"Denialism" and cycle helmets

This sub-forum all discussions about this "lively" subject. All topics that are substantially about helmets will be moved here, if not placed here correctly in the first place.
drossall
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Re: "Denialism" and cycle helmets

Postby drossall » 11 Aug 2018, 7:42am

Should we be concerned that some of us are much less like point masses than are others?

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: "Denialism" and cycle helmets

Postby [XAP]Bob » 11 Aug 2018, 8:44am

drossall wrote:Should we be concerned that some of us are much less like point masses than are others?


Yes, the other thing to be concerned about is that helmets are only tested on decapitated heads...
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
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Cunobelin
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Re: "Denialism" and cycle helmets

Postby Cunobelin » 11 Aug 2018, 9:42am

[XAP]Bob wrote:
drossall wrote:Should we be concerned that some of us are much less like point masses than are others?


Yes, the other thing to be concerned about is that helmets are only tested on decapitated heads...

.... and held in place by yards of masking tape

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Re: "Denialism" and cycle helmets

Postby Mick F » 11 Aug 2018, 9:52am

Remember my drop-testing a helmet?

I put a bag of wet sand in it, and then dropped it repeatedly from head-height onto a solid concrete path.
I lasted longer than I expected, and failed through the polystyrene cracking after the third drop.

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Paulatic
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Re: "Denialism" and cycle helmets

Postby Paulatic » 25 Oct 2018, 10:08pm

Ive just read from "a horses mouth"
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[XAP]Bob
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Re: "Denialism" and cycle helmets

Postby [XAP]Bob » 25 Oct 2018, 10:11pm

A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

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meic
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Re: "Denialism" and cycle helmets

Postby meic » 26 Oct 2018, 8:32am

The man is a lawyer. I got suspicious about his technical abilities when he wrote.
You received some benefit from the helmet cracking. That dissipated the force a little. If the helmet does not crack, the benefit is solely the padding. Most helmets have very little real padding. And nothing really to stop the brain from rocking inside your skull

If you want to take your technical and medical advice from a lawyer who clearly hasnt even yet "got" how energy is absorbed by a helmet, go ahead.
Or just take what he says as a good description of the legalities of helmet claims.
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Re: "Denialism" and cycle helmets

Postby pwa » 26 Oct 2018, 8:42am

Given that the man is talking specifically about concussion, it does not surprise me in the least that he thinks cycle helmets are of little use for that. I never thought they would be. If he had said they offered no meaningful protection against a fractured skull, that would have been newsworthy.

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: "Denialism" and cycle helmets

Postby [XAP]Bob » 26 Oct 2018, 1:11pm

Given the force required to fracture a skull... the protection it offers would be in a very limited range indeed.
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

Flinders
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Re: "Denialism" and cycle helmets

Postby Flinders » 26 Oct 2018, 2:37pm

[XAP]Bob wrote:Given the force required to fracture a skull... the protection it offers would be in a very limited range indeed.

That makes no sense at all. It depends on where your skull is hit, as some parts of skulls are a lot thinner than others, and some people have thicker skulls than others, and there will always be some level of force for any given section of a given skull where the helmet makes the difference between a cracked skull and a skull that stays intact. A member of my family got a fractured skull just from a swing door swinging back on him - he nearly died. AFAIK he didn't even have a specially thin skull, either, as some people do.

I'm aware that my helmet will not help significantly if my head gets a direct hit from an oncoming truck doing 60mph, but it may well make the difference between brain damage or not if I end up falling off and hitting my head on a kerb. Because something doesn't work in all cases, it doesn't follow that it can't help in any. Which is why I wear one. But I wouldn't make it compulsory for other people, as so far there isn't the sort of evidence there was in favour of biking helmets or seatbelts, but I suspect that's partly because so many cycling helmets don't meet the best standards they could do. Unfortunately there is a significant amount of active resistance to better helmet design and legals standards for helmets from those who don't want to wear them. That's tough on those of us that do want to wear them.

The horse-riding community has a far more accepting view of helmets, which is surprising in a lot of ways, given the demographic and risk factors involved. That means that good design is encouraged, and standards have risen a lot over time.

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Re: "Denialism" and cycle helmets

Postby bovlomov » 26 Oct 2018, 3:18pm

Flinders wrote:Unfortunately there is a significant amount of active resistance to better helmet design and legals standards for helmets from those who don't want to wear them. That's tough on those of us that do want to wear them.

Sorry, I don't get this. What active resistance? How is it my fault that your cycle helmet is rubbish?

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Re: "Denialism" and cycle helmets

Postby pjclinch » 26 Oct 2018, 5:42pm

Flinders wrote:
[XAP]Bob wrote:Given the force required to fracture a skull... the protection it offers would be in a very limited range indeed.

I'm aware that my helmet will not help significantly if my head gets a direct hit from an oncoming truck doing 60mph, but it may well make the difference between brain damage or not if I end up falling off and hitting my head on a kerb. Because something doesn't work in all cases, it doesn't follow that it can't help in any. Which is why I wear one. But I wouldn't make it compulsory for other people, as so far there isn't the sort of evidence there was in favour of biking helmets or seatbelts, but I suspect that's partly because so many cycling helmets don't meet the best standards they could do.


We can be pretty sure that if you're in a car crash you will be far more likely to come out better with a seatbelt on than with it off. But it turns out that it's a bit more complicated than that because you need to account for the chance of being in an accident to start with, and you are recommended to read John Adams' "Risk" to find out more. The only country that reported a fall in casualty rates after enforcing seat belt wearing was the UK, but that was coincident with evidential breath testing getting far stricter. If you look at the times of day breakdown for the casualty savings that year they correlate pretty well to chucking-out time at the pubs...

