists were
Well, when the State of New York pays you to come up with some
numbers, you come up with some numbers. Never mind that the numbers
The problem, of course, is the missing denominator.
The Nine Doctors who signed this brain-
dead document report that 13%
of injured cyclists in New York are listening to music.
Well, that's nice
to know. But it tells you nothing about music as a risk factor(*).
If 13% of
the cyclists who made it home safe and sound were also listening to music,
then music isn't a risk factor at all. If 20% of the safe and sound
cyclists were listening to music, then music makes you safer.
You see the problem? 87% of injured cyclists were male? Well,
what percentage of cyclists in general are male? 80%? 90%?
Without knowing these background numbers, the stats which the
long-suffering taxpayers of New York paid these Dr Feelbads
to accumulate are, bluntly, dogshit. They mean nothing. Less
than nothing; they darken counsel by words without wisdom,
as Jehovah observed in one of His testy moments.
There are a few cases where the denominator actually is provided,
and the conclusions are, shall we say, unsurprising:
New York City mandates helmets on all
working cyclists—the latter typified by the bicycle delivery persons
weaving through Midtown traffic. Forty-one percent of the study
subjects sustained injuries on the job, but only about one-third of
those working cyclists (32 percent) were wearing helmets.
“I don’t think the New York City laws are being
enforced,” Dr. Frangos said.
Well, duuhh. We could all tell the good Doctor about a number of
other laws that aren't being enforced, some of them rather
consequential -- when, I wonder, was the last time a New York
cop wrote a driver a ticket for failure to yield to a pedestrian?
Much less a cyclist?
Frangos' conclusion is accurate though banal; note however that his
stats say nothing about the efficacy of helmets, or about "risk
factors." He's just discovered the stop-the-presses news that
New York cops don't "enforce" Mickey Mouse laws like the one about
helmets; rather, they use these law to harass people they don't like.
Some results have a certain, no doubt unintended, drollery:
Eighteen percent of the injured cyclists were using a bike
lane and 17 percent collided with a vehicle door.
Hmmm. Same number, roughly. Maybe bike lanes are a risk factor?
Maybe they put you in the Door Zone? Why... why... Stop the striping!
The investigators [are] seeking a state grant that would have
practitioners speak to community groups to reinforce bicycle safety
measures and prevent further traumatic injuries to bicyclists.
I bet they are seeking yet another grant, extracted from my pocket,
for dogshit science, and I bet
they get it. Propaganda is always well-funded
by the public purse.
Coauthors with Drs. Frangos and Ayoung-Chee are George Foltin, MD;
Ronald J. Simon, MD, FACS; Deborah Levine, MD; Omar Bholat, MD, FACS;
Dekeya Slaughter-Larkem; Steven S. Schumacher, MD, FACS; and H. Leon
Pachter, MD, FACS.
Dr Slaughter? Please. Too good to be true. But I wouldn't go to
any of these doctors -- not Pachter, not Foltin, not even Ayoung-Chee --
for a runny nose. I don't know what they teach in med school these days,
but clearly, elementary arithmetic is no longer required.
(*) Now, if they were listening to Vivaldi....