Friday, February 29, 2008

I recently discovered the STATS blog, which is devoted basically to taking news stories based on studies, and checking the methodology of said studies. Their current project is heaping well-deserved scorn on a three-part CBS series on "exploding pyrex" (due to thermal shock):
Chicago’s CBS affiliate has discovered the laws of physics, and the shocking news is that…um… glass can break....

In a segment blowing gale-force spin, CBS 2 tries to make out that a supposed spate of ‘exploding’ Pyrex dishes means that…um, glass bakeware isn’t safe....

Based on emergency room data for 2005, you had a 1 in 3,706, 338 chance in the United States of sustaining a non-fatal injury from glass bakeware that didn’t shatter from mechanical breakage (i.e., being dropped).... For 2006 all calculation is moot: there were no injuries recorded by emergency rooms participating in the CPSC database, so the risk, as best we know, was zero. All of which means, compared to other kitchen equipment, glass bakeware is pretty darn safe. Take blenders for example, based on 2006 data, you have 1 in 95,152 risk for a non-fatal injury. And they have moving blades.

But if glass bakeware is going to be a benchmark for risk... people should stay out of the kitchen altogether. And, in fact, to be super-duper safe, people should probably avoid watching local TV news too... because vastly more people injure themselves from television sets in the U.S. each year than from glass bakeware or blenders – in fact, based on 2006 data, you had a 1 in 5,613 chance of incurring a non-fatal injury from lifting, moving, and, believe it or not, watching TV.
Note to CBS: if there's no story there, you should just drop it, rather than trying to get something out of your "investigation" by hyping almost-nonexistent dangers.

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