420,000 Danes can’t be wrong…

posted by Brendan Hodgson

… at least not when it comes to cell phones and the niggly concern that’s been floating around for years in the digital ether that every time you put one to your ear, you’re firing cancer-causing radio waves into your cranium.

But hallelujia, it seems our concerns have been for nought.

WASHINGTON — A huge study from Denmark offers the latest reassurance that cell phones don’t trigger cancer. Scientists tracked 420,000 Danish cell phone users, including 52,000 who had gabbed on the gadgets for 10 years or more, and some who started using them 21 years ago.

They matched phone records to the famed Danish Cancer Registry that records every citizen who gets the disease _ and reported Tuesday that cell-phone callers are no more likely than anyone else to suffer a range of cancer types. The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, is the largest yet to find no bad news about the safety of cell phones and the radiofrequency energy they emit.

And yet with 23,000+ blog references  to cell phones and cancer curdling away in their various corners of the blogosphere (granted not all are bad, and some are spam), what’s a company to do? As the old adage goes, and pardon the earthy simile … “taking something off the internet is like trying to take pee out of a pool.“… (and if someone knows who actually said this, pls let me know).

Short of unleashing the dogs of war (aka, the lawyers) at some ungodly hourly rate to track down and hurl the ubiquitous “cease and desist” letters at every instance of potentially slanderous commentary, I would suggest it’s virtually impossible. To make matters worse, it’s likely the increasing numbers of bloggers citing and re-citing questionable sources will only make the matter of credibility even worse.

So how do company’s – whose futures are linked to debates such as this – overcome the crushing stigma of a thousand digital lashes? 

In the end, trying to play whack-a-mole with every prospective critic – right or wrong - just won’t work. Nor is it right and proper – or even possible - to try and comment on every blog that cite’s questionable findings. 

Rather, this is where I believe companies must use the tools they have at their disposal (digital and otherwise, including social media), to elevate their side of the story, to create a community of advocates, to reinforce their messaging with the most credible information possible, and seek out the sources of erroneous information (the dated and questionable studies) rather than the channels (the blogs themselves) in order to engage them in a dialog based on the latest findings. And this is where traditional forms of PR are still required – to elevate the discussion, to raise awareness, and to drive changes in perception based on credible third-parties.

Because in the end, it seems too much of what we read is all sound and fury, signifying nothing.

2 Comments
08

Dec
2006

Dan

Perhaps it is these critics of such debates, who lash without context anymore, that should be worried?

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more: it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

Thank God for the Danes.

08

Dec
2006

James Barbour

"Because in the end, it seems too much of what we read is all sound and fury, signifying nothing"

And therein lies one of the fundamental dangers both of blogging but, more to the point, of reading blogs.

23,000+ blog references, but how many similiar references from accountable, credible, mainstream publications?  Alas too many bloggers don’t realise the responsibility of what they’re taking on.

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