Scary headlines about the increased risk of cancer always garner a lot of hits on news sites. This is especially so when that cancer could result from everyday foods, activities, or devices, and social media is a more than willing accomplice in furthering the dissemination of this nonsense.
But it really is worth pausing for a moment of consideration before diving in and being swayed by a sensational story. The reason is that it probably is just a sensational story. The claimed “dangers” of wireless devices is a prime example of this kind of misleading reporting and the associated urban myths that just never seem to die, despite long ago being debunked as false.
The news media has a strong incentive to sensationalise stories that attract many viewers or readers, because nowadays their profits are often based on advertising revenues on their sites that increase as the number of hits their websites receive go up.
This, along with several weaknesses in human psychology, are some of the main reasons that fake news is so effective, despite humankind’s current unprecedented access to information that could easily disprove some of the absurd myths we see repeated on a daily basis.
This is the case with all of the drivel from anti-vaxxers, and it is the same with the unproven claims of the dangers of wireless technologies – both were based on shonky, false opinions, and then widely reported on throughout the online media and social media as being fact.
The New York Times article and the Guardian article report on the issue from two totally different angles. Which one is subjective opinion selling sensational headlines, which one is objectively investigating the facts behind the claims? Can you tell? If more people took a moment to think about what they were liking, sharing or posting, perhaps there would be less ignorance in the world instead of more.