Fish saga on PBS

Paul Greenberg looks out at an anchoveta fleet in Peru. The fish is mostly ground up for use as feed on animal and fish farms.
Courtesy of FRONTLINE

Man spent a year eating no meat but fish with all its Omega 3 fatty acids and by the end he looked and felt great
But the medicine men told him tests showed he had no higher levels of OM3 than before. But much higher levels of mercury.
So he didn’t know what to think.
He made a documentary about saving wild salmon etc though, and his audience on PBS last night (Apr 25 Tues 2017) knew what to do.
Eat fish. Why do you think the Japanese are is such good shape?
He however thought he deserved a hamburger and ate that.
Sponsors came back, all was forgiven.

“Q&A: Why Paul Greenberg Spent a Year of His Life Eating Fish

APRIL 25, 2017 / by JASON M. BRESLOW
Imagine eating fish, every day, for a year. What would that mean for your health?

It’s a question that journalist Paul Greenberg set out to investigate in the new FRONTLINE documentary, The Fish on My Plate.

Greenberg, the best-selling author of American Catch and Four Fish, says this unique one-man study was motivated by a desire to understand which fish are “good for me and good for the planet.”

A lifelong fisherman, Greenberg began casting lines with his father when he was just five years old. From a young age, he says, he began to understand that overfishing carried far-reaching environmental implications.

Today, more than four decades later, global fish consumption is at an all-time high, with growing demand increasingly depleting natural fisheries. As Greenberg notes, “We’re producing about 80 to 90 million metric tons of wild seafood every year from the ocean … that is equivalent to the human weight of China.” Fish farming — or aquaculture — is helping to fill the void, yet critics say the practice creates more problems than it solves.

In “The Fish on My Plate,” author and fisherman Paul Greenberg sets out to answer the question “what fish should I eat that’s good for me and good for the planet?” As part of his quest to investigate the health of the ocean — and his own — Greenberg spent a year eating seafood at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Courtesy of FRONTLINE

Frontline: Ahead of the April 24 premiere of The Fish on My Plate, we spoke with Greenberg about lessons learned from his year of eating fish, why he says “we’re going to have to change the kinds of seafood that we eat,” and why he calls the omega-3s found in fish oil the “Forrest Gump” of molecules. Here’s what he had to say.

Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

One whole year of eating seafood for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That’s a lot of fish. What motivated you to take this experiment on?

I’ve been writing about fish and seafood for over 10 years now, and you can’t get away from the fact that fish is always held up as “the healthy food.” I also heard epidemiological evidence [showing that] fish eating societies seem to have lower rates of the so-called Western diseases — lower rates of heart disease, there’s some evidence of higher cognition among certain populations, better test scores, that sort of thing. So I just thought, what if I were to really take on the diet of somebody — almost like a Pacific islander — and really make fish the central part of my diet? I wanted to see if I would register some sort of effect, either in my cardiac health or in my mental health.

I’m sure you must get asked you all the time, “What type of fish should I be eating?” If there’s one thing I learned from The Fish on My Plate, that’s not so simple to answer. But are there some general things you suggest people consider when they’re ordering seafood at a restaurant or buying at the supermarket?

I think first of all, the number-one question is: Where did the fish come from? And does the person who is selling your fish have a good handle on that? I on occasion torture waiters and ask them to identify where their fish is from, and if they have to go back to the kitchen more than once, then I know that there’s a serious amount of confusion. So traceability is really important. Greenpeace actually puts out an annual report called CATO. It stands for “Carting Away the Oceans,” and whatever you may think of Greenpeace, at least they took some time to evaluate supermarkets on their buying and purchasing policies. In that report, paramount to really determining what was or was not sustainable, was whether or not a supermarket had a traceability program in place.

Beyond that, there’s certain go-to fish that I usually go to because I know that they are high in omega-3s and they fall within my budget. Quite often, I will buy Alaskan wild sockeye salmon. People always say, “Oh salmon, it’s so expensive.” The place where you get into trouble with wild salmon is when you start going to the fresh fish counter, where you’ll start seeing $15, $20, $25 a pound. But in fact, outside of wild salmon season from June to August, fish you’re going to see on the counter has usually been defrosted. It makes much more sense to go to the frozen food bin and get those nice vacuumed-packed Alaska sockeye salmon that usually come in around $10 a pound. It’s boneless, it’s portioned out, and because it’s been frozen the moment the fish comes out of the water, you can bet that it’s going to have a higher quality than the fish that’s been defrosted and is laying out at the fresh seafood counter.

In terms of the health benefits of a diet rich in omega-3s, what do we know about where the science is? You’re working on a new book about this, The Omega Principle. What have you learned so far?

What I’ve found is that the randomized control trials, which are the gold standard in medical research, those kind of gold-standard trials have often found inconclusive results.

On the other hand, observational studies, which tend to include many more subjects over much longer periods of time, do show more significant effects. For example, there was a study published in the journal Nature, I think it was in 2016, that showed a 6 percent reduction in risk of cardiac death. Now, it’s a little bit comparing apples and oranges with randomized control trials and observational studies, but I do think that the omega-3 people do at least have a leg to stand on in saying that there is evidence outside of randomized control trials that seems to suggest an association with cardiac benefit.

Then there’s the whole issue of mental health. This is still an emerging field. The human brain is 25 percent DHA omega-3 fatty acid. It’s part of the brain. So, the real question becomes, if it’s part of us, if we have more of it, [is that] better? And I think that’s where people are struggling to show effect.

The thing I’ve decided is that omega-3 is the “Forrest Gump” molecule, in that it shows up at key moments in epidemiological history and evolutionary history. You’re not quite sure what it’s doing there, but it’s there. So, I’m trying to write this book from that perspective.

Paul Greenberg (left) with his father, Harvey, after a fishing trip in 1984 on Martha’s Vineyard. (Courtesy of Paul Greenberg)
Your research took you all around the world, from Peru, to Norway, to Alaska and even the waters of the Long Island Sound where you first learned to fish. What did you learn about our overfishing problem, and what does the future look like for aquaculture, which is controversial in its own right.

We have reached a point where we have topped out what the ocean can produce, at least in its present compromised state. Right now, we’re producing about 80 to 90 million metric tons of wild seafood every year from the ocean, and that is equivalent to the human weight of China taken out of the ocean each and every year.

The estimates are that if we were to rebuild every overfished fish stock out there, we might get another 10 to 15 million metric tons. When you look at the graph of protein consumption in the world, you can see that that’s not going to cut it, especially if fish is going to be a major part of our diets. [It’s] just plain and simple math — you have to have aquaculture.

I do think aquaculture should exist, but I think in the early days of aquaculture we had a model that I would call “delete and replace.” If you look at salmon, for example, in the Atlantic, we lost huge amounts of Atlantic salmon populations by damming the rivers where they spawned, but also overfishing them. And then no sooner did those numbers decline that they were replaced by farmed salmon in the same bays and fjords where wild salmon would have migrated to.