Flinders wrote:Unfortunately there is a significant amount of active resistance to better helmet design and legals standards for helmets from those who don't want to wear them. That's tough on those of us that do want to wear them.


As bovlomov wondered, so do I. What is this resistance? People that don't want to wear helmets for e.g. trundling toe nearest shop for a paper and a pint of milk will typically be quite happy to use them if they're e.g. going mountain biking and pushing themselves in a way where falling off has become entirely likely. The problem is not resistance from anti-helmet zealots like, presumably, me, but the market for helmets. Helmets are primarily sold on things like comfort and venting so they're built down to standards so they can be lighter and have more holes. This isn't the fault of people that don't use them, it's an active preference of a lot of people that do.

Flinders wrote:The horse-riding community has a far more accepting view of helmets, which is surprising in a lot of ways, given the demographic and risk factors involved. That means that good design is encouraged, and standards have risen a lot over time.


The spec of a cycling helmet is such that the vertical component of the fall (i.e., the one that will be completely and most often constrained by the ground) will have generated a velocity of around 12 mph. Falling off a horse involves more fall, so the rider will accelertae more on their way down and typically hit harder. So you'll want a more effective helmet. That the horse is doing most of the work makes this fairly easy to achieve without too much of a comfort hit, although these days nobody much rides horses for reasons of convenience and transportational efficiency so comfort not a big issue, but millions of people use bikes for convenience. Consequently, that's millions of people who will feel that riding their bike should be as uncontrived and convenient as driving their car, and that means no special clothes and crash helmets, even though almost half of all serious head injuries happen in car crashes (where surely a helmet could have made a useful difference in some cases).

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StephenW
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Re: "Denialism" and cycle helmets

Postby StephenW » 27 Oct 2018, 2:12pm

Hello all.

Helmet debates usually seem to produce more heat than light, but I found this debate quite enlightening!

Going back to Horizon's original post, I read the long Guardian article. Whilst it was interesting at points, I disagree with the author's main argument, and thought it was a bit daft on some points.

As I understood it, three of the main points to the author's argument are:

1. Having a decent and civilised society depends on people "being in denial". This seems to mean deceiving oneself about ones baser desires, pretending that they do not exist.
2. The phenomenon of "denialism" is in some way an extension of this, made collective and public. "Denialism" seems to mean disagreeing with the orthodox view on certain important issues.
3. "Denialism" is bad, and should be combated in some way.

I disagree with each of these points:

1. Having a decent and civilised society depends on people denying themselves, which is something quite different. This means knowing very well that you would like to do something, but choosing not to, because it would be unkind. No deception is needed.
2. Unorthodox views and conspiracy theories have nothing to do with this. One reason why people like conspiracy theories etc is that there is a pleasant feeling of being part of a small elite who know what's really going on, whilst everyone else plods around with no clue.
3. Unorthodox views are only a problem if they cause people to act in a way that is harmful to others. For instance, I don't think flat-earthers do any harm. (I mean, it's a bonkers idea, but I don't think it's harmful).

Brucey's comment got me thinking about the problem of excessive doubt or skepticism ("There is no such thing as a fact."), and excessive certainty ("Everyone knows that's wrong. I'm not even going to listen to your argument."). Both seem to be pretty unhelpful. Are they opposites, or are they in some way connected?

Horizon wrote:So my question is: in what way does your stance on helmets fit in with your other views on society and science?


A libertarian would be opposed to compulsory helmet laws in principle, regardless of whether they save lives. Although I find libertarianism attractive in some ways, I think that the reality of life can be more complex and interconnected. One person's actions can affect many others, like a spider's web. However, it's not necessary to be a libertarian to be opposed to compulsory helmet laws, because the evidence shows that they don't work!

I think "evidence-based policy" is in general a good thing. However, it sometimes isn't that simple, because in some cases the evidence itself may be controversial (e.g. the underlying assumptions of the researcher need to be understood), and some issues are fundamentally moral issues. Once we know what we are trying to achieve, evidence and science can help us to find the best way of achieving it. But deciding what we are trying to achieve is a whole different question! Perhaps this distinction could be obscured if the underlying assumptions of the researchers producing the evidence happen to align with the assumptions of those proposing the policy.

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Re: "Denialism" and cycle helmets

Postby brynpoeth » 27 Oct 2018, 8:38pm

Flinders wrote:..
The horse-riding community has a far more accepting view of helmets, which is surprising in a lot of ways, given the demographic and risk factors involved. That means that good design is encouraged, and standards have risen a lot over time.

Why is the difference surprising? Helmet manufacturers want to sell as many as possible whether cycle helmets, caving or riding helmets, that is the same $$!

There are two big differences, one can nearly always control ones cycle but one never knows if a horse may bolt or go crazy, on a horse one is much higher than a cycle

Could one wear a riding helmet when cycling? Or a cycle helmet when riding?
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pjclinch
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Re: "Denialism" and cycle helmets

Postby pjclinch » 27 Oct 2018, 8:42pm

StephenW wrote:Perhaps this distinction could be obscured if the underlying assumptions of the researchers producing the evidence happen to align with the assumptions of those proposing the policy.


Similarly, the phenomenon of "policy based evidence making". Transport Research Laboratory report 446 on, errr, cycle helmets is a good example.
To make an estimate of the effectiveness of helmets the authors make an assumption they admit is picked out of the air and go on to use it to demonstrate that helmets are effective...

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