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Should Addictive Tech Come With a Health Warning? 329

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the nanny-state dept.
holy_calamity writes "Academics researching how technology addiction affects businesses and employees say 'habit-forming' gadgets like Blackberries should be dispensed along with warnings about the effect they can have on your life. 'We don't want to be in a situation in a few years similar to that with fast food or tobacco today. We need to pay attention to how people react to potentially habit-forming technologies.'"
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Should Addictive Tech Come With a Health Warning?

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  • Absolutely Not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by milsoRgen (1016505) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @06:52PM (#22495304) Homepage
    Any behavior comes with a risk of psychological addiction. To stipulate a health warning on devices is absolutely ludacris.
    • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @06:54PM (#22495354) Homepage Journal
      Any behavior comes with a risk of psychological addiction. To stipulate a health warning on devices is absolutely ludacris.

      Exactly. Just imagine someone getting addicted to reading warning labels and the having to write a warning label that reads:

          "This device can be considered addictive, get a life*.

            *Reading warning labels is considered addictive, don't read.
      • Re:Absolutely Not (Score:5, Interesting)

        by milsoRgen (1016505) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @06:56PM (#22495380) Homepage
        I actually had to RTA, and it just got worse...

        Another question is whether the costs of addiction are felt directly enough by companies for economic factors to make them act. If they are only felt by employees, pressure from outside agencies like governments could be the only way to save us from an addiction epidemic.
        Sometimes it just isn't worth logging on...
        • Re:Absolutely Not (Score:5, Insightful)

          by cuantar (897695) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @07:05PM (#22495524) Homepage
          Oh no! Help us, Nanny State! We need you to save us from our pathetic lack of willpower, responsibility, and maturity!
        • by wsanders (114993) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @07:09PM (#22495594) Homepage
          Why don't we just put a warning on everything!
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by node 3 (115640)
          How is that bad, let alone "worse"? Sometimes only the government (or other regulatory organization) can counter certain actions, at least on any reasonable timeframe. The most obvious example is seat-belts.

          That's not to say that government intervention is always good or desirable, but sometimes *it's absolutely crucial*.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by milsoRgen (1016505)

            How is that bad, let alone "worse"?
            Oh I don't know, government mandated 'correct' usage of consumer electronics devices as suggested by the author seems a whole lot worse then the subject of the article itself... How you can equate any of that to seat belts is far beyond me.
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by KublaiKhan (522918)
              There's already government-mandated 'correct' usage of spraypaint. Read a can of any aerosol sometime: it's a federal offense to use it in a manner other than indicated on the packaging.

              It's to give 'em something to prosecute 'huffers' on, o'course, but it's still a government-mandated 'approved' use, meaning that, yes, your canned-air-flamethrower made from a lighter strapped to a canned air or hairspray can that you've been using to toast mosquitoes is illegal.
          • Re:Absolutely Not (Score:5, Insightful)

            by lgw (121541) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @07:57PM (#22496292) Journal
            I know! How about we let adults choos for themselves whether to indulge in self-destructive behavior if it makes them happy. We could just decide that freedom was more important than safety. It's a revolutionary idea.

            Or, I dunno, we could arrest and imprison someone for their own safety if they decide not to wear a seatbelt, or a not to wear a motorcycle helmet, or eat to much fast food, or whatever else someone doesn't like today. Think of the children! Freedom is scary, and we'll save a couple bucks on health insurace -- its win-win!
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by node 3 (115640)
              I absolutely and fully agree that adults should have the right to engage in self-destructive behavior. This is not what we're talking about here (and fuck me, does no one know that seat-belts were not required on cars for half-a-century?). I'm talking about placing obstacles in the way so that if someone is going to harm themselves, it's because *they truly want to engage in that behavior* and not simply because they've been tricked or directed into such behavior by those who stand to make money of their se
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Rakishi (759894)
            Why? If you don't care enough about your own life to protect it then why should the government care and why should the rest of us pay for it?

            There are of course economic arguments for certain laws (be it cost to society indirectly or directly) however even those are arsine. Unless people themselves decide to not act stupid you will just need to pile on laws till it's beyond absurd.