So, we don’t want any more delete and replace. We need to figure out a way to have aquaculture be a net source of marine protein, and we’re on the edge right now. In the film, we go to Peru, we look at the Peruvian anchoveta as the largest fishery in the world, but 99 percent of it is used as animal feed. So, to me, that’s a little bit of an outdated model. And since there are increasing models for making feed that doesn’t involve the use of wild fish, I think that we’re on the verge of having a truly net-gaining form of aquaculture available to us.

When you speak to policy experts, what are the solutions they point to for reversing — or at least minimizing — the damage from overfishing in the meantime?

The solution that has worked in many cases is limited entry fisheries. In other words, you try to define how many catchable tons of fish there are out there in a given species with a given stock in a given area. And then, in advance of the fishing season, to divide up that “surplus” — the fish you can harvest and still expect to have the same amount of fish the following year — amongst a pre-recognized number of fishermen, and then fishermen must stop fishing when they’ve caught their individual quota. I should note, this is an extremely controversial thing within fishing communities.

In other fisheries, they have what’s called “observer coverage” — people actually on the vessels who are not fishermen, who are recording the catch and where there’s just a general culture of compliance. That’s another thing which is hard to achieve. Healthy abundant fisheries tend to breed cultures of compliance, whereas overfished, mistreated fisheries, everyone’s trying to eke out their share and are more prone to bad behavior.

The Maine lobster fishery is an example of an excellent fishery. It’s doing very well, it’s very productive. In the Maine fishery, spawning females must always be returned to the water if they end up in your trap. Lobsters above a certain size, females above a certain size, must always be returned. So, if you could do that with fin fish, you could probably solve the overfishing problem, because you’d always be putting back the big females.

There’s a tongue-in-cheek fisheries term, “a BOFFF,” which stands for big old fat female fish. The gold standard for fisheries is to keep the BOFFF in the water. Big old fat female fish have been shown to have more eggs and higher quality eggs, and if you can preserve the spawning females, you can actually do a lot to protect the fishery. But it’s hard to do that if you’re dragging a trawl net through Georgia’s banks. I mean, how do you pick out the big old fat female fish and put them aside? There are some places on the West Coast where they’re doing trap fisheries, where you literally trap things like sable fish. You could release the big fat female fish in a fishery like that, but that’s a whole other set of gear. Fisherman have already invested so much in their gear that to change it is probably difficulty.

“We have reached a point where we have topped out what the ocean can produce, at least in its present compromised state.”
Aside from some of these policy considerations, are there broader questions we should be asking as a society about our relationship to the ocean and whether we can catch seafood in a more responsible way?

Yes, but I actually think the answer lies beyond the question of seafood only. We tend to look at the seafood system as a discrete system that’s somehow separate from the larger food system. But I would argue that if you look at all of our food systems, aquaculture is much more carbon efficient, water efficient, fuel efficient, than almost any land animal agriculture or animal husbandry. So, right there, if we were to step back and say “Huh, let’s not just try to get our fishing under control and our aquaculture under control, let’s try to get our land food production under control.” Because in the end, if you’re producing a lot of cows and pigs and chickens, that requires a lot of corn, which in turn requires a lot of nitrogen fertilizer, which goes into our water ways, which in turn degrades our fisheries.

As far as getting more seafood onto our plate and to make it more a part of our diet, we’re going to have to change the kinds of seafood that we eat on a regular basis. The absolute no-brainer when it comes to seafood is bivalves — clams, mussels, oysters, as well as sea vegetables such as kelp and so forth. Those creatures require no inputs in terms of fertilizer. They actually clean the water while they grow and they’re very low carbon to harvest — particularly mussels — but not everyone loves them. Something’s got to give.

The other thing is that we need to figure out a national aquaculture policy for the country. We are right now 15th in terms of total tons of aquaculture produced. Meanwhile, we have the second largest seafood footprint in the world. So, we’re not doing our share. A lot of that is that we just don’t seem to be able to resolve our NIMBY issues. Nobody wants to have a mussel farm or a fish farm in their view shed. So, we need to figure that out and we need to figure it out in a way that’s fair to fish consumers but also fair to landowners.

How often are you eating seafood now?

I definitely backed off. I actually liked having seafood in my diet, and I have to say, I felt better eating fish. There’s this funny little quirk of when you decide to eat fish all the time, particularly when you go out to dinner, when you order the fish on the menu, the fish always comes with healthier stuff. Like if you order steak, it comes with French fries, but if you order salmon, it comes with broccoli.

I haven’t been eating as much fish now. I did end up with pretty high mercury levels and that did spook me. There’s a little bit of mercury in most seafood, and if you’re eating it as often as I was eating it, it’s going to add up. I didn’t notice any symptoms, but it spooked me. I’m kind of in a reset mode right now, where I’d like to have seafood be a major part of my diet for all the reasons I said — I think it’s an environmentally sound way of getting protein if you do it in the right way — but I would like to figure out what’s the upper level that I can push, and with which seafood, so that I can achieve a mercury level that is acceptable to me.

What surprised you the most in making this film?

My attitudinal change about seafood. Previously, you go into the super market and you’re like, “Huh what’s for dinner tonight? Is it going to be the red steak or the white chicken?” But when you cut all of that away, when the meat department is no longer a purview, you go to the seafood counter or to the frozen section, and you realize there’s actually quite a large selection and that you can have variety in your life. If you don’t just think about it as fish, but as, “Oh, I could have mussels, I could have salmon, I could have tilapia, I could have haddock,” those flavors tend to annunciate themselves once you’ve fine-tuned yourself. When you really engage in a big way, you develop a better appreciation of the subtleties of seafood.”

“Fish saga on PBS

Man spent a year eating no meat but fish with all its Omega 3 fatty acids and by the end he looked and felt great

But the medicine men told him tests showed he had no higher levels of OM3 than before, but much more mercury.

So he didn’t know what to think.

He made a documentary about saving wild salmon etc though, and his audience on PBS last night knew what to do.

Eat fish. Why do you think the Japanese are is such good shape?

He however thought he deserved a hamburger and ate that.

Sponsors came back, all was forgiven.

The Fish on My Plate

What Fish Is Good For Me And The Planet? New Documentary Explores

April 24, 20174:52 PM ET
NATALIE JACEWICZ

In “The Fish on My Plate,” author and fisherman Paul Greenberg sets out to answer the question “what fish should I eat that’s good for me and good for the planet?” As part of his quest to investigate the health of the ocean — and his own — Greenberg spent a year eating seafood at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Courtesy of FRONTLINE
Facts about the virtues of eating fish can be slippery. On the one hand, fish provide protein and omega-3 fatty acids, the substance in fish oil supplements, which is thought to boost cognitive health. Plus, unlike cows, fish don’t belch vast amounts of the greenhouse gas methane into the air. So, fish should be good for your health and the environment. But the science of omega-3 benefits is far from settled, and as fish farming grows to keep up with global demand, the industry is raising new questions about environmental sustainability.

