Sunday, December 18, 2011

On cell phone bans

I found these two almost-unrelated links on Instapundit.  Here's the first:

First, regulating cellphone use is not a federal responsibility, even on federal roads. This is not an issue that Washington has the authority to address.

Second, there’s no compelling reason for it. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 3,092 traffic deaths last year involved distracted drivers. But using a cell phone is only one of many driver distractions. Eating and drinking while behind the wheel are two others, and they are far more dangerous than yapping on a phone.

In fact, a 2009 NHTSA study found that 80% of all car wrecks are caused by drivers eating or drinking — not cellphone use — with coffee-guzzling the top offender.

Then there’s this. According to federal data, traffic deaths have fallen from 2.1 per 100 million vehicle miles in 1990, when virtually no one had a cellphone, to 1.1 in 2009, when almost everyone does.

Here's the second link, a piece of greatness from Frank J. Fleming:

The National Transportation Safety Board wants a complete ban on cellphone use while driving, even on hands-free calls. Some will protest this as yet another government encroachment on freedom, but we should think twice before rocking the boat here.

After all, have you considered how lucky we are that the government lets us drive cars at all?

Imagine if cars hadn’t been around for a century, but instead were just invented today. Is there any way they’d be approved for individual use? It’s an era of bans on incandescent bulbs; if you suggested putting millions of internal-combustion engines out there, you’d get looks like you were Hitler proposing the Final Solution.

Even aside from pollution, the government wouldn’t allow the risks to safety. . . . Driving is basically a grandfathered freedom from back when people cared less about pollution and danger and valued progress and liberty over safety. They had different equations related to human life then: We could lose 10,000 men in a single battle in a war and call it a victory.

We’re talking foolhardy people who eventually sent men to the moon strapped to a giant rocket that had less computational power than it takes to calculate the trajectory of an Angry Bird. Their kids dangled from jungle gyms over pavement.

Face it: We’re just not those people anymore. We don’t do dangerous things where lots of people could be hurt . . . even if they’re really cool and fun ideas. You can say we value human life more now, but it’s probably more apt to say we’re much sissier.


The picture of the O.S.H.A. Cowboy came from here. 







22 comments:

CenTexTim said...

Here's another visual aid for this post.

http://www.gocomics.com/henrypayne/2011/12/17

Cedric Katesby said...

I found these two almost-unrelated links on Instapundit.

Did it occur to you to fact-check?

Does it EVER occur to you to fact-check? Must you always just naively cut-and-paste from the first source that tells you what you want to hear?

It's great that Instapundit is helping you understand about the dangers of cell-phones (???) but...would it really kill you to find out for yourself?
There's no need to be dependent on a blog and subject yourself to hearsay.
There are better sources of information out there.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says...

If you are interested in what the NHTSA has to say on the subject of cell phones then go to them directly. Don't rely on hearsay evidence. Go direct to the source.
In fact, how about using (gasp) several, independent sources before you make up your mind on something?
Be a skeptic.

CenTexTim said...

Cell phones cause global warming.

NASA says so...

Cedric Katesby said...

Don't you see what's happened?
There is a pattern.

Allen is used a dangerously flawed methodology.
He does no fact checking.
None.
He has cut-and-pasted from some blog without taking even a little bit of time to verify.

Instead of going to primary sources, he's relying completely on second-hand information.

That's not what a skeptic is supposed to do.
It's not enough to just call yourself a skeptic- you have to earn the title and follow a skeptical methodology.

Stephen M. Smith said...

I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, but here goes:
NTSB fact sheet referencing 3,092 deaths.

NHTSA announcement of declining fatalities.

NHTSA attitude survey listing cell phones as 4th in list of driving distractions.

Nick Rowe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cedric Katesby said...

I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, but here goes:

Wow.
Somebody took a look for themselves. That's a very rare event around here.
People usually can't be bothered to do such terribly hard work.
Thank you for taking the time.

Does the information you found match up with the Instapundit spin on things?
Do they represent the NHTSA fairly?
Read the Instapundit fine print again. Take it word for word.

Now go back to the NHTSA.
Spot the difference.


There's primary sources of information and then there's secondary sources of information.

Why let someone else tell you what the NHTSA says when you can (shrug) go to them directly for yourself?
There's no need to rely on blogs at all.

If you can adopt a skeptical methodology for one scientific topic then you can do it for...others.

CenTexTim said...

Nick is right. The initial point of Allen's post is that the federal government does not have the authority to regulate cell phone use by drivers. Quibbling about numbers and sources is focusing on the trees while ignoring the forest.

Allen's second point (or rather, Frank Fleming's point) is that legislation and regulation have so constrained us as a society that they have sapped something fundamental, some core striving or vitality, that once made it possible for us to dare greatly, and on occasion fail greatly. We are now a safer, but lesser, people.

Cedric Katesby said...

Quibbling about numbers and sources is focusing on the trees while ignoring the forest.

So asking people to fact check and go directly to the NHTSA for themselves as opposed to just meekly taking some blog on faith is "quibbling"?
Wow.
That's one hot potato that got dropped with unseemly haste.

The initial point (..) Allen's second point...

I'm sure Allen can make any point he wants using primary sources that are fully fact-checked and properly sourced and avoid dodgy blogs altogether.
People do it all the time.

Nick Rowe said...

I wonder what NASA has to say on the subject.

Cedric Katesby said...

I doubt it.
;)

But seriously folks...

If a no-name blog run by a possible halfwit tells tells you about what "X" has to say on a certain subject about fussy old things like numbers and sources and facts, then what exactly is the problem with going directly to "X" and skipping the middlemen entirely?

Why this wierd aversion to fact-checking for yourself?
Paranoia can only take you so far before you reach the point of the absurd.
NHTSA has it's very own official website written in plain English for the general public to understand.
Oddly enough, NASA has one too!

