Search this site:


June 28, 2007 12:03 AM

Broken: St. Croix newspaper article

Fat1Bob Sifniades submits a scan of a Health and Fitness article from the St. Croix Avis newspaper:

The St. Croix Avis, a US Virgin Islands newspaper published this AP article about body fat with a photo showing an MRI scan image.

The caption of the photo reads: The image is of an average-sized man who is 1.9 meters tall, weighs 79 kilograms and has a normal index of 21.7. Internal fat is show as yellow, external fat is green and muscles are red.

The image and the caption do not match - The image is distorted to make the figure look fat, most Americans don't know the metric system (FYI, 1.9 meters is 6 feet 3 inches, which is quite above average - 79 kilograms is 174 pounds), and the photo is in black and white so you can't see which parts of the image are muscle or internal and external fat.


Also, 79 / 1.9^2 isn't 21.7, it's 21.88.

Posted by: mathew at June 28, 2007 12:47 AM

Not to mention this image is horrendously barely looks human. It looks to be stretched horizontally (the spine looks really wide), giving an inaccurate display of a human body.

Posted by: ashleyriot_vs at June 28, 2007 01:35 AM

No, they didn't try very hard on this one, but why is using metric broken? The USA declared independence from the British Empire over 200 years ago. Why are you insisting that they continue to use the Imperial system?

Some people interpret catering to the customer to mean making sure the dumbest users/readers aren't challenged, but I think that's a bit simplistic. There's a reason why Engish has so many words, and if you don't use them, you wind up with ambiguities like "average-sized" when "of average build" is clearer. Many of the people who read a sciency article have some concept of what a meter or a kilogram is, and those who don't are only gonna work it out via exposure in newspapers and other media.

Anyway, the whole article is broken because it's not about puppies or sex, and therefore will not interest the great majority of readers.

Posted by: B at June 28, 2007 02:23 AM

"Why are you insisting that they continue to use the Imperial system?"

He's observing that they do. (And he's right, they do.)

Posted by: rich at June 28, 2007 09:15 AM

Mathew, I would assume that's just because of rounding. Like, 79 was rounded up, 1.9 was rounded down.

Also, this isn't an article intended just for sciency people, because I assume a lot of people care about not being fat. Newspapers are supposed to deliver news to everyone, and since more people are more familiar with imperial units, those should be used, unless there is some convention otherwise (as would be the case, perhaps, in a journal like Nature).

Posted by: Fuzzy at June 28, 2007 09:44 AM

That was nice of them to give you a picture to color along with the article, helps keep the kids entertained! Looks like they forgot the corresponding numbers though...

Posted by: ambrocked at June 28, 2007 11:59 AM

Any writer that uses colors to clarify a black and white photo is broken. And so is the editor.

Posted by: David at June 28, 2007 12:24 PM

David = Right

Newspaper and Editor = VERY WRONG!


Posted by: Maxaxle at June 28, 2007 05:08 PM

Oh...wait...the SCAN may be in black-and-white, and the NEWSPAPER may be in color......

Posted by: Maxaxle at June 28, 2007 05:10 PM

There is no problem with using metric units. The caption clearly states the MRI came from London and is used in a newspaper for the US Virgin Islands, both of which utilize the metric system. Though I agree on the use of color descriptors.

Posted by: klew at June 28, 2007 05:45 PM

> The USA declared independence from the British

> Empire over 200 years ago. Why are you insisting that

> they continue to use the Imperial system?

I think you have it rather the wrong way round -- if the USA were sitll a British colony, they'd probably have moved over to metric years ago, when the British did...

Posted by: Simon at June 28, 2007 08:31 PM

Comments on this entry are closed

Previous Posts: