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The helmet thread

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The helmet thread

Old 06-12-13, 05:23 PM
  #5576  
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One of my longtime heros, Ben Goldacre (writer of the Bad Science columns for the Guardian), has weighed in on the helmet issue in the British Medical Journal. The subtitle of the short piece "Canadian legislation had minimal effect on serious head injuries" refers to the research cited up-thread by Chasm54. Well worth a read:
https://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f...type=ref#ref-9

Last edited by RazrSkutr; 06-12-13 at 05:27 PM. Reason: parenthetical commas, add info about Chasm54 citation
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Old 06-12-13, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer
I notice they are more likely to leave you alone after a short while if you were wearing a helmet when you crashed.
That sucks.. because you have the same risk of concussion with or without a helmet. Guess you've just given a great reason for not wearing a helmet: first responders are more likely to observe you carefully.
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Old 06-12-13, 05:32 PM
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I like Goldacre's work. In this instance, though, he isn't adding much to the sum of our knowledge. Essentially he is saying that it is all too difficult.
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Old 06-12-13, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by chasm54
I like Goldacre's work. In this instance, though, he isn't adding much to the sum of our knowledge. Essentially he is saying that it is all too difficult.
I certainly understand that reaction... but I prefer to look at it as a statement that none of the studies performed to date are adequate grounds for claiming (as the BMA has done several times in general council votes) that helmet use is prophylactic for head injuries. Spiegelhalter is a serious heavyweight in the stats world, so I'm happy that it's out there as a counter-balance to the fervid claims that the case-control studies are definitive... in fact for an academic paper it's fairly damning language "These studies, however, are vulnerable to many methodological shortcomings" and " Supporters of helmets often tell vivid stories about someone they knew, or heard of, who was apparently saved from severe head injury by a helmet."
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Old 06-12-13, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by RazrSkutr
That sucks.. because you have the same risk of concussion with or without a helmet.
Guess you've just given a great reason for not wearing a helmet: first responders are more likely to observe you carefully.
Yes.....that's exactly what I said, and I was as serious as a heart attack when i wrote it.
And thank you for 'splaining concussive trauma to me, 'cause I di'n't know anything about that stuff.

Originally Posted by 3alarmer
Strictly speaking, the source of concussion is your brain slamming against your
skull due to the sudden deceleration of your skull, without similar deceleration
applied to your more liquidy brain. This has been evident in football players for years.

Still, it's considered desirable to keep the skull more or less intact. Brain tissue is ugly.
You guys are really off the hook here in the helment thread..............
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Old 06-12-13, 07:00 PM
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Just for the heck of it, here's another bit of anecdotal evidence for helment use:



I am actually acquainted with this guy and his wife, from their time here in Sacramento.
His helment cam separated at impact, and continued to photograph him in flight, sorta
more or less head first, but it's hard to tell from the pictures.

Here's his wife, Lea's oped letter to the local paper down there.

Plea from an injured cyclist's wife: Drivers, pay attention

California Highway Patrol Officer C.L. Hawkins, who was investigating the crash, emerged from the trauma center’s closed doors carrying a black plastic garbage bag containing the tattered clothes and other belongings of my husband, Myron “Skip” Amerine. She also handed me his cracked, blood-stained helmet.

The driver, she said, was a 23-year-old woman from Cayucos who was running late to her job in Morro Bay. The driver didn’t see Skip until she collided with him from behind at approximately 65 mph. Officer Hawkins said the driver told her she “must not have been paying good enough attention” — a statement included in the official CHP traffic collision report.

The crash occurred on the tricky southbound stretch of Highway 1 between the Highway 41 onramp and Main Street onramp. Bike riders are supposed to follow the dashed white line to the right of the through slow lane and avoid weaving across the on- and off-ramps.

A digital video camera image of Skip and his bicycle flying horizontally over the dashed white line where he was supposed to be riding provided solid evidence the driver was at fault. The camera had been mounted on his helmet, but popped off on impact and kept recording until it was turned off by the investigating officers.
.........and yes, he had multiple injuries, including a concussion. What he did not have was his brains on the road.