New York Times bestselling author and avid fisherman Paul Greenberg wanted to learn more about how eating fish can change human health and the world’s marine environments. He ate fish every day for a year to see how it would affect his health and traveled around the world to learn more about the challenges of fish farming. His experience is captured in a FRONTLINE documentary called The Fish on My Plate airing Tuesday. (You can also watch it online.)

We watched the film and talked with Greenberg about what he learned while making this documentary. The conversation is edited for clarity and concision.

As a fisherman who enjoys catching food from the wild, do you think we need fish farming?

If everyone’s going to be a vegan, no, we don’t need fish farming. If we want to have animal protein in our lives, then yes, I think we do need it. People often compare wild fish to farmed fish, but what we should really be doing is comparing fish to other forms of protein. Because things like beef really are a tremendous burden on the planet in terms of resources, we’re never going to get to the place where everybody on the planet can eat beef. But I do think we’ll get to a place where everybody can eat mussels.

‘The Great Fish Swap’: How America Is Downgrading Its Seafood Supply
THE SALT
‘The Great Fish Swap’: How America Is Downgrading Its Seafood Supply
Only eating wild fish doesn’t work with the equation right now. We’re catching 80-90 million metric tons of wild fish per year, and that’s not going to meet the protein needs of the world, plus it’s putting a lot of pressure on fish populations. I’d rather see that need met through aquaculture [fish farming] than through more beef, pigs or chickens.

What makes a fish a good candidate for aquaculture?

Some criteria are a general adaptability to confinement, a resistance to disease, the ability to produce a lot of offspring, and fast growth. And you see fish with these traits rising to the top of fish farming. Take tilapia. It grows very fast, from an egg to an adult in nine months, whereas a salmon can take 2-3 years.

That said, people like some fish more than others. So there are efforts in aquaculture to tame certain fish [like salmon] because there’s a market for it, not because they’re the best suited for farming.

The film shows that fish farming is far from perfect. What are the biggest challenges facing fish farming?

It’s what the farmed fish eat and where they live.

We tend to prefer carnivorous fish like salmon, and they like to eat other fish. So roughly 20 million metric tons per year — a quarter to a fifth of the global catch — goes into catching fish like anchovies that are ground up and fed to other fish. Salmon farming has become more efficient over the years through selective breeding and improved farming techniques. It used to take six pounds of wild fish to produce one pound of farmed salmon; now it takes less than two pounds of wild fish. But at the same time, the amount of farmed salmon that we’re growing is increasing, so the pressure on these small wild fish continues.

This problem is being worked out in techniques using other food sources, like fishery byproducts that would have been thrown out anyway, algae, or soldier flies, for example, to make fish feed.

What’s the problem with where fish farms are located?

This is a thornier issue. Any time you aggregate large amounts of livestock in an area, you’re going to attract disease. In the case of salmon, the most famous disease is a parasite called a sea louse. When wild salmon swim past farms, the sea lice can infect them. If a juvenile salmon gets more than 10 sea lice, it will die.

The other issue is that if you have a lot of animals poop in one place, you can have nitrate overload, and cause algal blooms in the marine environment. So there are lots of people who would like to see fish farms taken out of the ocean entirely and moved to a tank.

The documentary goes through a lot of potential solutions. What do you think the most promising ones are?

The no-brainer is that we should eat more kelp and mussels, because they just filter water and get their nutrients without being fed. But of course not everybody likes mussels or kelp.

Farmed fish can be acceptable, if we’re getting more protein out of it than we’re losing to disease and fish feed. I’m not sure if anyone has run the numbers. The issue is that if consumers aren’t aware of all of the options for farmed fish out there, they’ll just go with what’s cheapest. I did come across a farm in Norway where they were stocking fish less densely. To feed the fish, they were using offcuts of other fisheries, instead of directly harvested wild fish. And they were trying to address the sea lice problem with a fish called a lumpsucker that eats the lice [instead of using medicine to kill them, which can kill some other forms of sea life like shrimp as well].

Lumpsuckers are so cute!

They are cute. There’s an extended scene that got cut from the documentary where I kept trying to get a lumpsucker — [which has adhesive discs on its chest] — to stick to my forehead. I couldn’t get it to.

You already knew a lot about fish when you started making this documentary. Is there anything you learned that surprised you?

One thing I learned is that about a third of wild salmon in Alaska start their lives in a hatchery. They’re hatched [by private nonprofits and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game] to boost the productivity of rivers. It’s an issue that comes up because the salmon farming community competes with Alaskan fishers for consumers. When farmers get a lot of heat from the Alaskan wild fishing community, the farming community will say, “Hey, you’re just ranching salmon. You’re doing aquaculture, but you’re not calling it aquaculture.”

I knew a little bit about the hatcheries, but I’d never heard the Alaskan fisher’s side of things. The fishers said that often these salmon are being introduced into inlands that never had salmon to begin with, so these salmon aren’t competing with wild-born salmon, and really are supplementing the population.

What is better for the environment – farmed or wild salmon? The new Frontline documentary, The Fish On My Plate, tries to answer that question in this clip.
Courtesy Paul Greenberg YouTube
Now let’s switch to the more personal part of the documentary. You ditched land meat and ate fish every day for a year to see how the diet would affect your health. Specifically, you were interested in getting a higher level of omega-3s. What are omega-3s?

Omega-3 is a fatty acid, a long hydrocarbon chain with a double bond at the third spot from the end, which seems to make it particularly bendy and adaptable to serving multiple purposes in the cell. It is the Forrest Gump of molecules.

How so?

Whenever an important health issue comes up, so does omega-3. But we’re never quite sure what it does. When people first started talking about it in the 70s, everyone got very excited because a study found a correlation between omega 3-s and low levels of heart disease. Since then, we’ve gotten statins, we’ve gotten angioplasty — all these ways of dealing with heart disease. So we’re not as focused on how, if at all, omega-3s affect heart health anymore.

What we worry about now is dementia. So now everyone’s obsessed with omega-3’s neurological effects. And of course we’re obsessed with our children and how smart they are, so we want them getting enough omega-3s. [Click here for a study The Salt covered about the effect of omega-3s on brain functioning.]

What is it like to eat fish for a whole year? Did you get sick of it?

I got sick of it at the beginning, but then I broke through. Two things happened: First, once the meat section of the supermarket became a no-fly zone, instead of looking at fish as one of four options — chicken, beef, pork, or fish — I started to see fish as containing many options within its self-contained world. There was one that might be nice broiled, or another that might be nice with a sage sauce, and another that might be brought out by rosemary. It led me to a much more diverse approach to cooking fish.

The other thing that happened with eating fish all the time is that I lost weight. Now, there’s a confounding factor: When you go to a restaurant, the fish always comes with the healthy stuff. If you order the steak, it comes with fries, but if you order the salmon, you get some nice steamed broccoli. So I don’t necessarily contribute the weight loss to the fish but to leading me to healthier patterns of eating.

We’ll let people watch the documentary to see how your health is affected by eating fish for a year. Given what you learned while making the film, what’s your approach to eating fish going forward?

