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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Four Myths About Helmets and Safety - Commute by Bike

1. “There’s No Scientific Data Indicating Helmets Reduce Risk of Injury.”
This is your brain on myths (via TreeHugger)Actually, there is. But the data is fairly thin, and anti-helmet forces have seized on this, arguing that the paucity of scientific evidence indicates that helmets must not really do any good. But this argument suffers from the negative proof fallacy–the implication that because the efficacy of helmets has not been conclusively proven via scientific studies, helmets must be valueless. But consider how many propositions we accept as true in the absence of any scientific studies proving them so. For example, I don’t know of any studies proving that ritualistically slamming my head into the door jamb on the way out every morning leads to a greater incidence of brain injury. But I needn’t make such demands on empiricism. I know it’s bad a idea, and I don’t need a study to tell me that. It’s hardly less intuitive that wrapping one’s melon in a layer of foam padding will help reduce the severity of cycling head injuries. Why–particularly given the obvious difficulties of getting enough scientifically and statistically credible data to prove or disprove the real world benefit of helmets–should we demand absolute scientific proof before admitting that wearing a helmet is a risk-minimizing choice?
Still not convinced? Try a simple thought experiment: You’ve just been doored. As you fly over the handlebars, would you rather be wearing a helmet or not?


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