Aug 05 2005

CBS News: Women Two Times More Likely To Experience Death!

100% likely to experience death: a little beetle wrapped alive in silk by an unidentified spider. Photographed August 4 2005 by Twisty in North South Austin

Well, I did it. I fell off the news wagon and read an article at CBSNews.com. In terms of sheer vacuity, this undertaking did not disappoint.

The article to which I allude,  “A Fitness First For Women,” contains no information whatsoever. It’s ostensibly about how the wonders of medical science have finally figured out, “exactly,” the relationship between exercise and fitness in women. But the CBS “medical correspondent” cites only one meaningless statistic, that certain women are “two times more likely to develop heart disease” and–no, I did not make this up–“two times more likely to experience death” than–well, it’s not clear who.

Thank god researchers are on the case and have solved the age-old mystery of  chicks shuffling off this mortal coil! So how much exercise do women need in order to live forever?

Ah. Well. The medical correspondent cannot say, because all the “charts” are designed around male metabolism, and besides, they’re “tricky.”

She adds comfortingly, for the benefit of those women for whom “tricky” will prove to be just too much, that “women probably don’t need to worry about that yet,” because “they”–by whom is meant The Vast Patriarchal Medical Establishment With Your Best Interests At Heart–“they need to reprogram a lot of these things to include charts that are appropriate for women.”

In other words, some people did a study, and they found out some shit you can’t understand, and it will be years before if affects your life, if it ever does. Or, more accurately, blah blah blah HEART ATTACK blah blah blah FITNESS blah blah blah DEATH.


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  1. Kyria

    Ooh, nice! You need to exercise at 85% of your heart capacity for your age, or you’ll have a heart attack and die. But the little charts at the gym are flat useless, because they’re calibrated for men, so don’t worry about it.

  2. stroll

    Your summary is succinct yet thorough. I think you should do this for all news.

  3. res publica

    It’s true. Women are two times more likely than robots to experience death.

  4. WookieMonster

    Hmmm…I wonder if it has something to do with women’s brains working even after they have clinically died, so they “experience” death as opposed to just dying?

    That’s the only circumstance I can think of where, “two times more likely to experience death” makes any sense whatsoever.

    How could an editor even print this piece of garbage story. “0% more enlightenment!”

  5. Steph

    Welcome to the world of health and medical reporting. Crap that it is (it’s actually my academic specialty–I’m obviously into self-torture).

    First of all, we’re all at a 100% risk of dying. And I frickin wish reporters would get that and stop with the more likely to die stats. I’m more likely to die than someone immortal…hmmm.

    And, why the hell does exercise have to be this mechanistic, follow guidelines and monitor ourselves constantly kind of endeavour. Why do I need charts and machines and tests. Why the fuck can’t I just ride my bike or take a walk or play or make out with Twisty instead?

  6. alphabitch

    I think if you want to make out with Twisty, you’ll have to stand in line with the rest of us, Steph.

    Seriously, though, I’ve been in and out of the medical/health care research writing & editing biz for the last twenty-some years. And I’ve been a reporter. It’s awful. I despair. Clarity is never as highly valued as one might like. I had several people ask me what that study was about today (including the gal who works at the gym, for godssakes). I’ve been trying to make sense of it all day. Kyra’s summary above is pretty much all there is to it. I like Twisty’s summary too, though I would amend it as follows: “Or, more accurately, blah blah blah HEART ATTACK blah blah blah FITNESS blah blah blah DEATH [blah blah blah GIRLS].

  7. ae

    Corporatist “news” hysteria: twice as likely to suck! And blow!

    All grrrls know The Man has nary a clue as to our delicate constitutions. And the Vast PMEWYBIAH can be forgiven for their limitations of knowledge. I mean, what to make of our wildly vacillating humours? Our propensity toward wandering uteruses and such? Can the medical establishment really be expected to diagnose such neurotic (untameable) wenches in the grips of their natural hysteria?

    Best that women not do math or leave the house unattended, because the hysteria could strike any minute! Women should stay at home learning the kiddies their lessons and preparing them to be grateful sacrifices to the rapacious Republic.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have exerted myself too much and am feeling feeble. Must lie down w/ another cursed attack of the vapors!

  8. Wordlackey

    It’s a pet peeve of mine that news stories rarely get statistics right. The more I poke at the figures in a news story, the more they seem to fall apart. Often if I go to the original source material I find the reporter has actually completely missed the point. Or they’ve taken an interesting group of numbers/facts out of context, leading to a false focus and conclusion. Or they compare figures that are not comparable. And the logical fallicies…

    Personally, I think it’s because of news deadlines and reporters not having time to properly comprehend and digest the facts. That, and trying to force facts into a predetermined narrative “hook”, perhaps suggested by their editor/producer.

    Hey, look at me! Can I get a gig as a PoMo Media Deconstructionist?! Does it pay? No? Oh, well, back to the blog.

  9. deja pseu

    Most news departments these days are what is known as “rip-n-read”, meaning that the wire service copy is pulled and read right off the wire service machine. Due to budget cutbacks, most news organizations have few resources for investigative journalism or even fact checking.

    Another problem is that most “medical” or “health” news presented is directly from news releases from PR firms with profit-motive agendas. So either the studies are sponsored by pharmaceutical, weight-loss or other for-profit industry groups, or legitimate studies are twisted and sensationalized. So when you see “Women With Intact Appendix Have Twice the Risk of Toenail Fungus!”, what it could be reflecting is a statistically insignificant 2 people out of 100,000 vs. 1 person out of 100,000.

  10. Anonymous

    But I’m half as likely to die! Why is this bad news?


  11. PrissyNot

    That would be logical FALLACIES, wordlackey, and what have statistics to do with our actual, real lives? I’m going to die. That means I don’t care what kind of a chance anyone else has of dying, it’s all the same. Any other stats I’ve ever come across have been equally meaningless. . . Can we go home now?

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