Monday, June 27, 2005

Survey: Most Americans Depressingly Ignorant of Basic Science

Hey look! Americans don't know very much about cancer. This survey says so. Though I tend to think that surveys like these are about as interesting or useful as pit bull media hysteria, I trust the good people who design them to have selected a fairly accurate slice of American opinion. These people went to college to learn how to make surveys, after all.

The cutest part of the survey results:
The most prevalent misconception, 'Treating cancer with surgery can cause it to spread throughout the body,' was endorsed as true by 41 percent of the respondents.

No one entity is responsible for making our nation's goodly citizens not ignorant. I guess you could claim that public schools should feel obligated to inform students about the truths of cancer, but to an extent they already do that. Kids are already taught in health class that one's health is determined for the most part by one's lifestyle choices. Usually this precept is used to let children know that if they have sex before marriage then they will suffer the unavoidable consequences of gonorrhea and pregnancy. But sometimes the wild concept that actions=results is employed to taut the benefits of a good diet and excercize. See? Text books aren't all bad.

I'm of the opinion that the public will adopt whatever veiwpoint is most consistent with their preexisting beliefs and which places the least blame on themselves as individuals for any harm that befalls them. They will then reinterpret/misinterpret/twist scientific research to substantiate their ideas. By biggest complaint about the current American attitude toward cancer is that people think that the disease is mostly brought on by genetics. Genetics are this century's answer to witches/Jews/evil moon spirits/whatever it's trendy to blame stuff on at the moment. The most conservative studies I've read about say that four-fifths of cancer cases are preventable.

But, of course, ours is a culture of treatment rather than prevention. Such is the plight of a ridiculously wealthy nation of lazy people. So, though there is no conspiracy by drug companies to stifle research into the causes of cancer, there seems to be little commercially-funded vanture to educate the public about the very simple and easy ways individuals can prevent many types of cancer to begin with.

But I'm not a fancy scientist, so I can't expound with any more detail about this topic. Though I may not know what, beyond those lame-ass free-radicals, causes cancer, I do know this: Jesus loves vegans more than regular people.

And gambling in temples is carcinogous.


4/5 of cancer is preventable? Is that a serious study, or is that part of the funny?
Um, no. It's serious. Deadly serious, in fact. And it's not just one or two studies or conjectures by the scientific community. Pinning down hard data is hard, but Google "cancer" and "preventable" and see what you get. Every source I've seen that provides a specific number as to what percentage of cancer is preventable through lifestyle/environmental factors claims that 70-90% of cancer is your own damn fault or the fault of the nuclear power plant that you live under. Mind you, different types of cancers are caused by different things, and, for example, breast cancer and skin cancer shouldn't be compared. All the numbers I've read are meant to address cancer collectively.

Eat fruits, veggies, whole grains, and soy, and drink tea. Don't eat animals, refined sugars, or bleached flour. Don't smoke. Don't lick on that Carcinopop. How hard is that?
Well, I'm not seeing those studies, but whatever. Certain types of cancer are highly preventable. Certain types are not. A good diet isn't going to do a whole lot for cancers outside the colon.

What I wanted to see the studies for, actually, was because I was interested in how "preventable" was defined.
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