You fellers make of that whatever you want to make of it. It's just another anecdote, after all........
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Old 06-12-13, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer
Yes.....that's exactly what I said
No, it's actually not. You said exactly something different. Maybe you weren't as clear as you'd like to be. No need to get whiny about it. Just try harder next time.
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Old 06-12-13, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer
You fellers make of that whatever you want to make of it. It's just another anecdote, after all...
What do you make of it? Are you claiming that without the helmet your concussed friend would have had his brains on the road?
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Old 06-12-13, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by RazrSkutr
What do you make of it? Are you claiming that without the helmet your concussed friend would have had his brains on the road?
And are you claiming that he wouldn't have had his brains on the road if he wasn't wearing a helmet? Well maybe he would have, maybe he wouldn't, all we know was that he was wearing a helmet and he was OK...
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Old 06-12-13, 07:28 PM
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Hay, er Hey, how about that brain-saver helmet. Any good? Just trying to get back on topic, sigh...

Last edited by 350htrr; 06-12-13 at 07:39 PM.
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Old 06-12-13, 08:23 PM
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I have zero, Nada, zilch experience, in helmet designs or "actual" effectiveness or lack of, either, BUT, I do tend to pontificate about how having something between the old brain case and the pavement when the old brain-case may, happens to bounce off the pavement, is actually "better" than not having something... But it's all JMO thus means nothing to some people who have waay more education than I, Them armed with scientific proof (statistics and tests) that having a helmet on actually increases the chance of more injury than without a helmet, thus I have become a flat world-er in a "proven" round world here in this wonderful helmet thread....
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Old 06-12-13, 08:34 PM
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The problem with emphasis on helmets, is that it misses the key point. I don't think there's any doubt anywhere that a helmet can mitigate injury in a crash with a head impact. That's fine as far as it goes. Mitigating damage in an accident if always good, but unfortunately just about the only bicycling safety discussion going on is "wear a helmet".

What's missing is discussion about preventing the accident in the first place. So we have helmeted cyclists descending at speeds above what they have the experience to manage, helmeted urban cyclists with little or no awareness of traffic patterns around them, running red lights (I I don't mean treating them as a stop or yield sign, I mean burning them at speed), Helmeted cyclists, with Ipods, who can't hear what's going on around them, or who like auto drivers, are busy looking at the screen or even texting). I could go on, but I think you see my point.

What nobody ever discusses, is that accidents aren't readomly distributed among all cyclists, but that some cyclists have signoficantly more than others (adjusted for distance or time).

Maybe we need to refocus safety education from what's above your ears to what's between them. Whether you wear a helmet or not, ride smart.
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Old 06-12-13, 08:51 PM
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Yes, I do believe that pretty well EVERYBODY here in the helmet thread has so far argued that wearing a helmet is the last line of defence, riding defensively following the rules of the road and so on are way more helpful than just wearing a helmet... But what bugs me is that the people who say not to wear a helmet usually say things like, the odds are soo low that you will ever actually get in a crash where the head hits the pavement that it's OK not to wear one, or that because they are soo good a rider they will never crash, so a helmet is not necessary, and so on... Not o mention that some actually believe that wearing a helmet, actually increases the chance of a crash...
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Old 06-12-13, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by 350htrr
But what bugs me is that the people who say not to wear a helmet usually say things like, the odds are soo low that you will ever actually get in a crash where the head hits the pavement that it's OK not to wear one, or that because they are soo good a rider they will never crash, so a helmet is not necessary, and so on... Not o mention that some actually believe that wearing a helmet, actually increases the chance of a crash...
Despite that they bug you, those arguments are perfectly valid. In the context of other daily activities, cycling is already pretty safe (if rider uses what's between the ears) with a head injury rate that's actually pretty low (once you take children out of the numbers). If you further take other manageable factors such as not riding late Saturday night in college towns, not riding in large unruly pacelines with folks you don't know, not racing, etc. then cycling becomes as safe as many other sports, if not safer.

Nothing makes you immune to accident and injury, but it is fairly easy to manage risk.

I scuba dive, and what's more dangerous I scuba dive in submerged caves. This used to be one of the most dangerous sports of any. But over the years, people got smarter, protocols were developed, and now, among trained divers, cave diving has a safety record better than open water diving.

Nothing is risk free, but risk is manageable (helmets are risk management too) and risk can be brought down to acceptable levels, and preventing accidents trumps mitigating accident damage every day.
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Old 06-12-13, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by 350htrr
Not o mention that some actually believe that wearing a helmet, actually increases the chance of a crash...
There has been a long and acrimonious debate over motorcyclists and mandatory helment use.

I'm pretty sure this was borrowed from that particular debate, because I recall seeing it there
long before helment laws for bicyclists were proposed. Likewise, many of the arguments about
helments increasing certain types of neck and spinal injuries come out of that debate.