So, people will see in the film that I get some disturbing results regarding my mercury levels at the end of a year. [Large amounts of mercury released from coal-powered plants ends up in the oceans and eventually, in marine organisms, including fish.]

I’m not a child or a woman of childbearing age, so I can be a little cavalier with my mercury levels. But I’ve backed away from eating fish every day. I’ve probably backed down to three or four times per week, which is still double what the average American eats. And I try to eat more mussels.

Any fish recipe recommendations?

I had a really intense embrace of the anchovy, particularly the Peruvian anchoveta, 90 percent of which is ground up and fed to pigs, chickens and farmed fish. But it’s a really good source of protein and omega-3s.

When we went to Peru for the film, we went to a cannery in the south. They were so excited someone wanted to eat the fish as opposed to grind them up, that they gave me a 10-lb container of anchovies. I found anchovies are good in an omelet. And a piece of sourdough with free-range butter and anchovies: delicious.

Natalie Jacewicz is a science writer living in New York City.”http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/qa-why-paul-greenberg-spent-a-year-of-his-life-eating-fish/

The Fish on My Plate

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Paul Kammerer Come Back – All is Forgiven!

Poor Kammerer – was it a love affair or the group reject effect that drove him to suicide after he had proved evidence of post-Darwin evolution?


Novel research? Suicide may be premature

If you can wait a century maybe you will be vindicated

Re-examination suggests Paul Kammerer’s scientific ‘fraud’ was a genuine discovery of epigenetic inheritance
https://m.phys.org/news/2016-10-re-examination-paul-kammerer-scientific-fraud.html#

“It is no secret that even today, the “inheritance of acquired characteristics” is often treated as an impossibility, supposedly discarded by experiments such as the amputation of the tail of mice during successive generations, which never leads to mice being born without tails. It was argued that no special mechanism existed by which environmental change could directly modify inheritance, and that every apparent case could be ultimately explained by indirect effects of natural selection and conventional genetics. But these views started to change drastically since the 1990’s, along with the progress in techniques to study molecular genetics. These uncovered several molecular mechanisms, such as DNA methylation, that could directly change inheritance in response to the environment. The modern field of epigenetics studies those changes in gene expression that do not involve a mutation, but are nevertheless inherited in absence of the signal or event that initiated the change. During the 21st century, experiments in mice have reported such inheritable modifications, identifying the relevant genes that have been altered by epigenetic mechanisms.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2016-10-re-examination-paul-kammerer-scientific-fraud.html#jCp”

The Encyclopedia Britannica may only repeat the discredited idea without reexamination, however:

“The theory of acquired traits is not supported by science, and Kammerer’s claim to have proved it met with a great deal of criticism.”

Accessed Feb 24 Sat 2017
“Paul Kammerer
AUSTRIAN BIOLOGIST
WRITTEN BY: The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica
LAST UPDATED: 11-13-2007 See Article History
Paul Kammerer
AUSTRIAN BIOLOGIST
BORN
August 17, 1880
Vienna, Austria
DIED
September 23, 1926
Puchberg, Germany

Click for rest
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Come back Lamarck, all is forgiven!

Lamarck vs Darwin - were they both right?

Lamarck vs Darwin – were they both right?

Nice episode on NPR Sat Science show Radiolab noon-1pm 93.9 FM finally bringing to the public in general the rehabilitation of Lamarck’s reputation for guessing that nurture can change the way the body grows and operates, and that Darwin’s mutation isn’t enough to create the rapid changes we see in adapting to the environment in animals and humans generation to generation.

In other words, evolution can happen rapidly through the environment including your friends’ and family’s behavior and its action on how genes are expressed. (Unfortunately it may take many years to work on an unsatisfactory mate – divorce is a lot quicker!)

Don’t tell the AMNH! They have always been terrified of letting the window open for the demons of creationism to come in and say you don’t need just Darwin, you need God to design humans and other creatures better. So their Darwin exhibition a while back in the 2000s resolutely ignored all this stuff, which is now the mainspring of so much research into epigenetics, the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself.

http://www.radiolab.org/story/251876-inheritance/
http://www.radiolab.org/story/251885-you-are-what-your-grandpa-eats/
http://www.radiolab.org/story/251887-what-if-no-destiny/

Lamarck comments
http://www.radiolab.org/story/251884-leaving-lamarck/#commentlist

http://www.radiolab.org/story/251884-leaving-lamarck/

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Tap Water Runs These Clocks – But How?

Bedol pioneered good looking battery free timepieces

Travel clock and Smiley are two nice designs

But how do they work?

Batteries for small items like clocks are a small but annoying drain on the housekeeping budget and shopping time, but a small number of makers now supply clocks which can run on water for five years or even longer.

Two of the best designs are from Bedol, the Traveler Alarm and the Smiley Alarm, available direct from Bedol in California, and they will run for years with merely topping up with tapwater occasionally – with six months or even longer between refills (we tested three versions for six years and found two lasted for five years and one is still going strong).

The $16 Bedol Traveler Alarm Clock is well executed efficiency and simplicity in a form suitable for executive travel and the $39 Smiley, available in various attractive colors, is one large water drop in theme, a warm hearted bulge appropriate for bathroom or even bedroom.

 Efficient simplicity is married to economy in the Bedol Travel Clock which will run seemingly forever on tap water.

Efficient simplicity is married to economy in the Bedol Travel Clock which will run seemingly forever on tap water.

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The Bedol Water Alarm Clock Traveler.

This travel sized timepiece not only runs on all natural ingredients, it also does its part to reduce the carbon footprint.. Alternative sources of energy, such as powering consumer products with water are important ways to reduce the carbon footprint.

The Bedol Water Clock keeps perfect time without requiring batteries or electricity. Just open the top cap and fill with about 1/8 cup of tap water! The amazing Bedol Water Clock converts ions in the water into clean energy power. Water won’t need to be replaced for 26 weeks or more and its simple and fun to do. Built-in memory chip remembers time so you don’t have to reset. This eco-friendly timepiece is the perfect size for travel! Features a daily or hourly alarm and easy to set 12 hour or 24 hour clock. The perfect alarm clock for traveling, you never need to buy batteries! The Bedol Water Clock. Time powered by water, join Bedol in another leap forward towards a greener planet.

The Bedol Smiley Alarm clock

An attractively sculpted form reminiscent of a large raindrop is seen in the Bedol Smiley clock, which runs for more than five years with tapwater refills, and probably twice as long.

"title="An attractively sculpted form reminiscent of a large raindrop is seen in the Bedol Smiley Alarm clock, which runs for  five years with tapwater refills, and possibly even longer."

An attractively sculpted form reminiscent of a large raindrop is seen in the Bedol Smiley Alarm clock, which runs for five years with tapwater refills, and possibly even longer.”

