13 February, 2005

Huevos Rancheros

In the past I've complained at least once or twice in this space about bad science being widely reported in the press and blown out of all proportion. This time, though, it's personal.

A few weeks back a study came out purporting to show that laptop computers (when used in eponymic fashion) can contribute to low sperm count and problems with fertility, due to the heat generated by the laptop. Millions of men are now doubtless (and needlessly) concerned that they have been slowly cooking their poor cajones over the past several years. And now I have to put up with my roommates chiding me for sitting on the sofa with my laptop atop my lap.

But, of course, the story is ridiculous. Here is a good summary of the study, with the salient result:
"We found that scrotal temperatures rose by 2.1°C when the men sat with their thighs together, which is necessary to keep LC on the lap. But, the rise was significantly higher when the LC were used - 2.8°C on the right side and 2.6°C on the left," said Dr Sheynkin. " It shows that scrotal hyperthermia is produced by both special body posture and local heating effect of LC."
Now, if one is not a total idiot, this should immediately strike one as moronic. The argument being made, essentially, is that KEEPING YOUR LEGS TOGETHER WILL DAMAGE YOUR FERTILITY! Jesús Marimba!

In addition the argument that long-term heat exposure is damaging to fertility should raise some eyebrows. After all, a significant fraction of the world's population spends a good portion of the year in 40+ °C heat. I can assure you they are still adequately fertile.

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