Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Good/Bad Headline...

"Feeling bias may hike blacks’ breast cancer risk" advises the headline on MSNBC.

Maybe this is just my typical American societal sexually repressed juvenile type reaction to that headline, but I immediately wondered what sort of bias there was to black breasts being felt. I suppose on a strictly personal level I would have to count myself as a contributor to bias against feeling black breasts, because in all my wild days as a free agent, I was decidedly segregationist in this respect. Simply from not having the same opportunity mind you, not from any taste against black breasts... Now I'm off the market on a permanent basis so my contribution to desegregation when it comes to feeling breasts isn't going to improve either.

Besides, what in the world would a bias in feeling have to do with breast cancer. It must be that while feeling breasts some percentage of suspect lumps are found, but that somehow black breasts were not subject to the same groping desires so the lumps would be more liable to escape notice? All of these considerations raced through my mind even as I clicked the headline to find out what the fuss was all about.

It turns out that a better description in lieu of the word "Feeling" in the headline would have been "The perception of", to make the headline read "The perception of bias may hike blacks’ breast cancer risk". In other words, blacks who think they routinely face bias in their everyday lives are more liable to have breast cancer than the rest of the population.

Once the gist of the story became clear to me, I thought to myself that the headline was really very bad. Then I realized that if my own example were any indication, that the headline may very well be doing exactly what headlines are meant to do. Reeling readers into the story.

But still, that is a bad headline.

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