            I mean the logical conclusion of your argument is that we should all be brainwashed or have computer ships shoved into our heads
          • Re:Absolutely Not (Score:5, Insightful)

            by khayman80 (824400) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @08:51PM (#22496814) Homepage Journal
            You've uncovered a basic point of contention regarding the role of government. Some people believe that the role of the government is to protect citizens from themselves. This mindset results in alcohol and drug prohibition (i.e. "we know how to run your life better than you, and we believe you shouldn't be drinking or smoking pot, so we're not going to let you"). It also results in religious laws like Sharia and the Inquisition (i.e. "we know how to run your life better than you, and we believe you shouldn't be worshipping any god but Allah/Jesus/what-have-you, so we're not going to let you. Oh, and go to prayers/church every couple of hours/week or we'll stone you to death/burn you at the stake. Again, this is just for the good of your immortal soul.")

            (Note that you may disagree with the particular reasoning employed in these examples. In fact, I hope you do- I intentionally chose extreme examples. My point is that by accepting the fundamental premise that the government has the right to protect you from yourself, your position is only quantitatively different from these policy disasters.)

            I'm sorry, but I just can't agree with this kind of reasoning. I think that governments should treat their citizens like adults, in the sense that we're capable of making decisions about our own lives/bodies and living with the consequences, be they good or bad. Maybe the decisions we make aren't the best possible ones, but they're our mistakes to make. I'm not an anarchist, though; I believe that the government has a very real and important role to play in the sense that they protect citizens from the actions of other people.

            So, in a sense, I'm irked that people like Hillary Clinton (who apparently believes that health insurance should be forced on everyone "for their own good") are treating me and my fellow citizens like preschoolers. But it's deeper than that. You see, I think that the only real purpose the government serves- to protect us from deranged people by keeping a police force/armed forces- effectively means that they need to hold a monopoly on power in the country. While I think I have the right to defend myself against aggression in my own home or car, it would be madness to suggest that I should be able to chase down burglars vigilante-style into the night, firing my automatic weapon at their car with my left hand while driving with my right. This is a job that should be left to trained police who have the resources and backup to perform such a manhunt without endangering bystanders.

            Unfortunately, this monopoly on power carries with it a strong predilection to abusing that authority (as anyone who's been on youtube lately can see for themselves.) So I'm loathe to give the government any powers over me and my fellow citizens that aren't absolutely necessary. The potential for abuse is just too great.

            A common objection to this argument is that the alternative is simply tyranny via corporation rather than tyranny by government- "at least the government is elected". I completely disagree. However evil and corrupt corporations are, they don't have the right to bust down my door at 2am and kill me or (if I'm lucky) drag me away to spend the rest of my life in a small cement room. I think this is a very important distinction, and that's why I will never agree with handing the government any more powers than are absolutely necessary to safeguard my rights to take action to preserve my life, liberty and property.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by StikyPad (445176)
              The problem isn't that people need to be protected from themselves, but rather that people don't think about the externalities of their actions. No man is an island, and all that..
              • Re:Absolutely Not (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @11:20PM (#22498132) Journal
                Exactly. A large number of people making bad decisions often affect more than just themselves. Just take a look at the sub prime scandal, those bad loans may just pull the entire nation into a recession. You may get laid off because some idiots signed mortgages they were never able to afford. Should the government have taken action, restricting their freedoms to prevent them from screwing you over? Its a tough question.
            • Re:Absolutely Not (Score:4, Interesting)

              by AdamHaun (43173) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @12:49AM (#22498768) Journal
              Why should a government treat its citizens like adults when marketers, entertainers, and the citizens themselves don't? The idea that people are inherently rational and can't be swayed by clever psychology is one of the biggest delusions in the modern world.

              However evil and corrupt corporations are, they don't have the right to bust down my door at 2am and kill me or (if I'm lucky) drag me away to spend the rest of my life in a small cement room.

              Libertarian types get really hung up on institutionalized violence, but I don't think they've made the case that physical oppression is really any worse than emotional oppression. There are many things that can fuck you up *much* worse than being locked in a small cement room. If you try, I bet you can think of many things that you would happily go to jail to prevent -- how about your little sister becoming anorexic? Or a dear friend becoming a junkie and spiraling down into suicide? Now here's the real question -- are those personal choices, or the result of the actions of other people? The reality is that it's mixed. Nobody decides in advance that they're going to have an eating disorder or get addicted to drugs or elevate their blood pressure by checking email all day and night. It takes one step at a time, and often those steps are encouraged by organized groups that take advantage of quirks of human behavior to make money. No individual has the resources to keep up with that all of the time. I agree that government regulation is far from ideal, but it does act as a counterweight to corporate abuse, and I think the claim that we don't need that is based on an unrealistic view of how people work.

