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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cellphone Crusaders

The successful takedown of the tobacco companies, with films like The Insider and a historic 1998 settlement, has provided a template for a new generation of crusading busy-bodies. The link between cancer and tobacco consumption has been suggested for centuries, and proven for decades, prior to the 1998 settlement. Since at least the 1960s the general public has been well enough informed, by medical experts as well as government officials, of the dangers of the tobacco usage. It was more than a bit absurd to accuse Big Tobacco of hiding the dangers of its product, when these facts were widely discussed by the general public. The precedent established in the war on tobacco is being carried forward, now in the case of cell phone use. Not in arguing for an alleged link between cell phone usage and cancer, but between cell phone use and car accidents

Long before cellphones became common, industry pioneers were aware of the risks of multitasking behind the wheel. Their hunches have been validated by many scientific studies showing the dangers of talking while driving and, more recently, of texting.

Despite the mounting evidence, the industry built itself into a $150 billion business in the United States largely by winning over a crucial customer: the driver.

For years, it has marketed the virtues of cellphones to drivers. Indeed, the industry originally called them car phones and extolled them as useful status symbols in ads, like one from 1984 showing an executive behind the wheel that asked: “Can your secretary take dictation at 55 MPH?” 

“That was the business,” said Kevin Roe, a telecommunications industry analyst since 1993. Wireless companies “designed everything to keep people talking in their cars.”

Yeah, you know where this is headed. The poor darlings. No one ever told them it was dangerous not to pay attention to what you were doing, while driving a car. This article is part of the "guilt stage." Industry insiders knew it was dangerous! But did nothing! All for evil, wicked profits! Capitalism kills again! 

The critics — including safety advocates, researchers and families of crash victims — say the industry should do more, by placing overt warnings on the packaging and screens of cellphones.

Yes, you read that right. They want warning labels on cell phones. My guess is that we are about 4-5 years away from the Great Cell Phone Settlement, where Motorola, Nokia and others will funnel billions into American State treasuries, under the rationale of funding health care for accident victims. In the nanny state, there is only one adult.

Posted by Richard Anderson on December 15, 2009 | Permalink


When you have successfully made the world a safe place for morons, you have eliminated the Darwinism effect, eventually devolving into a world of morons.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2009-12-15 10:51:19 AM

There are a lot of studies that show emr to be a risk and others that show it not to be of little or no risk.

Some people may be more susceptible to cancer and others have stronger immune systems that can prevent or kill off cancers.

In other words, there is a lot of noise in the data and a lot of variability that still has to be captured in studies.

Were I the CEO of a company or a member of its board, I would want to manage my liability the best way I could because I do not want to pay out billions in lawsuits as the tobacco companies have had to do.

This is all about governments and industry managing risk and liability and public health.

Pooh poohing a warning label is a pretty superficial response to a complicated issue and one with a lot of nasty legal precedence.

My preference is for warning labels and then give me the freedom to make my own choice. What makes me mad is when government steps over the line and starts medicating me without giving me any choice in the matter. Examples are the forced medication of the public through water fluoridation, forced addition of dodgy additives to milk and other foods and so forth.

Posted by: snowgirl | 2009-12-15 11:33:16 AM

Snowgirl: Have a cellular telephone implanted in your head where it won't be noticed. Leave it on at all times. You are bound to get used to talking and listening on your implant whilst dealing with other activities. Plus, you'll have both hands free. Please note that other people, even today, are accustomed to beautiful young women walking on the street seemingly talking to themselves. It's almost as if they were talking to their boyfriends. [But never wear a cone-shaped aluminum cap or stay outdoors in a thunderstorm]

Posted by: Agha Ali Arkhan | 2009-12-15 4:08:19 PM

Agha, what the hell is your point other than you like fanatic-sizing about women?

I made a point about how I hate the government medicating the public and to provide information so that we are free to make our own choice.

And you respond with semen soaked nonsense.


Posted by: snowgirl | 2009-12-15 5:48:02 PM

Snogl: Implants are the latest fad. But you do not have to get one. It's your choice. [You write like some kind of guy]

Posted by: Agha Ali Arkhan | 2009-12-15 5:54:11 PM

You are not interested in intelligent debate. You only want to indulge in insults and stereotypes.


Here is an insult for you: You are a goof.

And here is a stereotype for you: You write like some kind of horny Muslim.

Go ahead, have the last word...

Posted by: snowgirl | 2009-12-15 6:13:05 PM

No insult intended. Please clean up your act. Children may be watching. Cellphones gave me a lump on my tummy where I wore it on my belt for ten years. I don't wear one now. You have the choice to ignore radio wave warnings, but many have died because they did ignore or were not aware. I really pity young girls who walk around with a cellphone stuck in their ear.

Posted by: Agha Ali Arkhan | 2009-12-15 6:24:29 PM

I think we should also be putting warnings on CD's and roadmaps. Perhaps the corporations producing those could also contribute to healthcare ...

Posted by: Charles | 2009-12-16 6:03:24 AM

Eventually the hands-free option will be legislated away also, as it does not solve most of the reason you are distracted.

I wouldn't count on the CellCOs to up the audio bandwidth per channel to solve this either as most don't seem to think that far ahead and said legislation will likely be passed before a rollout of
new tech occurs.
Hopefully I'm wrong

Posted by: Mafwoj | 2009-12-16 6:44:35 PM

I can hardly wait for the report on second hand cell phone use. I can still remember the debate on cassette tapes and how thousands would die because their attention would be diverted while driving. "Experts" predicted carnage on the roads. These same experts have probably changed causes. Activists never quit, they just change causes.

Posted by: peterj | 2009-12-17 11:01:14 PM

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