We’re all doomed! (copyright, the Daily Mail)…

Just one hour listening to an MP3 player can damage hearing‘ shrieks the Daily Mail.

Cobblers, say I.

Look, this happens every generation – I have little doubt it happened when the Victrola came along. We had it in the sixties, with transistor radios and their single ear-piece. By the eighties, the doom-mongers, having lingered in clubs with their forecasts of music-induced deafness during the seventies, had moved on to the Sony Walkman. Yep, we were all going to go deaf.

Remarkably, here we are, 10 (or11), years into a new century, and we are not noticeably overwhelmed by hordes of deaf people.

This current nonsense – I’m sorry, but with a test population of a mere 49 people (or almost 60, as the Mail refers to it, when it’s really almost 50), this is NOT research, it’s just playing silly buggers – at Ghent University, Belgium (or, as the Mail calls it, Beligium – clearly no spell-checking on their computers), has concluded that mp3 players are going to make us all deaf.

Now I was a biker for much of my adult life and, these days bikers are exhorted to wear ear plugs because – yep, you’ve guessed – riding their bikes will make them deaf. However, I have excellent hearing, despite having also owned several trannies, a Walkman, and currently possessing three mp3 players.

This is stupidity on a massive scale. You cannot, ever, derive meaningful, statistically significant, results from such a tiny test population. It’s quite impossible. You need a hell of a lot more simply to conclude that it’s worth conducting some proper research.

However, mere facts like this never get in the way of a Daily Mail story, and you can see from the comments – apart from mine – that this has been swallowed whole by many people (OK, it’s the mail, they’re dumb buggers, but even so…).

So, here’s the thing. When you read reports of research, the first thing you need to check  is the size of the test population. That is, the total number of people involved as test subjects. To derive meaningful, statistically significant results needs a minimum of 1,000 people (this is why reputable market researchers will almost always tell you that they asked 1,001 people, or more).

Results from research using fewer subjects – possibly – suggest that proper research might yield something useful. The further you get below 1,000, the more useless the research becomes.

When you get down to 49 – hell, they use more than that to test sodding shampoo! – you might as well give up and all go down the pub. It’ll be at least as much use.

Just, whatever you do, don’t tell the Daily Mail.

Footnote: Yes, I know those of the retard persuasion have their mp3 players cranked up to insane levels, but it was the same with the Walkman and its clones. Deafness, on a massive scale, has failed to materialise.

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