              So to answer your earlier statement, does the government know better than me? About some things, no, but about a whole hell of a lot of things, yes. I'm one person; it's made up of millions.

      • Hehe.. "warning, this TV program may bring you coming back for more". It will soon be illegal to have all those cliffhangers in TV series'!
      • by _Sharp'r_ (649297)
        Warning! You may find this or another comment in this thread amusing. Regular amusement from reading comments on this web site may be addictive and potentially cause financial harm to your employer as well as contribute to a lack of interpersonal relationship time. Read comments with extreme caution and with moderation. (Pun intended).
    • Re:Absolutely Not (Score:5, Interesting)

      by t33jster (1239616) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @07:00PM (#22495470)
      No kidding! What would such a warning label look like?

      Surgeon General's Warning: The likelihood of a psychological addiction to this device is approximately equal to your own tendency to become psychologically addicted to stuff.

      I work in a place where they hand out blackberries like they're candy on Halloween. IMHO, people don't get 'addicted' to their blackberries, they become addicted to making it look like they're doing something important. Either way it's pathetic, and no warning label will fix it.
      • Ground Up (Score:4, Insightful)

        by milsoRgen (1016505) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @07:13PM (#22495664) Homepage

        Either way it's pathetic, and no warning label will fix it.
        It occurs to me everyone goes after the symptoms, never the problem them selves. We need to focusing on raising well adjusted physically fit people, that would drastically reduce the likelihood of any form of addiction. But I'm sure blowing research money on warning labels is just as good...
        • by SeaFox (739806)

          We need to focusing on raising well adjusted physically fit people, that would drastically reduce the likelihood of any form of addiction. But I'm sure blowing research money on warning labels is just as good...

          It's easier, that's why.

          Just like yesterday with Congress thinking of buying out that banking patent for a billion taxpayer dollars instead of reforming the actual patent system to prevent the abuse.

          Stickers and labels are much easier than trying to change people's behavior.

        • Physical fitness does not reduce the incidence of psychological addiction, and "well-adjusted" isn't exactly easy to quantify. Even if you did have a standard for that, raising people to meet it is far from feasible.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @07:02PM (#22495488)
      > ludacris.

      ...is the stage name of a rapper. You meant ludicrous, "so absurd as to cause laughter".

      (I'm psychologically addicted to hanging out at the local peeve ranch; that's one of my pet peeves.)

    • by misleb (129952)

      Any behavior comes with a risk of psychological addiction. To stipulate a health warning on devices is absolutely ludacris.


      How dare you associate addiction with Ludacris [wikipedia.org]!
    • by iamhassi (659463)
      "Any behavior comes with a risk of psychological addiction. "

      exactly. Next thing you know /. will have a warning label on it!
  • As if just looking at the folks who play these games isn't warning enough. Oh, wait. They never go out so we can see them!

    (Former Eve Online player here!)
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Yoooder (1038520)
      ...but on the rare occasions that they do they shine like a clean greased albino in a mud-wrestling contest
  • Heh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- (624050) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @06:53PM (#22495340) Journal
    Oh please, big government, save us from ourselves by outlawing more things! We don't need to be personally accountable for our own actions!
    • by node 3 (115640)

      Oh please, big government, save us from ourselves by outlawing more things! We don't need to be personally accountable for our own actions!
      Personal accountability requires information. What's being discussed here is not outlawing things, but providing information.
      • by BeanThere (28381)
        Actually, government laws are exactly one of the things being discussed EVEN IN THE ARTICLE: "... pressure from outside agencies like governments could be the only way to save us from an addiction epidemic".

        Do people really need "information" to know that, say, reading slashdot all day long at work and/or at home is dysfunctional and unproductive behaviour that'll probably get them fired, probably drive them to ruin, and possibly destroy their relationships? I don't think so. That's common sense.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by aliloln (973288)
        My box of Kleenex has a warning (no joke): "It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. Use only as a facial tissue."

