Category: CBS News

Headline-spectrum of the day: Dino-apocalypse by ‘wind’

So apparently, the dinosaurs are extinct. That’s not really news of course (time to let it go, Nessie fans). But what is making the news is some new research about how those terrible lizards ended up shuffling off this mortal coil en masse.

There is quite good geological evidence that some kind of massive catastrophic event occurred around 65 million years ago, pretty much around about the same time that dinosaurs stopped appearing in the fossil record. Most kids today will tell you that this was caused by a large asteroid (a theory known as the Alvarez impact hypothesis), but some scientists argue with these kids and believe instead that those geological remnants are not inconsistent with multiple asteroidal impacts, or perhaps with the world’s biggest volcano going ‘pop’ (or something).

A dinosaur earlier this year. Obviously.

But today we saw reports offering an alternative theory. Continue reading “Headline-spectrum of the day: Dino-apocalypse by ‘wind’”

“Marriage saves lives!” (Well, it has a nice ring to it…)

So, apparently, being married is good for you. Married, I tells ya, as in party to a matrimonial contractual arrangement with a legally eligible spouse. Why might this be? Well, one advantage to being married is that your tax and inheritance provisions tend to be facilitated by legislation in ways that materially advantage you over non-married folk. And if you are inclined toward such stuff, you may also expect your relationship will be spiritually blessed by whatever deity you think morally underwrites your existence.

But what you mightn’t count on are the associated medical benefits. And quite specific ones at that. Because, according to several media reports this week, scientists have now revealed that “being married” makes you twice as likely to be alive 15 years after heart surgery. Or three times as likely, if you read a different media website. Or four times as likely if you read another. Whichever, it seems like quite a lot. Put the other way around, it means that not being married makes you only half, a third, or a quarter as likely to survive as someone who has been wedded in holy (or civil) matrimony.

It was a pretty simple message; so simple, in fact, that the media ended up gravitating toward a relatively narrow repertoire of similarly worded headlines. The LA Times went with “Marriage helps the heart“, while CBS News had “Marriage tied to longer survival after heart bypass“. Both USA Today and CNN came up with “Marriage helps survival after heart surgery“. Meanwhile, some of the more socially conservative outlets emphasized the importance of having a cohesive marriage: “Take Heart! A good marriage protects even after a bypass” proclaimed Fox News; while the Christian Post declared that “Healthy marriages lead to healthy hearts“. And these pronouncements were not intended as social value-statements moderated by conservative editorial stances. No, science told us that all this is so, apparently.

Except it didn’t, of course. Continue reading ““Marriage saves lives!” (Well, it has a nice ring to it…)”

Sit down while I explain…

In case you haven’t heard, tobacco smoking is very bad for your health. In fact, it is extremely dangerous. It is associated with an astoundingly morbid gallery of adverse consequences, including a quadrupling of cardiovascular disease risk, a quadrupling of stroke risk, at least a dozen-fold increase in lung cancer risk, an increased risk of respiratory conditions such as emphysema and bronchitis, as well as higher levels of infertility, reduced bone density, and even gangrene. In addition to cancer of the lungs, smoking contributes to the onset of cancers of the kidney, larynx, oesophegus, mouth, stomach, bladder, and uterus, making it one of the most cancerous of all human activities. The US Center for Disease Control reckon that smoking kills more Americans each year than HIV/AIDS, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined. But, now, the Daily Mail is telling us that research shows you probably engage in an even more dangerous habit. You — yes, YOU — are very probably engaging in it right now, thereby hastening the arrival of your own imminent death. And what is that you are doing that is so very deadly? Well, you’re going to be surprised. It might even make you fall off your chair. Because it is… sitting. As in “sitting down“. Yes, according to the Daily Mail this week, “Sitting can be more dangerous than smoking“.

Given that the vast majority of our species spends quite a lot of time sitting down, this is quite bad news for the human race in general. And so it was with some discernible relish that the ever fearful Daily Mail reported the story. They even carried quotes from a victim of this devastating blight, someone who sat but who lived to tell the tale. But guess what? It turns out that the Daily Mail got it wrong (and the quoted victim wasn’t best pleased). Now, who’d have thought that possible? Continue reading “Sit down while I explain…”

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