You don't have to blindly accept only single, solitary secondary sources.
It's ok to go a little crazy and use...(gulp)...primary sources of information.
Heck, go hog wild and use MULTIPLE, independent primary sources and compare them. Feel free.
It works really well.

I know its a lot to ask and people around here are confounded and spooked by such an alien concept but...there's nothing very "religious" or "leftist" about it at all.

(Of course, it does have this habit of eviscerating crankdom every single time. Yet I see that as a good thing.)

CenTexTim said...

Geez, Cedric, I've tried to be tolerant, but you consistently miss the point.

In this case IT HAS NOTHING TO DO with fact checking. It has everything to do with the role of the government in controlling the actions and behavior of citizens.

That is NOT a matter of fact checking and proper sourcing. It concerns one's philosophical perspective on the extent to which government can interfer with the private lives of people. If you fail to see that then we have no common platform for communication.

Cedric Katesby said...

In this case IT HAS NOTHING TO DO with fact checking.

Allen cut-and pasted from some blog.
Right?

That blog "enlisted" the help of the NHTSA.
Right?

It threw out some numbers and facts in support of it's position.
You trustingly swallowed them in one gulp.
Right?

Feel free to tell me that you didn't.
Feel free to tell me that you independently verified what Instapundit had to say about the NHTSA.
Please do.
In fact, give details how you were a genuine skeptic and found out the truth. Show your methodology.

(Or is such basic verification not something you usually do? Perhaps you alwasy regard it as mere "quibbling")

It concerns one's philosophical perspective on the extent to which government can interfer with the private lives of people.

Ah philosophy. Sweet philosophy.

That is NOT a matter of fact checking and proper sourcing.

It's entirely possible for reasonable people to walk and chew gum at the same time.
One can expound on philosophical perspective AND fact check and proper source...at the same time.

They are not mutually exclusive.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Gentlemen, gentlemen, gentlemen,...

The point of this little exercise was to point out a small group of government employees who want to increase their power, control, and funding by creating and then exploiting a panic over something.
The cell phones work nicely for their purposes, but aren't required. If they thought it would work, they would create a panic (and legislation) over crying babies, food, radios, or ill-fitting footwear.
Cedric, there's no point in going to primary sources when they're bullshit.

Cedric Katesby said...

Cedric, there's no point in going to primary sources when they're bullshit.

But of course.
Creationists and cranks of all shapes and sizes say the same thing.

Primary sources are not your friends.
Blogs and newspapers, on the other hand, get a free pass. Where would you be without them?
You are being led by the nose.

You cut-and-pasted from a blog.
You did no fact-checking whatsoever. It never occured to you to skip the middlemen. This is hardly the first time for you.

If you want to call yourself a skeptic then you should start acting like one.

Nick Rowe said...

I seem to recall Calvin linking to a YouTube video about so-called Sovereign Citizens, the most vile blackguards to roam the highways and biways of our great Republic. This "primary source" was supposed to make us tremble in fear for our lives and freedom.

Heh heh. You thought we forgot about that, didn't you Calvin?

Too EZ.

I think I will go look at NASA's blog for a while.

I'm glad i don't live in a country where all my "primary sources" are government controlled like North Korea. I'm glad I'm not stupid enough to believe all the garbage my government feeds me, as if no one in government ever lies or is mistaken or has biases.

Cedric Katesby said...

Heh heh. You thought we forgot about that, didn't you Calvin?

No, I didn't.
You are wrong yet again.

I'm glad i don't live in a country where all my "primary sources" are government controlled like North Korea.

If your primary sources are not all government controlled then why don't you ever use any of them?
What is wrong with you?

If somebody on a blog enlists the aid of a government agency and tells you what that agency says...then what's the problem with skipping the middlemen entirely and going to original source material yourself?

Why are you lazy? Why are you not prepared to think for yourself and use multiple, primary sources of information?

Reality is not your friend.
That is why your fall back position is paranoid conspiracy theories.
The biologists are all lying to you.
NASA and every single scientific community on the planet are all lying to you.
And now the NHTSA is lying to you.
You are surrounded by "them".

Nick Rowe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cedric Katesby said...

As I explained, I work for the government.

I don't care.
Work for whoever you want.

I am quite proficient at going to what you call the "primary source."

Strawman.
I never said this.

Stop listening to the voices in your head and focus on reality.

I said that if you are interested in what the NHTSA has to say on cell phones then you should go to them directly.
There's no need to get your information second-hand.
You have to fact-check.

That's it.
All the froth and nonsense comes from you.

You have already dismissed the criticism because the source doesn't accept the conclusion you have chewed, swallowed, and digested. You are uncritical.

Why do you lie?
I don't care about the conclusions.
I care about the methodology.
I've patiently explained this to you many times.

Nick Rowe said...

Why come you got no tattoo?

Nick Rowe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cedric Katesby said...

"I am quite proficient at going to what you call the "primary source."

Strawman. I never said this.

I asked you why are you lazy. I asked you why are you not prepared to think for yourself and use multiple, primary sources of information?

Read simple English.
Spot the difference.
All you have to do is scroll up to see what I actually said.
Duh!

I seem to recall that it was both the methodology and the conclusions that are at issue here.

This is why I feel sorry for you.
All you have to do is read what I wrote and then quote it. Instead you rely on your faulty recall and make pitiful mistakes.
It's not that hard.

There is no need to trust a blog.
It's ok to fact-check.
If you are interested in what the NHTSA has to say on the subject of cell phones (for example) then go to them directly. Don't rely on hearsay evidence. Go direct to the source.

You have to have a skeptical methodology otherwise you will be led by the nose.