        Makes me wonder what else I could be doing with my Kleenex...
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by adminstring (608310)
          That warning only appears on the special anti-viral Kleenex. [drugstore.com] The idea is that you should only use it to blow your nose, rather than eating the Kleenex in an attempt to fight off a viral infection, which wouldn't work and might be harmful.

          If you look at the active ingredients (Citric Acid (7.51%) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (2.02%)) you'll notice that the average bottle of shampoo contains the exact same active ingredients.

          So basically they're telling you not to eat soap, and that there is a Federal law
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Exactly!

      Next time someone wants a Nanny State to provide something to everyone, this should be the response from the crowd. I'd love to see someone say this very thing each and everytime Obama (or Hillary) or McCain mentions a new program to save us from ourselves.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @06:55PM (#22495360)
    Why didn't someone warn me about slashdot?
    • by CSMatt (1175471)
      Agreed. Slashdot should have a big warning on the top of the screen that reads: "WARNING: this site is highly addictive and will cost you hours of lost productivity." I know it has for me.
  • There's no mechanism for physiological addiction. In most cases, I'd say the tech doesn't even create the same brain opiate rush that activities like gambling do. What, should products come with a warning that they're too fun?

    Problem isn't the stuff, it's the people with obsessive personality issues.

  • by davidwr (791652) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @06:58PM (#22495422) Homepage Journal
    Company's lawyerspeak on package: Warning: This product may lead to psychological addiction, not having a life, lack of sleep, and other ill effects.

    Teenage or young adult customer: COOL! I gotta have one of those!
  • by WGFCrafty (1062506) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @06:59PM (#22495450)
    As long as doing something (gaming, gambling, alcohol, drugs) potentiates the production of dopamine, then it has the potential to cause addiction.

    Doing things you enjoy are fun, usually when you're having fun dopamine levels rise significantly in your brain.

    Dopamine is commonly associated with the pleasure system of the brain, providing feelings of enjoyment and reinforcement to motivate a person proactively to perform certain activities. [wikipedia.org]
  • by Doomstalk (629173) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @07:01PM (#22495476)
    Personally, if there's any addictive activity that I think should have a warning associated with it, it's foisting responsibility off on another person or object. Nothing is anyone's fault anymore, it seems.
    • Actually, it's all my fault. Everything I think comes true. I made you say that.

      Joking aside, my above silly statement is an example of Magic Thinking [wikipedia.org]. I always felt it was the opposite of victimization, the idea that everything I think and do affects the world.

      Personally I feel that the concepts of "self" and "other" are illusory. Everything is interconnected. Just by reading this sentence I typed, your brain has been physically altered forever. Addiction is just the result of mental processes,
  • If they're going to put health warnings about the possibility of addiction on casinos, beer and chocolate, to name a few things... or even Qdoba, my own personal demon. ;) That's not even mentioning things that are physiologically addictive. Coffee anyone?
  • June Cleaver: "Ward, I caught Beaver and Wally using a blackberry behind the garage --- What should We do about it?"
    Ward Cleaver: "I'll talk to him about it"

    Later that day

    Ward: "Beaver, your mother said she say you and Wally behind the garage using a blackberry. What do you have to say about yourself?"
    Beav: "Gee dad, Wally and I were just seeing what it was like. All the kids at school have tried blackberries --- Some even use it at school!"
    Ward: "I don't care what the other boys at school are doing. If all
  • Before taking a measure to fix a problem, one should first know whether that measure will actually fix the problem in question. It's not enough to look like you're doing something, real solutions are supported by data. A priori, it seems reasonable that a warning label would discourage people, but people need to read them, think about them, and then decide to follow them. As we see with cigarettes, some people have trouble doing that. There may even be some segment of the population that disobeys warning
    • It protects you from being sued (in some cases). Echoing some of the other comments in the thread, slapping warming labels on stuff that may cause psychological addiction is just silly, as it's really nothing than the want to do something FUN. On the other hand, you have things which are actually chemically addictive, or actually do pose some sort of danger. While one can argue the extent that such labels and warnings should be employed, the very idea that responsible choice requires information, means that
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TopSpin (753) *

      first know whether that measure will actually fix the problem in question

      The problem in question isn't the real problem. Start by discovering the real problem. The real problem is liability. The question will be answered by the massive judgment handed down by some judge and/or jury, forming a precedent mandating a fix, regardless of whether it impacts 'injury' rates. Since almost anyone's life can be valuated into the millions (for the purpose of calculating legal commission or whatever Latin they wrap it in,) by any one of millions of lawyers, the preceding is inevitable.