Reduce your carbon imprint by keeping time with tap water! This water-powered alarm clock keeps perfect time without requiring batteries or electricity. Just pop open the cap and fill with tap water! The amazing Bedol Water Clock converts ions in the water into clean energy power. Water won’t need to be replaced for 6 months or more and it’s simple and fun to do. A built-in memory chip ensures you never need to reset the time. Features a daily or hourly alarm and an easy to set 12 hour or 24 hour clock.

The organic design captures the natural beauty and grace of water, taking its inspiration from the moment a water drop splashes against the ground. Eco-friendly in both function and design, The Bedol Water Clock is a truly unique accessory for home or office.
Smiley is available in six vibrant colors including red, green, orange, blue, yellow and charcoal. Measures 6.5” tall x 4” diameter.

The Bedol clocks have appeared on NBC, CBS, ABC and other TV and print media since they were introduced in New York at Javits in 2009. Live Customer Support and Orders Call : 909-626-0388 or visit the shop which stocks a variety of unusual items at Bedol What’s Next 1120 Dewey Way, Suite H Upland, CA 91786 USA.

So these clocks are a step forward in saving the planet but the enduring (for us) question is, how do they work? Have these guys invented perpetual motion, or cold fusion for bedside clocks. Enquiring minds need to know.

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Critical philosopher caught short by scientists’ media game

Peter SInger analyzes ethical conundrums with a scalpel but he should look to his premises when it comes to science(photo Tony Phillips)

Peter SInger analyzes ethical conundrums with a scalpel but he should look to his premises when it comes to science(photo Tony Phillips)

How are the mighty fallen

Peter Singer misled into false premise

Attacks Mbeki for being unscientific on HIV

Ran down to see the great Pete Singer of Princeton, the man who got philosophers to turn around in the fifties and start analyzing real world ethical dilemmas like conditions in meat factories are horrible so is it wrong to eat meat which only supports their suffering?

He gave his career story from the podium on stage at the Cooper Union where a horribly echoing mike was only fixed half way through
but when he got to the details of babies who are candidates for euthanasia I went outside to examine his new book (below) and found an item headed The Tragic Consequences of Being Unscientific which completely destroyed his image as a fine original analyst of modern ethical dilemmas from Australia who has reached a perch at Princeton.

The little essay is on p302 in a section on science and introduces Thabo Mbeki of South Africa as a misguided miscreant responsible for the deaths of over 350,000 South Africans by questioning HIV as the cause of AIDS and blocking their need for medicine to save them from the deadly virus, the cause which was questioned by only “a tiny minority of scientists.”

Singer does acknowledge that in science the majority can be wrong but in this case he argues Mbeki’s crime was not to be scientific and evaluate both sides of the contentious issue, but just to run with the critics that said it was wrong. So in being unscientific he was responsible for 350,000 deaths according to the estimate of the Harvard HIV promoters in a journal.

The only problem with all this is that one only has to read the top flight journals which published the reviews rejecting HIV as the cause of anything which have never been contradicted in the same journals to know that HIV makes no sense at all as a cause of AIDS and the conventional wisdom that it does is a crock of impossibilities.

Peter Singer is therefore caught being unscientific himself and thoroughly unphilosophical in not checking his own premise which is that the majority is right in this case and therefore Mbeki is a scoundrel for being suspicious of Western medicine and science.

Another fact he apparently did not check is that Mbeki did in fact exactly what he Singer thinks is scientific – he mounted a commission with scientists on both sides to argue their case, which was won hands down by the critics (but was pushed aside in the media by a huge New York Times ad listing all the supporters of the conventional wisdom.)

It is a sad day when an expert truthseeker of Singer’s caliber gets shot down by his own guns because he doesn’t understand that scientists these days are happy to mislead the public and sweep critics under the carpet and over the cliff of professional rejection if there is enough funding, prominence and potential Nobel prizes at stake.

Coming from Australia is no excuse for this invidious ethical warping has reached those shores decades ago, sadly enough.

————————————-
PR Notification

ETHICS IN THE REAL WORLD
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016, 6:30PM – 8:00PM

Peter Singer will deliver a free, public talk about his latest book, a group of short essays, entitled Ethics in the Real World (Princeton University Press). In it he applies his controversial ways of thinking to issues like climate change, extreme poverty, animals, abortion, euthanasia, human genetic selection, sports doping, the sale of kidneys, the ethics of high-priced art, and ways of increasing happiness. Singer asks whether chimpanzees are people, smoking should be outlawed, or consensual sex between adult siblings should be decriminalized, and he reiterates his case against the idea that all human life is sacred, applying his arguments to some recent cases in the news. In addition, he explores, in an easily accessible form, some of the deepest philosophical questions, such as whether anything really matters and what is the value of the pale blue dot that is our planet. The collection also includes some more personal reflections, like Singer’s thoughts on one of his favorite activities, surfing, and an unusual suggestion for starting a family conversation over a holiday feast.

The Economist wrote of Ethics and the Real World: “It is an accessible introduction to the work of a philosopher who would not regard being described as “accessible” as an insult. … Despite their brevity, the essays do not shirk the big moral questions…”

Peter Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. He first became well known internationally in 1975 with the publication of Animal Liberation. His other books include How Are We to Live?, The Ethics of What We Eat (with Jim Mason), and The Most Good You Can Do. He divides his time between Princeton and Melbourne.

Located in The Great Hall, in the Foundation Building, 7 East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues

http://cooper.edu/events-and-exhibitions/events/ethics-real-world

Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

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Saving coral reefs from catastrophe

Among the most beautiful sights in Nature, coral reefs will vanish unless something is done – but what?

Coral bleaching is coming at us at an accelerating rate, threatening a quarter of the fish in the world.

“But 1998 marked the first global bleaching event. It killed 15% of corals. Between 1998 and 2010, there were more than 3,700 regional bleaching events.
“They’ve gone up by a factor of ten,” says Hagedorn. “And we’re not slowing down our carbon dioxide emissions. If anything, it’s just going right on up…..

The leitmotif of this dystopian coral-free world is depletion. Marine life and fisheries would collapse. Natural defences against hurricane-fuelled waves and tsunamis would be lost. Land would be eroded, with some islands sinking into the surrounding seas, giving rise to ecological refugees looking for new places to live. “That’s the big picture,” says Gates. “It is just a recipe for disaster.”

The woman with a controversial plan to save corals

We have used selective breeding to create new dog breeds and improve crop yields. Could it also help corals survive the ravages of climate change?

By Alex Riley
22 March 2016
Ruth Gates saw it time and time again. While surveying coral reefs of Caribbean in the late 1980s, she noticed that many corals were clearly stressed, sapped of their colour. Some faded to skeletal white.
The trigger was always a sudden surge in ocean temperature. Some corals reacted by ejecting the algae that live within their tissues and usually provide them with colour and nutrition. The process is aptly known as coral bleaching.
But it was not the bleached corals that piqued Gates’s curiosity. It was the fact that the corals growing next door to the death-white colonies were often still colourful, vibrant and healthy.
Separated by just a few centimetres, how could two corals be worlds apart when it came to their response to warming?

