Thursday, April 9, 2009

Reasons we shouldn't believe cyberpolls (and other breaking news)

We're all sick of hearing about "sexting" at this point, so I'll keep this short and sweet. The Wall Street Journal has an article today about the so-called "sexting epidemic" - and how it may not be an epidemic at all. This isn't surprising, but it's satisfying to see a major news outlet counter the statistic - which apparently was gathered through online polls. So it turns out that the kids who were asked may be self-selecting - the WSJ writes that "the same teenagers who have engaged in [sexting] could be the ones most likely to say they have done so in an online poll." So let's hope this teaches us a lesson about calling anything an "epidemic" and throwing eighth-graders in jail.

More news:

iPhone apps have gone too far. Now they're providing exoticized women for your viewing pleasure - through the Cute Asian Girls iPhone app. There are posts at Racialicious and The Harpyness if you want to read more - this is really appalling.

Tourists have been asked not to harass Kyoto's geishas. The NYT reports that geishas are often ambushed and surrounded for close-up pictures. "Sometimes, they say, the tourists block their way, pull their sleeves, and at times have even caused them to trip over." Apparently the tourists have even pulled geishas' hair. This is yet another example of the total inability of American tourists to behave themselves abroad - geishas seem foreign, so we don't have to treat them like people - they're just exotic prostitutes, right? Wrong. Geishas don't engage in sex with their clients, and even if they did, that doesn't excuse constant harassment.

The pap smear may soon be no more. A new DNA test for HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer, has proved to be much more effective than the traditional pap smear. The experts say that if this DNA test takes off, "women over 30 could drop annual Pap smears and instead have the DNA test just once every 3, 5 or even 10 years." Pap smears have been very effective in the past, so people may be reluctant to completely abandon them - but these DNA tests could be a great alternative in third-world countries, where pap smears are often ineffective.

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