Sunday, September 9, 2018

Breaking News! A Cure for Baldness!

I have satellite radio in my car.  I listen to 2 or 3 stations.  I have a deluxe version of cable TV, giving me access to hundreds of channels.  I watch a handful of them.   There is no way, of course, that I could simply pay for the 7 stations I watch.   For example, if I want HBO so I can watch John Oliver’s uproarious Last Week Tonight on Sunday, I have to purchase some package of useless channels to secure my HBO spot.

I listen to CNN often in the car.  This network blares out ‘Breaking News’ every 5 minutes or so.  I wrote to them demanding an explanation for these idiotic announcements, but they couldn’t break away from the avalanche of breaking news to respond to me.  In times past, ‘Breaking News’ meant that the Germans surrendered, Truman beat Dewey or that Neil Armstrong planted his feet firmly on the lunar landscape. 

I also wrote twice to CNN asking how many minutes of commercials occupy Wolf Blitzer’s hour long ‘news’ show.   I got the same non-response as referenced above.  I’m sure I am now blacklisted there.   My guess is that the minutes of commercial time would shock us all.   I’m surprised that the network hasn’t started introducing the commercials with Wolf howling ‘Breaking News! New Floor Cleaner Wipes the Competition!’

So many commercials are devoted to health issues.  Many of them are for prescription drugs.  Interesting how the pharmaceutical companies are flooding the airwaves, internet and print hawking products to a public who cannot purchase them by themselves, as they might do with a TV set or a mattress.  They are coaxing the public to lean on their health care providers, aka doctors.  Enter the phrase:  ‘ask your doctor if Proctobomb is right for you.'


General Ambrose Burnside
Hair in All the Wrong Places

I heard a commercial today about some kind of laser device that could sprout hair on a bald and desolate scalp.  I was struck that the ad touted 93% significant hair growth from users.  I admit that I did not read the study, but I am skeptical that it would be characterized as rigorous scientific inquiry.  Moreover, I wonder who funded the study, or if the physician investigators  benefited by participating.  Once again, I am not leveling actual allegations of conflicts of interest, only that I am suspicious they exist when a commercial product is championed in a single study for an incurable condition..

I’ve read thousands of medical studies, and a 93% benefit is nearly unheard of in conventional medical reports.  Even treatments that are established and proven therapies rarely reach such a high bar.  Such a stratospheric level of performance should arouse skepticism that the study is misleading and deceptive.

Most of us who are follicularly-challenged would walk through a minefield for the promise of 93% significant hair growth.   Here’s the catch.  Who defines what significant hair growth is?  Recognize that as the definition of significant hair growth is relaxed that the success rate increases. For example, if  significant hair growth is defined as a few new limp saplings, then the company can boast a success that will not be visible to the customer or anyone gazing at his pate.

Think of how success rates in medical reports can be massaged to lure physicians and patients.  If a drug or device company announces  a huge success rate, make sure that what they are measuring really matters to you.  Just because they claim it’s Breaking News, doesn’t make it so.


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