The one thing I can state uncategorically is that no body will ever convince anyone on the innerweebz
either to begin or to cease wearing a bicycle helment.

Originally Posted by Russo's Modern Rules
–Rule 39: Go not to the Internet for counsel, for it will say both “Yes,” “No,” and “Ask somewhere else.”
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Old 06-12-13, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer
The one thing I can state uncategorically is that no body will ever convince anyone on the innerweebz
either to begin or to cease wearing a bicycle helment.
There's an asymmetry here. Nobody (seriously) is trying to tell people not to wear helmets. OTOH, many helmet wearers having decided what's best for themselves, favor mandatory helmet laws so everybody else can benefit from their enlightenment. Also, even if not in favor of mandatory helmet laws, have no problem asking every non-helmeted rider they pass on the road "hey, where's your helmet?"

Moreover, the word is out, and even non cyclists feel free to remind cyclists about helmets.

I had a car run a red light and almost T-bone me. I stopped short of his line of motion, ending up right by the driver's door. So he winds down his window and instead of asking if I was OK, or apologizing for creating a near accident, he tells me I should be wearing a helmet.
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Old 06-12-13, 10:14 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
There's an asymmetry here. Nobody (seriously) is trying to tell people not to wear helmets. OTOH, many helmet wearers having decided what's best for themselves, favor mandatory helmet laws so everybody else can benefit from their enlightenment. Also, even if not in favor of mandatory helmet laws, have no problem asking every non-helmeted rider they pass on the road "hey, where's your helmet?"

Moreover, the word is out, and even non cyclists feel free to remind cyclists about helmets.

I had a car run a red light and almost T-bone me. I stopped short of his line of motion, ending up right by the driver's door. So he winds down his window and instead of asking if I was OK, or apologizing for creating a near accident, he tells me I should be wearing a helmet.
.........hey, I still get the occasional guy telling me I shouldn't be in the lane with the grown ups.

And if it makes you feel any less put upon (it will not), smokers take it worse than the unhelmented.


And get a haircut...........hippie.
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Old 06-12-13, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer
And if it makes you feel any less put upon (it will not), smokers take it worse than the unhelmented.
I don't feel better knowing smokers get it worse. I'm a non smoker, but feel that smokers get a ton of undeserved composte.


Originally Posted by 3alarmer
And get a haircut...........hippie.
How did you know? Yes dad, I'll get one next week.
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Old 06-13-13, 02:47 AM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer
Unlike the majority of contributors to the helment thread, I really have no expertise in helmet design,
I have only an introductory course in statistics at the college level, and mostly, I'm not selling anything.

I know that if you can keep your skull intact, you're probably better off in an accident, but even then,
if there's enough swelling and/or bleeding within the cranium, some genius brain surgeon is gonna install
a pressure relief valve for you.


I know that I wear a helment when I ride now, but for a long time prior to the mid 90's, I did not.

And even when I worked for local fire, I rode both with and without one, until I really rang my bell
at high speed once and decided maybe I was more fragile now......


Mostly, I'm just here to draw from the inexhaustible well of craziness that is the helment thread.


I mean, where else can you say this:



and get this in return:










We used to have a saying, "spring loaded to the pissed off position."
Well, if you are gonna troll people around here you are going to get something back for your efforts. But as far as I have been reading your posts you have not yet brought anything really useful to the table. Just babbling really. And of course the world shaking anecdotal stuff which will of course turn our heads immediately. OR, perhaps when we are actually trying to go with scientific stuff here, like statistics and reports etc. anecdotal stuff has no value what so ever. But for the hell of it, I'm gonna do a few just for the entertainment value.

first off a friend of mine got beaten up with a golf club. A two iron, which is the longest and heaviest of the iron clubs. It has a largeish metal head with wedges and sharp edges all over. Practically a perfect tool for perforating the skull. He got a full head on blow thrown by a drug addict full power on the back of the head. You could tell the guy had some strength because the other blow he got really did some damage. The second blow to the shoulder blade tore open the skin to the bone. As I recall he also got several punches to the head by two different fellows and several kicks to the head and a few kicks and punches in random other places. He should be dead right?
Nope, no severe head trauma, just a small cut where the club hit him and of course bruises and the gaping wound on his back. No broken bones and no concussion.

This is to prove that anecdotal evidence doesn't prove anything. You might think that since the situation was severe enough and enough parameters were fulfilled it actually counts for something it actually counts for absolutely nothing. If a helmet broke it doesn't mean _anything_! If a helmet compressed and stayed intact it still doesn't mean _anything_! Only when properly analyzed and controlled data fills a statistic does the single evidence do any difference and that is as a part of the bigger picture.

