Tag Archives: myth

The Abner Doubleday Myth

It turns out that Abner Doubleday did not invent baseball. The true story of the game’s origins is actually quite mundane — it evolved over time as a messy, Hayekian spontaneous order. No one person can claim to have invented the modern version of baseball.

The story of how Abner Doubleday was given his mythical status, however, is immensely entertaining. Apparently it came from a crazy person — literally — who wrote a letter to the founder of Spalding sporting goods. Spalding spread the story because he wanted people to believe that baseball was a uniquely American game, invented by an American. People were eager to believe him; some still are.

Joe Posnanski tells the tale well, as he does with everything he writes. Read the whole thing. It will make you laugh, and you will learn something about how easy it is for tall tales to become accepted fact. Lessons abound for the public policy world.

Cell Phones Don’t Cause Cancer

Over at the Daily Caller, I debunk the fear that long-term cell phone use can cause brain tumors. San Francisco and Maine already have warning label regulations on the books. Rep. Dennis Kucinich has introduced federal warning label legislation. Here are the main reasons they’re wasting their time:

-Activists promoting the scare only ever mention brain tumors. But you hold your cell phone in your hand. You hold it next to your ear and your jaw. Why no mention of those cancers? Suspicious.

-Most phones only emit one watt of energy. The human body generates about a hundred times that much energy during normal, everyday activity. Adding a single watt to that baseline does nothing to contribute to the DNA damage that can lead to tumor growth.

-Cell phone photons are so weak, they fall short of DNA-damaging energy levels by about a factor of 500,000. So you might have something to worry about if you strapped half a million cell phones to your body. That would be getting crushed to death, not cancer. Phones don’t operate at cancer-causing frequencies.

The Myth of Bush the Deregulator

Here’s a letter I sent recently to The New York Times:

May 14, 2010

Editor, The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018

To the Editor:

Your May 12 article “With Obama, Regulations Are Back in Fashion” (page A15) asserts that the Bush administration had a “deregulatory agenda.” If that is true, then President Bush failed miserably in executing it.

His administration added 31,634 new regulations to the books, and repealed hardly any. The cost of complying with federal regulations exceeded $1 trillion for the first time on Bush’s watch. 587,321 new pages were added to Federal Register during the Bush years.*

Even the regulation-intensive Obama administration is passing new regulations at a pace nearly ten percent slower than President Bush.

Contrary to the article, the Bush administration was the best friend regulators have had in a generation or more.

Ryan Young
Warren T. Brookes Journalism Fellow
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Washington, DC

*All data from Wayne Crews, Ten Thousand Commandments.

Does March Madness Really Hurt the Economy?

An annual study claims that the NCAA’s basketball championship tournament makes workers less productive. The illicit temptations of filling out brackets and watching games instead of working will cost the economy about $1.8 billion this year.  Over at the Daily Caller, I show why that’s (mostly) a myth.