Click for rest
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Parrots are more than pets – they communicate!

A New York Times video collects all the tricks that parrots owned by readers can show off, but there is something about the parade which emotionally shortchanges the complex beings that parrots really are. Perhaps it is the feather plucking state of one of the birds, which betrays the imprisonment that they suffer compared with their lost, free flying state in their natural habitat, with the development of their skills now stunted by meeting frustration at every turn, including even their ability to develop language, as Irene Pepperberg’s African grey Alex showed us all with his vocabulary of more than one hundred significant words.

Even so the parrots movingly do their best to bond with their owners with friendly communication and even with their dog in one priceless moment here where the little bird pauses by the dog on the floor and goes woof! woof! before moving on!

What wonderful creatures parots are!

http://www.nytimes.com/video/science/100000004330501/meet-the-parrots.html

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Heartwrenching news – gorillas vanishing as soldier food

Is there any limit to the damage we are doing to our fellow animals?

SCIENCE (NYT May 3 2016)

Gorillas in Danger of Extinction

The population of the world’s largest primate, the Grauer’s gorilla, has plummeted 77 percent over the last 20 years, with fewer than 3,800 remaining.

http://www.nytimes.com/video/science/earth/100000004359878/gorillas-in-danger-of-extinction.html

http://nyti.ms/26pRnkm

<a href=”http://nyti.ms/26pRnkm>Gorillas:  Going, going, gone…</a>

The Last Silverback Mountain Gorillas

Published on Nov 20, 2012
We went to the Democratic Republic of Congo where 200 of the world’s last silverback mountain gorillas are in a desperate fight for their survival.

Grauer’s Gorillas May Soon Be Extinct, Conservationists Say
By RACHEL NUWERAPRIL 24, 2016

SCIENCE 00:35
Gorillas in Danger of Extinction
Video
Gorillas in Danger of Extinction
The population of the world’s largest primate, the Grauer’s gorilla, has plummeted 77 percent over the last 20 years, with fewer than 3,800 remaining. Publish Date April 25, 2016.

Photo by Christophe Courteau/NPL, via Minden Pictures. Watch in Times Video »

The Grauer’s gorilla, the world’s largest primate, has been a source of continual worry for conservationists for more than two decades. Longstanding conflict in the deep jungles of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo left experts with no choice but to guess at how that gorilla subspecies may be faring.

Now, with tensions abating somewhat, researchers finally have an updated gorilla head count — one that confirms their fears. According to findings compiled by an international team of conservationists, Grauer’s gorilla populations have plummeted 77 percent over the last 20 years, with fewer than 3,800 of the animals remaining.

Click for rest

How to be friends with gorillas

David Attenborough shows how, and gorillas comment.

Ape intelligence

Meanwhile, more clear evidence that apes follow plot lines well enough to anticipate them when they are shown a video of a researcher thumped by another in an ape costume and the video is repeated.

http://www.nytimes.com/video/science/100000003953242/not-quite-planet-of-the-apes.html

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Dog smart as toddlers, humans finally find out

Sixty Minutes reruns Chaser segment – dog can learn verbs as well as nouns.

Dog hugging stimulates oxytocin in both owner and pet

MRI shows how dogs brains work, and that each has different talents

Sixty Minutes reran its wildly popular segment on how dogs brains work, which Anderson Cooper investigated earlier.

Chaser has learned over 100o words which label,his toys  – three times the average toddler.   Seems that training dogs makes them smarter, so one wonders what the limit might be – a dog Einstein seems possible.

Some  interesting comment at Forbes by the Arlene Weintraub authot of an upcoming book on dogs sniffing out cancer.

 

There’s More To Smart Dogs Than What ’60 Minutes’ And Chaser Showed You

www.forbes.com/sites/arleneweintraub/2015/06/14/theres-more-to-smart-dogs-than-what-60-minutes-and-chaser-showed-you/

A site for you to test your own dog’s wits:  Dognition

https://www.dognition.com/

 

Here is the script of the episode

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-smartest-dog-in-the-world/

Click for rest
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Beauty and brains win the Fields medal!

beauty and brains  Fields-Medal-winner-Maryaam mirzakhan

beauty and brains Fields-Medal-winner-Maryaam mirzakhan

PC readers don’t read this, please – but here we have beauty and brains! = the perfect woman.

Fields Medal mathematics prize won by woman for first time in its history
Maryam Mirzakhani, who was born and raised in Iran, has been awarded the highest honour a mathematician can attain
THEGUARDIAN.COM|BY IAN SAMPLE

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/aug/13/fields-medal-mathematics-prize-woman-maryam-mirzakhani

It will go down in history as the moment one of the last bastions of male dominance fell. A woman has won the world’s most prestigious mathematics prize for the first time since the award was established nearly 80 years ago.

Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian maths professor at Stanford University in California, was named the first female winner of the Fields Medal – often described as the Nobel prize for mathematics – at a ceremony in Seoul on Wednesday.

The maths community has been abuzz with rumours for months that Mirzakhani was in line to win the prize. To outsiders her work is esoteric, abstract and impenetrable. But to more qualified minds, she has a breathtaking scope, is technically superb and boldly ambitious. She describes the language of maths as full of “beauty and elegance”.

The prize, worth 15,000 Canadian dollars (£8,000), is awarded to exceptional talents under the age of 40 once every four years by the International Mathematical Union. Between two and four prizes are announced each time.

Three other researchers were named Fields Medal winners at the same ceremony in South Korea. They included Martin Hairer, a 38-year-old Austrian based at Warwick University in the UK, Manjul Bhargava, a 40-year old Canadian-American at Princeton University in the US and Artur Avila, 35, a Brazilian-French researcher at the Institute of Mathematics of Jussieu in Paris.

There have been 55 Fields medallists since the prize was first awarded in 1936, including this year’s winners. The Russian mathematician Grigori Perelman refused the prize in 2006 for his proof of the Poincaré conjecture.

Mirzhakhani, 37, was among a number of women tipped for the prize in recent years and her success won immediate praise from fellow mathematicians.

Christiane Rousseau, vice president of the International Mathematics Union, said: “It’s an extraordinary moment. Marie-Curie had Nobel prizes in physics and chemistry at the beginning of the 20th century, but in mathematics this is the first time we have a woman winning the most prestigious prize there is. This is a celebration for women.”

“I am thrilled that this day has finally come,” said Sir Tim Gowers, a Fields medallist and mathematician at Cambridge University. “Although women have contributed to mathematics at the highest level for a long time, this fact has not been visible to the general public. I hope that the existence of a female Fields medallist, who will surely be the first of many, will put to bed many myths about women and mathematics, and encourage more young women to think of mathematical research as a possible career.”

Born and raised in Iran, Mirzakhani completed a PhD at Harvard in 2004. Her path into mathematics was not a given, though. As a child, her passion was not for numbers, but literature. Her school in Tehran was near a street full of bookshops and because browsing was not allowed, she ended up buying a lot of random books. “I dreamed of becoming a writer,” she said in an interview for the Clay Mathematics Institute (CMI) in 2008. “I never thought I would pursue mathematics before my last year in high school.”

