Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Doc Rock's diagnosis: "You've been smokin' way too many fans"

Fanning out for a full frontal attack...
(Image from Wikipedia)

Yeah, fan death again! No sooner do I deal effectively with some disbeliever or other, but another one pops up -- almost before I can catch my breath!

A certain 'Doc Rock' -- whose name sounds like a queer marriage of irreconcilable differences from DC and Marvel comics (along with Doc Savage in a ménage à trois?) -- rejects my arguments for the truth of fan death. Like most such disbelievers, his opening shot is a bit of ad hominem:
You've been smokin' way too many fans, I think.
He thinks? And what sort of 'thought' is this? While electric fans can overheat and smoke -- and that's another of the many dangers that they pose -- to suggest that I've actually been smoking electric fans is surely the most absurd charge laid against me and my defense of fan death. How, pray tell, does one (in the transitive sense of the word) 'smoke' a fan? We're not talking here of those paltry hand fans that folks wave about in a futile attempt to cool themselves down as they heat themselves up. A paper fan of that sort could, I acknowledge, be ground up into tiny bits and smoked, and if the paper were made from the plant Cannabis sativa, then Doc Rock's personal attack might have a point.

But no, we're talking here of electric fans. Fan made of plastic and steel. Who in his or her right mind would ever attempt to smoke such machinery? Does Doc Rock think that I'm crazy!? Am I being accused of lunacy by yet another fan death skeptic? But let's see what else the good doctor has to say:
I'm 66 and grew up without airconditioning. We had fans in every room and slept with doors CLOSED!!!! I have fans in almost every room in my house and we are all still going. The only basis for this insanity is the power of urban legend and the paucity of science education.
Sixty-six? Really? Does the photo here look like that of a 66-year-old man? Not to my eyes -- nor, I suspect, to your own.

Be that as it may, for the doctor's information, I also grew up without air conditioning -- and a good thing, too, for every air conditioner comes equipped with a fan! There's really no difference, scientifically, between using a fan and using an air conditioner. Both can kill you.

But let's consider Doc Rock's other points. He claims to have grown up with fans in every room. Really? Does that include closets? They are also rooms. And was every single door truly closed? Tightly? And sealed? If fans were not really on in every room, and if every room were not truly closed and sealed airtight, then the fans' effect and the Doc's argument are both seriously weakened. Note that he even admits that these days, he only has "fans in almost every room" (emphasis mine). Almost is not every! And why not every room? Does the doctor perhaps, subconsciously, in fact recognize the grave danger? Yet even if not on in every room, those fans nevetheless pose a threat to the health of him and his family. Illness can strike at any moment, even to those who brag that they are "still going" even as their fans are still going.

And at this point in his argument, Doc Rock's better judgement takes over, for concerning his own practice of having a house full of fans going full blast, he says:
"The only basis for this insanity is the power of urban legend and the paucity of science education."
I agree with the doctor's self-diagnosis. Having fans on in almost every room in one's house is insane. I was unaware of any urban legends about the harmlessness of having so many fans running (are their whirling blades supposed to set up interference patterns that cancel each other out?), but the doctor is surely right about "the paucity of science education" that lies behind people's ignorance of fan death. Americans are prescientific compared to Koreans, who attain some of the highest math and science scores in the world and who lead the world in such cutting-edge scientific research as cloning technology. Should we be surprised, then, when Koreans are the first to recognize the dire, indeed fatal effects of fans?

Fan death. A scientific fact established in Korea.

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At 7:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doc Rock should be cognizant of something the son of a doctor practicing in the Ozarks once heard an unbelieving relative of a recently deceased say:

"But doc! He was healthy until he died!"


At 7:29 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, I hope that you were able to contain your impulse to laugh at that moment. I doubt that I would have...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't recognize the humor until some years later. But I do remember precisely when I did. The doctors son was watching an episode of Hee Haw. There was a recurring skit where a person comes in to Doc Archie and say's "Doc, it hurts when I do this."

Always the same prescription: "well don't do that." It's much the same with fan death, one never knows the danger til Death (who drives a VW) picks up another hitchhiker going somewhere.


At 9:23 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"Der Tod ist ein Meister aus Deutschland." - Paul Celan

Perhaps Herr Celan recognized the danger of the Volkswagen. Who knows where those cars go as they pass beyond sight around a bend in the tracks...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:42 AM, Blogger NOBODY said...

Gypsy Scholar,

This is my first post here. While I do believe that fans contributed to the deaths of many Koreans sleeping in old Ondol type houses, (carbon monoxide being the true killer) I cannot fathom what still brings anyone these days to the realization that a fan, in and of itself is capable of draining a room of oxygen and thereby killing unsuspecting occupants of that room. As I write this, I am sitting in a room here in my house in the Philippines which I sleep in every night, buttoned up as tight as I can get it with my air conditioning going as high as my wife can stand it. We've been sleeping basically the same way for over 4 years now. Are you telling me that it is just random chance that we are not all dead by now?

I also did the same thing every summer that I was in Korea. I lived in Korea for almost 12 year all together and here at 45 years old I'm still alive and kicking.

As I said in the beginning, fans probably did CONTRIBUTE to the deaths of many Koreans living in old, poorly ventilated, Ondol heated houses, years ago but now??? Well, let's just say I'm a firm skeptic on this theory nowadays.

At 6:54 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Exkorling, thanks for the remarks. As for this:

"Are you telling me that it is just random chance that we are not all dead by now?"

I suppose I could keep up the pretense that this is what I'm up to, but if you read me carefully in this blog entry (and my other entries on fan death), you'll probably conclude the opposite.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:08 AM, Blogger NOBODY said...


Told you I was a first time poster. Guess I should do my research and not read early in the morning before my brain gets engaged really good. Thanks for setting me straight the easy way.

Tim in Angeles sendzzzzzzzzzzzzz

At 7:13 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Tim in Angeles, good to hear from you again. I enjoy defending the so-called 'fan death' by dreaming up the most ridiculous arguments 'proving' its truth. I must sound rather sincere, for a lot of folks do take me seriously.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:53 PM, Blogger Doc Rock said...

From Snopes with love:

Doc Rock

At 4:32 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Doc Rock, thanks for the extra details on Fan Death.

You might want to check this out: Esquire Magazine Presents: Professor Jeffery Hodges, Fan-Death Expert .

Also, learn how to embed links in comments so that they don't get cut off and are easier to use.

Jeffery Hodges

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