Science Journal Admits Those Bone Horns Were Wrong

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Remember the study claiming smartphone usage caused bone horns to grow on millennials? The publisher now admits the conclusion was false. But other scientists say their correction is still false.

While the correction attempts to clarify the record on smartphones, it does not do anything to address the fact that the study’s main finding — that poor posture and age are connected to neck bone spurs — still isn’t supported by the underlying data…

“I actually think Nature should remove the original article as the correction has not proved their point,” said Sara Becker, a bioarchaeologist at the University of California Riverside.

Researchers Test Phones to See if They're Secretly Listening

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Siri, are you spying on me?

Researchers put an iPhone and a Samsung phone into a room, playing cat and dog food advertising for 30 minutes.

The security specialists kept apps open for Facebook, Instagram, Chrome, SnapChat, YouTube, and Amazon with full permissions granted to each platform…They repeated the experiment at the same time for three days, and noted no relevant pet food adverts on the “audio room” phones and no significant spike in data or battery usage.

The results won’t surprise those in the information security industry who’ve known for years that the truth is that tech giants know so much about us that they don’t actually need to listen to our conversations to serve us targeted adverts.

For some people, maybe the belief that phones secretly spy on us is less terrifying than learning how much data these corporations actually have on us.

Study Claims iPhone 7 Exceeds Radiation Limit

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The Chicago Tribune claims that its study of iPhone 7 and other smartphones exceed the safety limit for cellphone radiation. Using a “tub of clear liquid, specially formulated to simulate human tissue” it found radiation exposure from the iPhone 7 was more than double what Apple reported from its own testing. Apple disputes the study, and the FCC will conduct further studies.

Cellphones use radio waves to communicate with a vast network of fixed installations called base stations or cell towers. These radio waves are a form of electromagnetic radiation, in the same frequency range used by TVs and microwave ovens.

This kind of radiation, also known as radiofrequency energy, shouldn’t be confused with ionizing radiation, such as gamma rays and X-rays, which can strip electrons from atoms and cause serious biological harm, including cancer.

Of course, there is no conclusive evidence that non-ionizing radiation is powerful enough to have a measurable effect on the human body. John Kheit and I agree to disagree 😉

40,000 Households in Kentucky Don't Have Internet Access

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A study of data from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the U.S. Census Bureau shows internet access across America. Kentucky is the worst state with 40,000 households without internet access. America’s Internet Divide The data is from 2017, which is the most recent information. Income and education both played a role in…

That Study Showing Kids Sprouting Horns is Probably Bogus

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Beth Mole reminds us that scientific studies are more nuanced than a sensationalized news story. The Washington Post wrote about a study showing kids sprouting horns because of bad posture, and phones were to blame. But it’s probably bogus.

Perhaps the most striking problems are that the study makes no mention of horns and does not include any data whatsoever on mobile devices usage by its participants who, according to the Post, are growing alleged horns. Also troubling is that the study authors don’t report much of the data, and some of the results blatantly conflict with each other.

iPhone Users 2x as Likely to Text and Drive

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In a new study (n=2,000) 51% of iPhone users said they text and drive, compared to 35% for Android users.

16% of iPhone users said they never get distracted while driving (vs. 23% of Android users and 38% of users of other mobile operating systems).

iPhone users are more than twice as likely than Android users to video-chat, use Instagram, stream shows on Netflix or Hulu, and take photos and videos while driving.

10% of iPhone users admitted watching videos on YouTube while driving, while 4% of Android users admitted to doing the same.

Which One is Better for the Environment: Physical or Digital Music?

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A study published yesterday found that streaming digital music led to “unintended” environmental and economic impacts. Despite a reduction in the use of plastics in physical music media, storing and transmitting digital music led to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

Researchers discovered that the amount of GHGs generated by the streaming and downloading of music online is actually much larger than the amount that was once generated by the production of plastic used to make vinyl records, cassettes and CDs in earlier decades.

The study seems focused on plastic use in physical media vs. storing and streaming digital music from servers. I’d like to see more data, such as how much electricity is used when billions of people play the average CD vs. a digital song.

 

Some Guidelines on how to Spot Bad Science

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Recently I wrote a PSA on Wi-Fi and cancer, and a lot of people disagree with me by sending me links to studies and other news that also disagree. That’s fine, but at the same time a lot more effort goes into scientific research than cherry picking Google results. I don’t claim to know better than these studies, but a scientific study needs to be taken into context of the field as a whole. John Oliver had a good segment on studies and how they can be misunderstood. Compound Interest has a rough guide to spotting bad science and red flags to watch out for. I’ve made use of this guide for some time, and I think it’s helpful.

This graphic looks at the different factors that can contribute towards ‘bad’ science – it was inspired by the research I carried out for the recent aluminium chlorohydrate graphic, where many articles linked the compound to causing breast cancer, referencing scientific research which drew questionable conclusions from their results.