It was Mirzakhani’s brother who first piqued her interest in science. He used to come home from school and talk over what he had learned. He told her the story of the German mathematician, Carl Friedrich Gauss, who displayed his precocious skills as a schoolboy when he worked out in seconds how to sum all the numbers from 1 to 100. (The answer is 5,050 and the trick is to look at pairs that add up to 101.) “That was the first time I enjoyed a beautiful solution, though I couldn’t find it myself,” she said.

The seed that had been sown began to germinate, with help from her school principal, a strong-willed woman who made every effort to ensure her students had the same opportunities as the boys. As a teenager, Mirzakhani took part in international maths olympiads and won gold medals in 1994 and in 1995. In the first, in Hong Kong, she dropped a single point. At the latter, in Toronto, she finished with a perfect score.

Later, as a student at Sharif University, she befriended inspiring mathematicians and found that the more time she spent on the subject, the more excited she became. Then, at Harvard, she began to work with another Fields medallist, Curt McMullen, and became fascinated with how he made mathematics so simple and elegant.

Most of the problems Mirzakhani works on involve geometric structures on surfaces and their deformations. She has a particular interest in hyperbolic planes, which can look like the edges of curly kale leaves, but may be easier to crochet than explain. According to a citation released by the International Mathematical Union, Mirzakhani won the prize for her “outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces”.

Hairer won for his “outstanding contributions to the theory of stochastic partial differential equations”, which contain terms that are inherently random. At school, he created audio software that he marketed as “the Swiss army knife of sound editing”.

Avila was honoured for his “profound contributions to dynamical systems”. Bhargava won for “developing powerful new methods in the geometry of numbers”, including elliptic curves used in cryptography.

“The mathematics that has been the most applicable and important to society over the years has been the mathematics that scientists found while searching for beauty; and eventually all beautiful and elegant mathematics tends to find applications,” said Bhargava.

Mirzakhani declined an interview, but she told the CMI in 2008 that while maths was not for everyone, many students did not give it a real chance. She did poorly at maths for several years at school because she was not interested in the subject. “I can see that without being excited, mathematics can look pointless and cold. The beauty of mathematics only shows itself to more patient followers,” she said.

Speaking to the American Mathematical Society last year, she said the situation for women in maths was still far from ideal. “The social barriers for girls who are interested in mathematical sciences might not be lower now than they were when I grew up. And balancing career and family remains a big challenge. It makes most women face difficult decisions which usually compromise their work,” she said.

Frances Kirwan at Oxford University, one of Britain’s leading mathematicians, said: “Maths is a hugely rewarding subject, but sadly many children lose confidence very early and never reap those rewards. It has traditionally been regarded as a male preserve, though women are known to have contributed to its development for centuries – more than 16 centuries if we go back to Hypatia of Alexandria.

“In recent years around 40% of UK undergraduates studying maths have been women, but that proportion declines very rapidly when we look at the numbers progressing to PhDs and beyond. I hope that this award will inspire lots more girls and young women, in this country and around the world, to believe in their own abilities and aim to be the Fields medallists of the future.”

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Chimps prefer cooked potato and help to “cook” it.

NYT video: Chimps prefer cooked potato and help to “cook” it.

These are the guys whose skulls we open while they are conscious and attach all kinds of experimental things to, because we are scientists, and they are mere objects without ideas or emotions that count.

Almost. Scientists found that chimpanzees have the patience and foresight to hold off on eating raw food and put it in a device that seems to cook it.
NYTIMES.COM|BY THE NEW YORK TIMES
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Clutter appreciators unite!

At last! Someone sweeps away the spurious and ignorant guilt and shame of clutter to write the truth about the enduring value of the things we accumulate, irreplaceable books, movies, mementos, finds – in our own private library/museum.

This was originally entitled In Praise of the Comfort of Clutter in print, but Alas some busybody at the Times changed the headline to a cliche. Also, the url appended for her blog SlowLoveLife.com. may not work at first but is correct.

It is time to liberate ourselves from the propaganda of de-cluttering and turn to collecting and displaying what we treasure.
NYTIMES.COM|BY DOMINIQUE BROWNING
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Never found before pathway links brain and immune system! In sinuses.

Wait – is that new? What about head colds?

“Their presence is causing a stir in the medical world, as the researchers responsible believe the vessels may help to explain current medical mysteries, such as why patients with Alzheimer’s disease have accumulations of large protein plaques in the brain.”

See More

A previously unknown link between the brain and the immune system was found hidden in the lining of the sinuses.
MEDICALDAILY.COM|BY DANA DOVEY
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All your antibodies! Breakthrough test reveals flaw in HIV think

Breakthrough test reveals flaw in HIV think!

Every virus you have ever had shows up in new test, which presumably counts antibodies. Apparently it shows that if you have HIV antibodies you have bigger immune response to every other virus, not weakened! “The researchers do not know why”. How about it, John “My Macaques Show The Way” Moore?

It’s like one-stop shopping for scientists: a blood test can now show every virus that has a crossed a person’s path, lending insight into disease.
NYTIMES.COM|BY DENISE GRADY
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Global heating didn’t let up. after all, in the first decade

So global warming didn’t slow this century, after all, says NOAA in Science. It just was slower for the last century than thought. On track for disaster, still. Record temps this year again.

The new findings try to correct for problems in the way global temperatures were measured and suggest there has not been a slowdown in global warming since 2000.
NYTIMES.COM|BY JUSTIN GILLIS
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Cutest girl in space and smasher of space records, Samantha Cristoferetti

Cutest girl in space and smasher of space records, Samantha shows that it is possible to be an accomplished scientist and brave adventurer without making the silly mistake of trying to emulate the “toughness” of men, instead being utterly charming in a modest and engaging manner – but of course she is Italian, meaning she knows how to live, and be outgoing. What a tremendous nation! Her delightful balance survived even six months in a sardine can 250 miles up. Quality counts.

A European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut of Italian nationality, Samantha Cristoforetti is currently on the International Space Station for the second long-duration mission of the Italian Space Agency (ASI). She is a Flight Engineer for Expedition 42 and 43 that was launched to space in November 2014…
SAMANTHACRISTOFORETTI.ESA.INT
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/06/11/three-cheers-for-samantha-cristoforetti-smasher-of-space-records/

Three cheers for Samantha Cristoforetti, smasher of space records

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Men and women – different? Elinor Birkett applies politics to the obvious

Standing up for equality! Elinor Burkett at the Oscars

So men and women aren’t that different, Elinor Burkett?

“They haven’t suffered through business meetings with men talking to their breasts…”

And this is the woman who wrote The Gravest Show on Earth : America in the Age of AIDS.  (“Burkett offerd a scorching criticism of the ‘AIDS industry’ for greed, self-promotion and putting politics over prevention.”)

