Thursday, October 1, 2009

Find steady work in the denial industry! Many openings still available.

For years, there have been studies linking athletic activities that increase the risk of concussion to memory loss and dementia. The most common sport that falls into this category in the United States is football. The National Football League has dismissed these findings consistently and said they would do a study of their own.

According to The New York Times, that study has now been released. The results are not good for football. One of the most damning claims is that the rate of dementia in men under 50 is nineteen times higher for former NFL players than it is for the general public.

The NFL is criticizing the report it paid for. The work wasn't peer reviewed. There may have been discrepancies in the way the data was collected.

Gosh, could the NFL have intentionally paid for a weakly researched study, knowing the numbers were going to be bad and therefore having a way to undercut them when the report was finally published?

Hypothetical question asker, sometimes you are very cynical. But cynicism wouldn't be a popular attitude if it didn't produce correct results so often.

Here are the paragraphs from the article that gave me a nasty feeling of deja vu.

An N.F.L. spokesman, Greg Aiello, said in an e-mail message that the study did not formally diagnose dementia, that it was subject to shortcomings of telephone surveys and that “there are thousands of retired players who do not have memory problems.”

“Memory disorders affect many people who never played football or other sports,” Mr. Aiello said. “We are trying to understand it as it relates to our retired players.”

Thanks for playing, Mr. Aiello. We'll let you know if you win the Scumbag of the Week award. Be advised, the competition is stiff.

A lot of people who drive drunk get home safely. A lot of traffic accidents happen without anyone involved being under the influence. This does not mean that driving under the influence does not change the odds of an accident dramatically.

The people from the denial industry all sound sickeningly the same. A lot of the techniques were developed and honed by the tobacco industry, who denied, dismissed and deflected claims against their product for generations when all the facts were against them. While the cases against other malefactors aren't as cut and dried as the case against tobacco, we see the same strategies employed by the defenders of petroleum companies denying any man-made cause to global warming, or the food industry denying any connection between their products and the increases in American obesity over the past few decades. Likewise, the American health industry is completely blameless when the United States is compared to all other industrialized nations and has higher rates of infant mortality and a shorter average life expectancy.

In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore made a quote of Upton Sinclair's popular for a new generation. "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

To reiterate, sometimes we resort to cynicism here at Lotsa 'Splainin' 2 Do. In our defense, it has a hell of a track record.

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