Mobile Phones, popcorn and pregnancy

What is it with mobile phones that appears to cause people to simply stop thinking … OK, try this … first take a look at the following …

Wow … shocking … mobile phones can pop popcorn … scary yes … except its a fake. This is actually a viral ad that was created to sell bluetooth headsets for mobile phones.

The really scary part is that this is still knocking about. I had somebody … that’s a highly intelligent somebody (whom I shall not name to save his blushes) explain to me in great detail the dangers involved in using mobile phones and cited this as an example.

So lets be 100% clear now … its a hoax, you cannot pop popcorn using mobile phones. OK, so how did they do this? Curious, if so, then here is how its done, and please do not try this at home … no really don’t …

So why am I ranting on about this? Well basically because you don’t need to be a scientist to figure any of this stuff out, you can quickly get to the real truth. Curious as to how? Easy, Google is your friend. Whenever you are faced with some apparent bit of science or woo, just search for it and see what comes back. Its often quite productive to suffix your search with additional words such as, “hoax”, “scam” or “skeptic” to see if that yields additional insights. Also, beyond google, sites such as can also often help (Snopes is a site that specialises in Urban Legends … that’s the stuff we all believe to be true but is usually not)

Now, since I’m on the topic of Mobile Phones, the Mathematician Matt Parker has written a piece in the Guardian today where he explains why he issued a hoax press release linking the number of mobile phone masts to births. He starts off with …

…there are no known processes whereby mobile phone radiation could impact anyone’s health.

OK, got that … so when faced with any mobile phone related concerns, remember this. He then goes on to explain why we get these scare stories … its quite interesting …

… wrote in the Guardian about the strong correlation between the number of mobile phone masts and the number of births in the same area. I immediately explained that this was only a correlation based on the fact that both transmitter tower numbers and births are dependent on population size, and so the figures change in unison as a population changes …

… people are willing to jump to a specious correlation-based conclusion; I merely needed to scroll down to the comments beneath my article. There were the expected people who clearly did not actually read what I wrote before seeing the headline and getting excited about this apparent scare story, but there were also seemingly endless comments from people who understood my correlation-causality project but could not help putting forward a possible causal link anyway. It is such a hard-wired instinct to assume there must be causality at play

Its an interesting read, I recommend it … click here to read it all.

Of course, the truth is that the folks who really need to understand the difference between correlation and actual causality are the Daily Mail Journalists who appear to have more than their fair share of scarce stories these days. (Guys, seriously, if you are reading this … go to the Science Media Centre here … these folks who will help you keep the science on the right tracks in the headlines … OK).

As for the belief that Mobile Phones will harm you … be skeptical.

1 thought on “Mobile Phones, popcorn and pregnancy”

  1. Cool webpage. This is definitely better than the others I have recently viewed covering this. The page layout is simple yet effective, I think I am going to borrow this. Just kidding…Cheers, Mate!


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