Dozens of general news sites are carrying some variation of this “an iPhone saved his life!” story today. They problem is, that story probably isn’t exactly true:

A 25-year-old man who was shot in the chest is alive, thanks to an Apple iPhone he had in his pocket.
Nineteen-year-old Ryan Duggan has been found guilty of attempted murder after shooting a man in Cheshire County, England.

The victim was walking home at about 8:30 p.m. in October 2014 after taking his dog for a walk. When he came home, he noticed the water at his apartment had been turned off, according to a news release from Cheshire police.

The victim suspected a group outside, which Duggan was a part of, was responsible for turning off the water and went out to speak to them, resulting in a verbal altercation and a chase. During the chase, Duggan pulled out a sawed-off shotgun and fired it at the victim, according to the news release.
The victim fell to the floor after sustaining serious injuries and was taken to Aintree Hospital in serious condition.

But an iPhone in his pocket may be the reason he survived.

Um…. No. Probably not.

If you look at the phone itself, it did take the brunt of a relatively close-range shotgun blast, but what likely saved the victim’s life wasn’t the iPhone in his pocket. So what really saved the life of Daniel Kennedy?

I think that you have to look at the size of the shot itself.

I know some who (thankfully) survived a 12-gauge shotgun blast to the head at close range in a horrific hunting accident because the birdshot in the shotgun didn’t have sufficient mass to penetrate his skull. There are numerous stories—some apocryphal, some quite well-documented—of people being shot in the head, chest, back or sides with birdshot loads in every gauge imaginable, leaving messy but relatively shallow and survivable wounds.

I don’t think there is any doubt that the plastic case of the iPhone 5C in Mr. Kennedy’s pocket helped slow the pellets, but I’d be willing to bet that his jacket holding the iPhone, his shirt or sweater underneath, his epidermis, and especially his ribs did far more to keep the light shot from penetrating deeply. Other pellets missed the phone completely, and they didn’t penetrate his vitals, either.

So why do stories like this get legs?

Frankly, I think is falls back on “magical thinking,” and a desire of those who refuse to defend themselves that they don’t need to be armed in their own defense. If they convince themselves that a talisman of some sort can protect them from evil—like a “bulletproof” smart phone—then they don’t have to get serious about participating in their own self defense.

Develop an actual defensive strategy. Make smart decisions, such as not chasing area gang members. Learn how to take care of yourself.

Don’t trust your life to little more than wishes, magical thinking, or the cases of cheap plastic phones.