      It's not enough to look like you're doing something

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Digi-John (692918)

      A priori, it seems reasonable that a warning label would discourage people, but people need to read them, think about them, and then decide to follow them. As we see with cigarettes, some people have trouble doing that.

      So you've just decided that all "normal" people would decide "Hmm, the Surgeon General warned me, better not smoke!", rather than weighing the risks and deciding that the pleasure obtained through smoking was worth it? Remember--a decision is only a smart, *informed* decision if it's the

  • When did they start putting warning labels on fast food? Is fast food addictive?
  • WARNING (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gat0r30y (957941) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @07:07PM (#22495560) Homepage Journal
    Useful tools may be useful. In fact you may find the need to incorporate them into your daily life. Electronic communication tools such as "e-mail" and 'the internets' (A.K.A. the tubes) may also be found to significantly improve productivity. Use with extreme caution.

    Bender: Don't worry I don't have an addictive personality - chugs beer, puffs cigar, jacks on
  • obl. quote (Score:5, Funny)

    by stormguard2099 (1177733) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @07:07PM (#22495566)
    "with a warning label this big you know it's gotta be fun!"

    Warning: this quote is for hardcore fans only. If you can only relate 60% or less of your daily life to a futurama quote then please disregard this post
  • by Otter (3800)
    We don't want to be in a situation in a few years similar to that with fast food or tobacco today.

    Apparently the nanny staters have proceeded to the point where their nonsense about fast food isn't no longer a scare tactic, but the benchmark by which to define some new scare tactic!

  • I'm not sure the problem is the Blackberry. I have one, and far from being addicted to it, I ignore the motherfucker as much as possible.

    Maybe we should just affix a single, generic warning label to everything. "Health Warning: Due to the possibility that you are a thoughtless jackass, unthinking jackassery on your part might arise from use of this object. On the other hand, if you actually are a thoughtless jackass, you probably won't read this warning, or care about it if you do read it. Luckily, it's pre
  • I, like many slashdotters, was a fairly early adopter of computer and internet technology. In the mid 90's I had a couple-year spell of IRC addiction. The I realized what a dumb waste of time it was and got over it.

    I think the general population is just going through a similar phase, now, that many of us went through years ago.

    Of course, there are always those without any common sense who don't realize their lives are being ruined by Crackberries, WoW, or some other thing which isn't really as g
  • similar to that with fast food or tobacco today
    These examples can and do markedly, and sometimes drastically, shorten ones lifespan. I don't know of any tech toy that can do that. Dying from heart disease or lung cancer isn't really the same thing as carpel tunnel syndrome caused by crackberries or loss of hearing from an iPod.
  • As with everything else in life, you should exercise moderation. Anything enjoyable can be addictive, whether it be a drug, sex, video games, or an electronic gadget. It's all in the responsibility of the user/consumer. I'm addicted to Call of Duty and accept full responsibility of a ruined social life.
  • ... is to keep Administrators with fucking retarded ideas like this out of our lives. Perhaps tattooing a warning on there forehead like, "Warning, this is an Administrator and will needlessly complicate and inconvenience your life if only by wasting profound amounts of your time." Well, perhaps more then there forehead, but who cares. They're just Administrators and deserve what they (should) get.
  • "Do not attempt to swallow gaming disk or insert it nasally, into the ear canal or rectally. Oh and using said disk for gaming may be addictive."

    Hey at least they make nice coasters.
  • We can see that warnings just don't work that well. Using a strap that comes attached to a new device that you just got _should_ be intuitive. Nintendo plastered warnings about doing this wherever possible. Yet, a noticeable portion of Wii users still managed to bypass these warnings and do damage, and then complain about said damage.
  • The idea is crap. I don't even know how these ideas get out of someone's mouth without setting warnings off in the brain's "Bad Idea" filter. Like any good programmer, people need to treat warnings as errors and fix them before they infect the whole system.

    As a society, we don't need more babysitting. Leave us the hell alone.

