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Bed Bugs, Statistics, Press-Release Reporting, and You

(Reposted from my Snip, Burn, Solder Blog)

I continue to write a monthly column for the Ann Arbor Chronicle. This latest installment explores the dangers of bed bugs (SPOILER ALERT: zilch), as well as the dangers of hysterical unverified re-reporting of "information" in press releases (SPOILER ALER: significant). It begins like this:


We met our first bed bug while traveling in the spring of 2011. My wife had plucked the creature from a friend’s bedroom wall. . . .

And ends like this:


. . . If you’re tempted to dismiss such things as “all in your head,” then just remember this: An intelligent man – a man you respect enough to wade through 4,000 words of his thoughts on bed bugs – drove into the vortex, endangering the lives of his toddler and seven-year-old, because he was afraid of the bed bug’s bite.

And has about 4000 words in between, with a whole mess of numbers and attributable statements of fact (with attribution!).

In case you happen to run into bed bugs while traveling, I've written up this handy supplemental guide: Bed Bugs: A Traveler's Response.