Video:Public Safety Mythswith Jonathon E. Stewart
Myths about public safety can be downright dangerous when rumors spread fast and far on the internet. Learn how to discern the truth about health issues on the web.See Transcript
Transcript:Public Safety MythsUrban myths can be fun to pass around, especially when the subject matter aims only to entertain. But myths about public safety can create unwarranted concerns and fears, and can potentially even serve to weaken public faith in truly important health issues. Fortunately, being able to spot the difference, is simple.
Cancer-causing water bottles, asbestos in tampons, gas station-exploding cell phones, candy-flavored crystal meth, and HIV needles just about anywhere you might look are just a few of the scary medical urban myths floating around to this day. This isn't to say there aren't some nasty things that do go down in industries such as food production or pharmaceuticals, for example. Mad cow disease, salmonella poisoning, bacterial contamination, and other atrocities do happen from time to time.
Make Sure Information Comes from a Trustworthy SourceWith the speed of information transfer on the internet, local groceries and pharmacies aren't always the first to let you know about actual recalls or temporary product bans. Reading statements by manufacturers, government agencies like the FDA or CDC, or articles by verified news sources are some of the best ways to obtain trustworthy information about product safety. And by verified news sources, I'm talking about the journalistic bastions whose reporting is still ruthlessly fact-checked and verified prior to publishing––entities more like the New York Times, say, not www.healthbeef.com.
Do Your Own Online Fact CheckingYou might also check sites like urbanlegends.about.com, which chronicles hoaxes and other netlore specific to health and medical issues. But regardless of how you do it, a little research is the key to stopping myths dead in their tracks. And I'm not saying you need to head down to the library and comb through hundreds of pages of microfiche, either. Thanks to this great new service called "Google," you can usually get to the bottom of these things in less time than it takes to say, "stop spreading paranoid rumors to all your friends and family."
If you happen to come across an issue that's not easily verifiable online, it's probably safest to heed whatever warning you've come across until further information is published by reliable sources.
As a friend of mine once said to me, if you're looking for something on the internet and you want it to be black, it'll be black. And, if you want it to be white, it'll be white. So stay vigilant, be smart, do your homework, and you'll never have to worry about falling victim to things like the Klingerman virus ever again.
I'm Jonathon Stewart with About.com.
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