By Sandy Long
The definition of Junk Science is simple, from junk science.com; “Junk science” is faulty scientific data and analysis used to advance special and, often, hidden agendas. The people who might use junk science are:
The MEDIA may use junk science for sensational headlines and programming. Some members of the media use junk science to advance their and their employers’ social and political agendas.
PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS may use junk science to bamboozle juries into awarding huge verdicts. Large verdicts may then be used to extort even greater sums from deep-pocket businesses fearful of future jury verdicts.
SOCIAL ACTIVISTS, such as the “food police,” environmental extremists, and gun-control advocates, may use junk science to achieve social and political change.
GOVERNMENT REGULATORS may use junk science to expand their authority and to increase their budgets.
BUSINESSES may use junk science to bad-mouth competitors’ products or to make bogus claims about their own products.
POLITICIANS may use junk science to curry favor with special interest groups or to be “politically correct.”
INDIVIDUAL SCIENTISTS may use junk science to achieve fame and fortune.
INDIVIDUALS who are ill (real or imagined) may use junk science to blame others for causing their illness.
I remember when, as a rookie driver, someone did a big slanted study on drug use by truckers because of some major wreck at the time where the driver was either drunk or doped up. Because of this, the TV show 20/20 went out to Colton California to the old Waterman Street truck stop and did interviews of the drivers laid over there for the weekend.
Of course, truckers being truckers, many who were interviewed took advantage of being possibly on TV and told ‘trucker’s tales’ of how drivers all were handed big handfuls of speed when dispatched. Then the TV crew went over to Colorado Kids, a bar next to the truck stop, on Saturday night and filmed truckers who were partying. The TV show producer then edited this into the infamous “20/20 Killer Truck Driver” segment showing that truckers were all pill popping, drinking while driving killers of innocent people. Talk about sensationalism!
It does not stop there. Shortly after this segment and study, the government decided that seeing as how truckers were such dopers, that they should be pulled over for random roadside drug testing; yes, the pee in the bottle whenever told to law. Some companies even had these test kits in the trucks for the tests. OOIDA jumped into this fray and got it stopped, but this faulty science thought keeps sneaking into the government’s head. Within the last few years, there was talk about drawing blood during routine stops to check for drugs and alcohol.
Another media tactic using ‘junk science’ that is still fall out from that ‘20/20 segment’ is that of starting to call any accident concerning any size of truck; for instance, “Drunk Truck Driver Kills Five”. It is only in the last paragraph that one finds that it was a pick up truck involved in the wreck.
Accident statistics are another area that are often misquoted by the media and others who benefit from ‘junk science’. The number of fatalities involving semi trucks per year is around 5,000 people. Approximately 80% of those accidents were not caused by the truck driver, but were the fault of the other vehicle. The media rarely mentions the ‘who’s at fault’ part of the statistics, only concentrating on the semi trucks kill 5,000 people annually slant.
The above led, along with being given the right to advertise, to lawyers who started specializing in personal injury cases involving truckers. Billboards abound, the yellow pages are full, the web is covered with lawyers who’s main goal is to promote fear of truckers that are going to ’run over you’ but it is ok, the lawyer can get you millions of dollars in settlements if you hire them to take your case.
Another media focus is on prostitution at truck stops that further defames truckers. Some crime happens at a truck stop concerning a prostitute, the local media jumps in, has someone do some sort of statistical analysis about how many hookers are at truck stops (though I have no idea how they would come up with that figure), then write big stories about it. Of course, this only happens in big city truck stops and nothing is mentioned about how many hookers are working on the street corners down town. Next thing you know, the major media are covering undercover ‘sting’ operations to catch those nasty truck drivers who avail themselves of a prostitutes services making it seem that every trucker does this.
All of this ‘junk science’ has led to truckers being viewed not as the important part of the economy or as the public servants they are, but as terrible people who are only out to party, do drugs, chase lot lizards and kill you and your family in your car. The general public follows along believing in everything they read or hear from the media, not realizing that sensationalism sells and newspapers and TV shows are there to make money in one way or another. Add to that the fact that when an accident happens involving a semi truck, it is usually quite spectacular and you have the perfect start for more ‘junk science’ against trucks and truckers to be used by more groups for their benefit; surely not the trucker’s.