My Apologies for An Inacurate Picture

November 7th, 2012
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Some time ago, I wrote a post about coal miners and the danger of “black lung disease.” The assertion and content of the post was accurate and I stand behind it.  Indeed, miners, even in modern coal mines do face an alarmingly high incidence of respiratory illness due to their work conditions.

However, one of the images and the caption I added were not accurate.  Here is the image as it appeared:

The image in question is one which I found on several websites using Google’s image search.  As it appeared in many non-cited examples, I believed it was likely an image that was either public domain or for which the original copyright owner was not attempting to control its distribution.   I also believed it was a West Virginia miner, as it was cited as such on more than one page.

This does not seem to be the case.  It has been brought to my attention that the miner in question is probably from Poland or elsewhere in Eastern Europe and that the image does not depict mine work as it normally is practiced in the US.  Also, he is not wearing a two-way radio, but more likely has a battery pack for a helmet-mounted lamp.  Thus, the picture could easily be decades old.

While I cannot verify the original source, I now accept that this is not a picture of a recent US miner and does not depict how coal mining typically occurs in the US.   United States miners do indeed have much more protection than this, although it is not adequate to stop all cases of respiratory disease from occupational exposure to coal or rock dust.

I apologize for this error and for the sloppiness in verifying the image.  I have been critical of the press for using inaccurate images before, and clearly I should not be doing so myself.   I take full responsibility for failure to exercise appropriate skepticism and verify all information.

I would like to say that this will never happen again, but I can’t do that with 100% certainty.  As a human, I am certainly prone to making such mistakes from time to time and I do not have the benefit of fact-checking editors.   However, I will certainly make an effort to avoid future errors.   Should I make one, please bring it to my attention in the comments or by e-mail.

Sorry again.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 at 4:39 pm and is filed under Bad Science, personal, Website. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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5 Responses to “My Apologies for An Inacurate Picture”

  1. 1
    James Greenidge Says:

    You were totally sincere and even bothered to recheck so don’t steep in apology. In an age of instant global iPhone photography and Photoshop and identity theft and hijacking and when you can’t be sure any image said to be public domain is, there’s an untapped need for internet image verification and identification.

    Keep up the great work!

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY


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  2. 2
    DV82XL Says:

    What James said…


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  3. 3
    TomT Says:

    You found out there might be a problem with the attribution of a picture you used. You researched it and having decided the question was valid you posted a correction regarding the photo. Go Dr. B.


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  4. 4
    Matte Says:

    Kudos for pointing out your honest mistake Dr. B!

    However I feel the image is quite representative of the coalmining industry (if perhaps a bit extreme). I have never seen a coal miner who is leaving his work after a shift with a clean area around his nose and mouth, which would otherwise indicate the correct use of a facemask durigng work.

    But on the other hand, the coal miners are a small subset of the people who are impacted by the industry. The number of communities affected is growing and will continue to do so as mining practices become more and more agressive (mountaintop mining etc.). The environmental polution and groundwater poisoning is a serious matter but is ignored by the EPA for some reason…


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  5. 5
    Christopher Willis Says:

    There is an article about chinese coal production that shows a miner not for from this image.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20002801

    Coal is making a come back, sadly so.

    http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/12/11/23/168208/the-world-falls-back-in-love-with-coal


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