The FREAK-est Links

Play Warcraft, study pandemics. (Related.)

“Bueller? Bueller? Retirement?” (HT: Consumerist.)

Cell phones & driving not so dangerous after all? (HT: MR.)

In Denver, feeding the meter feeds the homeless. (Related.)

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  1. ZBicyclist says:

    Re “cell phones and driving”

    I’ve only read the abstract so far, not the full study, but I’m hearing echoes of the bicycle helmet research here.

    The early helmet studies — which, IIRC, used relative risk rates just as many of the early cell phone studies did — led to completely overblown estimates of helmet effects. [The most widely cited being the 85% reduction in head injuries.]

    Other studies based on natural experiments (e.g. areas in which mandatory helmet laws were adopted) showed basically nothing.

    So, we seem to have a divergence in results due to methodology between relative-risk type methods and natural experiments.

    To jump ahead, of course, there’s suspicion in the helmet literature that it has nothing to do with methodology and much more to do with publication pressure and funding pressure. The researchers who found cell phones were as bad as drunk driving got a lot of press for their efforts. How much would they have gotten for finding a nonsignificant effect? This can introduce subtle selection biases.

    Interestingly, one local cell phone company is touting their exclusive music arrangement with the rock group AC/DC, proving the opportunity for Levitt to study the influence of listening to AC/DC on your cell phone versus using a non-AC/DC phone.

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  2. ZBicyclist says:

    Re “cell phones and driving”

    I’ve only read the abstract so far, not the full study, but I’m hearing echoes of the bicycle helmet research here.

    The early helmet studies — which, IIRC, used relative risk rates just as many of the early cell phone studies did — led to completely overblown estimates of helmet effects. [The most widely cited being the 85% reduction in head injuries.]

    Other studies based on natural experiments (e.g. areas in which mandatory helmet laws were adopted) showed basically nothing.

    So, we seem to have a divergence in results due to methodology between relative-risk type methods and natural experiments.

    To jump ahead, of course, there’s suspicion in the helmet literature that it has nothing to do with methodology and much more to do with publication pressure and funding pressure. The researchers who found cell phones were as bad as drunk driving got a lot of press for their efforts. How much would they have gotten for finding a nonsignificant effect? This can introduce subtle selection biases.

    Interestingly, one local cell phone company is touting their exclusive music arrangement with the rock group AC/DC, proving the opportunity for Levitt to study the influence of listening to AC/DC on your cell phone versus using a non-AC/DC phone.

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  3. MIke says:

    And the RSS feed does not have links…

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  4. MIke says:

    And the RSS feed does not have links…

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  5. jroxz says:

    As far as studies in World of Warcraft are concerned, “Real World” pandemics don’t come from, “Gee I wonder what that is…” followed by subsequent infection.

    If you really would like to do a study why not the development of MMORPG Language… ie.

    Nerf (v.) to reduce ones abilities

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  6. jroxz says:

    As far as studies in World of Warcraft are concerned, “Real World” pandemics don’t come from, “Gee I wonder what that is…” followed by subsequent infection.

    If you really would like to do a study why not the development of MMORPG Language… ie.

    Nerf (v.) to reduce ones abilities

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  7. Kip says:

    @ZBicyclist

    There is also risk compensation factor that might be involved. Give people a helmet and they’ll be more reckless (such that they will take about the same amount of risk). Put someone on a cell phone and they tend to drive more cautiously (at least, I have noticed that I hardly ever change lanes while I’m on my cell phone).

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  8. Kip says:

    @ZBicyclist

    There is also risk compensation factor that might be involved. Give people a helmet and they’ll be more reckless (such that they will take about the same amount of risk). Put someone on a cell phone and they tend to drive more cautiously (at least, I have noticed that I hardly ever change lanes while I’m on my cell phone).

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