    We're turning into Demolition Man. I can't believe I live in a society that could produce such a poignant story and fail to grasp the meaning of it. Britain wants to ban salt, we'v
  • To equate "habit-forming" to addictive substances in really rude and incosiderate to those who suffer from real addictions like tabacco, alcohol or drugs. These addictions are life threatening, and are biological addictions, not habits.

    Second, are these devices the source of the addiction? Aren't we addicted to what these devices "can do for us", as opposed to, "are". We are addicted to communication, information, and entertainment. Anything that enables these natural pleasures will get used. But to say the
  • There is nothing special about a Blackberry. It is a device that can be used as a phone and a very simplistic internet device. I have one, and it is not even close to the habit forming level of cigarettes, drugs or alcohol. If you need a warning label for a Blackberry then you fail at life.
  • It only appears like an addiction. When actually we just have nothing better to do.
    If work was more fun than playing with our blackberries and iphones and web surfing, we'd be all for it. And we'd be "addicted" to our work.
  • There's a lot of posts about why we shouldn't have warning labels if they don't protect the person, or if the person doesn't listen, etc. I think everyone is missing the point. Warning labels are not about protecting the reader. It's about protecting the person who made the product. I like to think we as a society aren't so stupid as to think warning labels make a difference. Everyone knows they don't. To keep pointing out the obvious that they won't stop anyone from doing something stupid and expecting the
    • by Sloppy (14984)

      I think everyone is missing the point. Warning labels are not about protecting the reader. It's about protecting the person who made the product.

      I think you missed something. Blackberry's legal team isn't saying, "let's put a warning label on our product" as an ass-covering move. The article says that "researchers studying technology addiction" are the ones who are suggesting doing this.

    • by neochubbz (937091) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @10:47PM (#22497868) Homepage
      FYI, That woman was a 79 year old woman who suffered third degree burns, and was only originally suing to cover her medical costs. Keep it in perspective.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonald's_coffee_case [wikipedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Warning labels exist not because a woman was stupid and burned her lap with hot coffee. She was stupid. Everyone knows that. They exist because she decided to sue and wasn't laughed out of court. She wasn't laughed out of court because everyone likes to attack the big companies. Because if yer on a jury with this poor burned woman on one side, and a megacorporation on the other, yer going to make the coorporation pay just because it's the liberal-ish thing to do. And so now companies have to protect themsel
    • by darkfire5252 (760516) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @01:56AM (#22499192)
      Sigh. I get tired of people using the McDonalds coffee lawsuit as an example. Yes, there are lots of frivolous law suits and suing these days, but this case wasn't one of them. A quick google for "mcdonalds coffee sue" turns up a page with the actual facts as the first result. From http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0122-11.htm [commondreams.org] :

      • 79 year old Stella Liebeck suffered third degree burns on her groin and inner thighs while trying to add sugar to her coffee at a McDonalds drive through. Third degree burns are the most serious kind of burn.
      • There were at least 700 previous cases of scalding coffee incidents at McDonalds before Liebeck's case. [Cases implying actual civil claims, not complaints]
      • Lawyers found that McDonalds makes its coffee 30-50 degrees hotter than other restaurants, about 190 degrees. The Shriner Burn Institute had previously warned McDonalds not to serve coffee above 130 degrees. Doctors testified that it only takes 2-7 seconds to cause a third degree burn at 190 degrees.
      • The jury came back with a decision- $160,000 for compensatory damages. But because McDonalds was guilty of "willful, reckless, malicious or wanton conduct" punitive damages were also applied. The jury set the award at $2.7 million, but the judge cut it in half.
      • McDonald's coffee is now sold at the same temperature as most other restaurants.
      So, the woman sued because she suffered severe burns. The jury awarded damages based on the damage she suffered, and then awarded punitive damages because it was clear that McDonalds knewe there was a problem, had seen the consequences of this problem and been warned before, and still did not take the relatively simple corrective measure that would prevent severe burns from their product.

      Company knowingly does potentially harmful act. Act harms woman. Woman sues company. Company is penalized and corrects their behavior. Isn't that exactly how the system is supposed to work?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Shotgun (30919)
        Sigh. I get tire of people trotting out the same old excuses for a stupid woman.