So let's just stop the anecdotal stuff shall we. It doesn't take this discussion anywhere.
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Old 06-13-13, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by 350htrr
And are you claiming that he wouldn't have had his brains on the road if he wasn't wearing a helmet? Well maybe he would have, maybe he wouldn't, all we know was that he was wearing a helmet and he was OK...
If his brains did not end up on the road when wearing a piece of polystyrene on his head a non-hysterical, reasonable person would probably be right in guessing that without a helmet the same thing would happen.

Your style of oblique, smiley-laced post in which you avoid stating your point clearly is unclear and a bit dishonest.
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Old 06-13-13, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer
And just for the record, your failure to interpret sarcasm successfully does not equate to me being whiny. Just means you're a little slow on the uptake, Bubs.
There is another possibility: your posts don't achieve whatever effect for which you're aiming. Sorry if I assumed that you were as unhinged due to your presentation. I shall take you seriously now as a guy that heard once about a friend of a friend who would have died without a helmet: "brains ALL OVER THE ROAD!!!"
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Old 06-13-13, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by elcruxio
Well, if you are gonna troll people around here you are going to get something back for your efforts. But as far as I have been reading your posts you have not yet brought anything really useful to the table. Just babbling really. And of course the world shaking anecdotal stuff which will of course turn our heads immediately. OR, perhaps when we are actually trying to go with scientific stuff here, like statistics and reports etc. anecdotal stuff has no value what so ever. But for the hell of it, I'm gonna do a few just for the entertainment value.

first off a friend of mine got beaten up with a golf club. A two iron, which is the longest and heaviest of the iron clubs. It has a largeish metal head with wedges and sharp edges all over. Practically a perfect tool for perforating the skull. He got a full head on blow thrown by a drug addict full power on the back of the head. You could tell the guy had some strength because the other blow he got really did some damage. The second blow to the shoulder blade tore open the skin to the bone. As I recall he also got several punches to the head by two different fellows and several kicks to the head and a few kicks and punches in random other places. He should be dead right?
Nope, no severe head trauma, just a small cut where the club hit him and of course bruises and the gaping wound on his back. No broken bones and no concussion.

This is to prove that anecdotal evidence doesn't prove anything. You might think that since the situation was severe enough and enough parameters were fulfilled it actually counts for something it actually counts for absolutely nothing. If a helmet broke it doesn't mean _anything_! If a helmet compressed and stayed intact it still doesn't mean _anything_! Only when properly analyzed and controlled data fills a statistic does the single evidence do any difference and that is as a part of the bigger picture.

So let's just stop the anecdotal stuff shall we. It doesn't take this discussion anywhere.

Thanks for the advice..........I must have missed that the helment thread was "going somewhere". Mea maxima culpa.

Please, please, please PM me when someone "proves" something here, because I wouldn't want to miss it.​
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Old 06-13-13, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by RazrSkutr
There is another possibility: your posts don't achieve whatever effect for which you're aiming. Sorry if I assumed that you were as unhinged due to your presentation. I shall take you seriously now as a guy that heard once about a friend of a friend who would have died without a helmet: "brains ALL OVER THE ROAD!!!"
No worries..............I can assure you I will have great difficulty ever taking you seriously, little buddy.
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Old 06-13-13, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer
Thanks for the advice..........I must have missed that the helment thread was "going somewhere". Mea maxima culpa.

Please, please, please PM me when someone "proves" something here, because I wouldn't want to miss it.​
Don't be so cynical. There are many more pages to fill, I assure you it will go somewhere, next step is page 226...
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Old 06-13-13, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Six jours
It's what passes for content over on the 41.

At any rate, calling names is plainly against the rules but there's nothing that specifically covers "vapid and useless". C'est la vie.
I know I'm gonna hate myself later on for asking this, but what exactly passes for content in the helment thread ?

Are there really 225 internet pages worth of statistical studies of bicycle accident and injury, science of helment design, and similar ?

Or is it pretty much 225 pages of the same insult and invective, coupled with painful logical fallacy I've so far seen in the last couple ?
You'll understand if I am reluctant to go back and review it from the beginning, I hope.

I know this thing serves a useful purpose, if nothing else as a source of entertainment for the moderation staff.

But really..................content ? Honestly ?...........................
The whole thing reads like an existentialist play on steroids, my friend.
You guys are in a hell of your own design.
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