The media has a lot of power.
The power to inform, the power to motivate, the power to influence.
But it seems as if the media also has the power, at times, to perpetuate urban myths. Myths like large alligators living in city sewers, that carpeted floors are unhealthy and cause asthma, that weight loss can never be permanent.
That became apparent to me recently when I read an opinion piece written by David H. Freeman called “Survival of the Wrongest,” an article which debunks another article that was printed in The New York Times Magazine about the “unsustainability” of permanent weight loss.
Apparently, health writer Tara Parker-Pope’s research, printed in The New York Times Magazine, on whether significant weight loss can become permanent suggested to her that, no, “maintaining weight loss is a nearly impossible task.”
Parker-Pope presented scientific evidence that implied that only “rare individuals” can achieve weight loss for an extended amount of time and that the science shows that the “human body continues to fight against weight loss long after dieting has stopped.”
She definitely cited experts, including highly credentialed researchers, whose arguments led her to conclude that the “sobering reality” is that “once we become fat, most of us, despite our best efforts, will probably stay fat.”
Freeman took issue with her “findings,” arguing that “many, if not most, researchers and experts who work closely with the overweight and obese would pronounce its main thesis ... dead wrong, and misleading in a way that could seriously, if indirectly, damage the health of millions of people.”
Freeman concluded that Parker-Pope’s “conclusions” were biased, that those who have been successful at permanent weight loss “can’t all be freaks of biology,” and that her article was filled with “major omissions and flaws.”
In the carpet industry, we have been the victim of our own share of myths surrounding the “health” aspects of carpet — myths that often get bandied around by the press and which often result in a mania of undeserved panic among consumers.
One of those myths has been that carpet causes asthma and leads to other respiratory ailments, including allergies.
This myth, probably best referred to as an “urban myth,” circulated widely during the last decade, contributing to carpet losing market share and leading to a persistent myth that carpet contributes to unhealthy indoor air quality.
This type of myth is hard to dispel once it gets entrenched in the collected zeitgeist of popular culture, junk science and the media.
Probably the best way to combat these types of urban myths is with good science. A few years ago, toxicologist Mitch Sauerhoff wrote an article called “Carpet, Asthma and Allergies — Myth or Reality.” In the article, Sauerhoff concludes that the negative perceptions and persistent, long-held beliefs on carpets’ alleged negative characteristics are “not consistent with current research.”
Drawing his conclusions on more than 23 scientific studies, Sauerhoff states, “Based on the available science, carpet does not cause asthma or allergies and does not increase the incidence or severity of asthma or allergies symptoms. In fact, multiple studies have reported few allergy and asthma symptoms associated with carpet.”
Sauerhoff ended his article with an observation that “For more than 50 years, millions of consumers have enjoyed the benefits of carpet. Billions of square yards of carpet have been installed in the vast majority of United States’ homes and office buildings, with very few health-related complaints.”
I agree with his findings completely, for many reasons, but maybe most so “anecdotally,” based upon the lack of health-related claims or complaints coming to us at the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI).
But once a myth gets circulated out there, it can be as hard to get rid of as pulling an alligator out of the toilet — and you can imagine how hard that can be.
Still, you have to try, and at CRI we’ve got our sleeves rolled up, and we’re pulling as hard as we can.
Werner Braun is president of the Dalton-based Carpet and Rug Institute.
The media has a lot of power.
- Local News
Fired bus driver tells her side of the story
She says they made fun of her age.
She says they ridiculed her voice.
She says they parroted her.
She says some even cursed her.
Bagley quiz bowl wins state championship; invited to nationals
Nineteen members of the Bagley Middle School Junior Beta Club attended the 2013 Georgia Junior Beta Convention in Macon where the Quiz Bowl team won first place in Division II. Two other Bagley students won individual contests to also be invited to national competition.
Ukraine sees largest anti-govt protest since 2004
Angry anti-government protesters toppled a statue of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin in the center of Kiev on Sunday and blockaded key government buildings amid huge street protests, raising the stakes in an escalating standoff with President Viktor Yanukovych.
- A Murray Christmas
Memories still run deep 10 years later
Grown men stood at his gravestone and cried.
They were soldiers, all of them together, and 10 years after their friend and comrade died from injuries caused by an improvised explosive device just months short of his last tour in Iraq, the men came from hundreds of miles away to surround Spc. Marshall Edgerton’s widow and two children and honor the man they knew.
A taxing question
Whitfield County recently bought its first new fire truck in six years.
Public hearing on Whitfield budget Monday
Whitfield County can’t keep reaching into its bag of budget tricks much longer, Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Babb said.
Reception for outgoing school board members set for Monday
Dalton Public Schools staff and members of the Dalton Board of Education will honor outgoing board members Mark Orr and Steve Williams at a reception before the regular board meeting on Monday at 6 p.m. at City Hall. A brief ceremony will begin at 6:15 p.m. to highlight their contributions and years of service to the students and staff of Dalton Public Schools. The meeting is schedule for 6:30 p.m.
Patricia Anna Patton Rivers: Emery Center vital to our legacy
This letter is in response to a Letter to the Editor by Mr. Paul A. Tipton, “Good Intentions Are Not Enough.”
‘WuMo’ joins comics lineup
Beginning today, The Daily Citizen is carrying a new comic strip with an odd name: “WuMo.”
- More Local News Headlines
- Fired bus driver tells her side of the story