        Get this straight, "You DON'T hold hot coffee between your legs to add sugar while driving a car." Intelligent people refer to such actions as STUPID, usually with an adjunct such as, "You'll spill hot coffee in your lap, knucklehead." Intelligent adults don't look to the court system to pamper them when they do something stupid, like playing with hot coffee in your lap while operating a motor vehicle, especially when you have
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Theaetetus (590071)

      Warning labels exist not because a woman was stupid and burned her lap with hot coffee. She was stupid. Everyone knows that. They exist because she decided to sue and wasn't laughed out of court. She wasn't laughed out of court because everyone likes to attack the big companies. Because if yer on a jury with this poor burned woman on one side, and a megacorporation on the other, yer going to make the coorporation pay just because it's the liberal-ish thing to do. And so now companies have to protect themsel

  • Warning (Score:2, Funny)

    by theeddie55 (982783)
    Posting on slashdot can be addictive please do not over use. If you percieve signs of grammar nazi-ism or trolling, please consult a professional.
  • I'm hopelessly addicted to looking out for everyone else's well being.
  • Anything that has value can be psychologically 'habit' forming. Do people honestly expect to be able to claim "No one warned me that I can become hopelessly dependant on this product!" and be recompensed for their "trouble?".

    Jesus christ, never make a successful product again...anyone...ever.

    Check please, i'm out of the universe.
  • We don't want to be in a situation in a few years similar to that with fast food or tobacco today

    That "situation" is a symptom of human nature. It is not related to fast food or tobacco. Or gadgets. If you don't want that situation, then get to work on engineering Homo Superior.

  • But I like to have addictions the old fashioned way with booze and cigarettes.

    I suppose being addicted to a blackberry would be cheaper and better on my health on the long run, but it just doesn't have that wonderful taste in the mouth after drinking my brains out since 9 in the morning the day before.
  • From myself.

    Stupid nanny state. Grr
  • I mean, I could stop anytime I wanted. Hold on, just let me check my blog stats. Got to give it another 2 mins to update. Ok like I was saying, technology is not addictive, just because I posted to 7 blogs today and responded to 23 comments doesn't mean I have to. Its just something I enjoy. Gotta reply to this txtmsg, BRB. Kay, anyway ooh 2 mins up. Oh yeah 12 more visitors. Where the hell is Riga, Google says Latvia. Hang on, laptop compile is done, sweet. So anyway, damn IM, hell yeah I want to raid. I g
  • Just because some people depend on technology to do things that otherwise would be impossible, things that ignorant luddites don't understand, it does not mean that aforementioned luddites should be allowed to force the idea upon society that those things are bad. This is the same kind of thing as anti-abortion groups running TV commercial announcing "counseling" for nonexistent mental conditions they claim to happen in women after performing an abortion.

    There are plenty of things government can do to impro
  • "All we ask is five hours a day" - slogan from an ABC-TV promotion to the industry in Hollywood around 2002.

    Now that's addictive.

  • Only if you are going to make the dating sites label OCD people as such, and whacko crazy people as such... Hmmm perhaps we can put up big signs outside fundamentalist christian churches that warn of the dangers the present to their members. That might work better than the protests against $cientology?

    Why does EVERYTHING have to have a fscking warning label? Concrete is hard, and you would wear protective equipment when bouncing out of cars onto it. Can we get that engraved instead of water shed grooves?

    Lif
  • Why should we limit absurd warnings to technology? How about a warning on religion?
  • At least it's not marked as disease-causing yet.
  • by chkn0 (773790) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @04:31AM (#22499916)

    Public Service Announcement: Habit-Forming Technologies

    It has come to the attention of this institution that certain technologies and innovations developed over the course of human history may, in retrospect, be habit-forming and could lead to addiction. Citizens are encouraged to exercise caution and restraint in their use of the following list of technologies and are further encouraged to be vigilant for the sake of their friends and family members, lest they become too deeply involved in these potentially dangerous activities.

    Help is available. If you or a loved one, friend, or acquaintance finds himself or herself excessively attached to one or more of these technologies, contact your local branch office of the Ministry of Progress immediately.

    List of recognized potentially habit-forming technologies:

    • Tools
    • Fire
    • Language
    • Clothing
    • Artificial Shelter
    • Domestication of Animals
    • Agriculture
    • Ships
    • Writing
    • Wheels
    • Plumbing
    • Sanitation
    • Lenses
    • Internal combustion engines
    • Refrigeration
    • Electrical distribution
    • Radio
    • Semiconductors

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo. - Andy Finkel, computer guy

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