(Also:A film that she was involved in the production of,Music by Prudence, won the 2009 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject). She was removed from production of the documentary a year earlier, resulting in a lawsuit and out of court settlement. It caused a media frenzy when, in the midst of the televised Oscar ceremony, the82nd Academy Awards, she interrupted the acceptance speech of producer and directorRoger Ross Williams. It was widely touted as the “Kanye Moment” of that year’s Oscars, referring to the Kanye West incident at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards)

(Williams and Burkett worked together on “Music by Prudence,” a half-hour film about a Zimbabwean woman who overcomes a severe disability and family rejection in one of the world’s poorest countries. It won the Academy Award for best short documentary.

Williams was 10 seconds into his acceptance when Burkett, 63, edged him from the microphone.
“He tried to make sure I couldn’t get there before him,” Burkett said. “He just didn’t seem to think I would be so rude to interrupt him.”
Burkett told Behar that Williams “big-footed me” by running to the stage while she was slowed by Williams’ elderly mother.
“I couldn’t get out,” she said.
“I think you get up and wait for me to get up, and we go up together graciously,” she said. “He starts talking when I’m halfway up.”
Video of the event showed Williams jogging from the rear of the Kodak Theater to the stage to take the gold Oscar statue and the microphone.
“Oh, my God, this is amazing,” Williams said. “Two years ago, when I got on an airplane and went to Zimbabwe, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I’d end up here. This is so exciting.”
By that point, Burkett had reached him.
“Just like a man, never lets a woman talk,” she told the Oscar audience. “Isn’t that just the classic thing?”
She explained to Behar that “either I could let him blather on for 45 seconds, or I could interrupt so I could get to talk.”
She wanted the acceptance speech to be about Prudence and the musicians in the documentary, “not that ‘I am so happy,’ ” she said.
Williams quietly watched as Burkett spoke, until the Oscar director cued exit music a minute into the speech.
“Prudence is here tonight,” Williams said, pointing to the audience. “This is for Prudence.”
Williams, appearing on CNN’s “Larry King Live” on Monday night, said the incident was “a little shocking.”
“I was there to talk about Prudence,” he said. “We were there to honor Prudence and her incredible message and her incredible story.”
King allowed Williams 80 seconds of airtime to complete his acceptance speech.
Williams said he and Burkett were no longer friends.)

(She thought of the idea for the doc, but they clashed over how it was done.  see telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/oscars/7396843/Oscars-2010-Elinor-Burketts-Kanye-West-moment-as-she-storms-stage-to-ruin-speech.html)

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/opinion/sunday/what-makes-a-woman.html?_r=0

What Makes a Woman?
By ELINOR BURKETT JUNE 6, 2015

Do women and men have different brains?

Back when Lawrence H. Summers was president of Harvard and suggested that they did, the reaction was swift and merciless. Pundits branded him sexist. Faculty members deemed him a troglodyte. Alumni withheld donations.

But when Bruce Jenner said much the same thing in an April interview with Diane Sawyer, he was lionized for his bravery, even for his progressivism.

“My brain is much more female than it is male,” he told her, explaining how he knew that he was transgender.

This was the prelude to a new photo spread and interview in Vanity Fair that offered us a glimpse into Caitlyn Jenner’s idea of a woman: a cleavage-boosting corset, sultry poses, thick mascara and the prospect of regular “girls’ nights” of banter about hair and makeup. Ms. Jenner was greeted with even more thunderous applause. ESPN announced it would give Ms. Jenner an award for courage. President Obama also praised her. Not to be outdone, Chelsea Manning hopped on Ms. Jenner’s gender train on Twitter, gushing, “I am so much more aware of my emotions; much more sensitive emotionally (and physically).”

A part of me winced.

I have fought for many of my 68 years against efforts to put women — our brains, our hearts, our bodies, even our moods — into tidy boxes, to reduce us to hoary stereotypes. Suddenly, I find that many of the people I think of as being on my side — people who proudly call themselves progressive and fervently support the human need for self-determination — are buying into the notion that minor differences in male and female brains lead to major forks in the road and that some sort of gendered destiny is encoded in us.

That’s the kind of nonsense that was used to repress women for centuries. But the desire to support people like Ms. Jenner and their journey toward their truest selves has strangely and unwittingly brought it back.

People who haven’t lived their whole lives as women, whether Ms. Jenner or Mr. Summers, shouldn’t get to define us. That’s something men have been doing for much too long. And as much as I recognize and endorse the right of men to throw off the mantle of maleness, they cannot stake their claim to dignity as transgender people by trampling on mine as a woman.

Their truth is not my truth. Their female identities are not my female identity. They haven’t traveled through the world as women and been shaped by all that this entails. They haven’t suffered through business meetings with men talking to their breasts or woken up after sex terrified they’d forgotten to take their birth control pills the day before. They haven’t had to cope with the onset of their periods in the middle of a crowded subway, the humiliation of discovering that their male work partners’ checks were far larger than theirs, or the fear of being too weak to ward off rapists.

For me and many women, feminist and otherwise, one of the difficult parts of witnessing and wanting to rally behind the movement for transgender rights is the language that a growing number of trans individuals insist on, the notions of femininity that they’re articulating, and their disregard for the fact that being a woman means having accrued certain experiences, endured certain indignities and relished certain courtesies in a culture that reacted to you as one.

Brains are a good place to begin because one thing that science has learned about them is that they’re in fact shaped by experience, cultural and otherwise. The part of the brain that deals with navigation is enlarged in London taxi drivers, as is the region dealing with the movement of the fingers of the left hand in right-handed violinists.

“You can’t pick up a brain and say ‘that’s a girl’s brain’ or ‘that’s a boy’s brain,’ ” Gina Rippon, a neuroscientist at Britain’s Aston University, told The Telegraph last year. The differences between male and female brains are caused by the “drip, drip, drip” of the gendered environment, she said.

THE drip, drip, drip of Ms. Jenner’s experience included a hefty dose of male privilege few women could possibly imagine. While young “Bruiser,” as Bruce Jenner was called as a child, was being cheered on toward a university athletic scholarship, few female athletes could dare hope for such largess since universities offered little funding for women’s sports. When Mr. Jenner looked for a job to support himself during his training for the 1976 Olympics, he didn’t have to turn to the meager “Help Wanted – Female” ads in the newspapers, and he could get by on the $9,000 he earned annually, unlike young women whose median pay was little more than half that of men. Tall and strong, he never had to figure out how to walk streets safely at night.

Those are realities that shape women’s brains.

By defining womanhood the way he did to Ms. Sawyer, Mr. Jenner and the many advocates for transgender rights who take a similar tack ignore those realities. In the process, they undermine almost a century of hard-fought arguments that the very definition of female is a social construct that has subordinated us. And they undercut our efforts to change the circumstances we grew up with.

The “I was born in the wrong body” rhetoric favored by other trans people doesn’t work any better and is just as offensive, reducing us to our collective breasts and vaginas. Imagine the reaction if a young white man suddenly declared that he was trapped in the wrong body and, after using chemicals to change his skin pigmentation and crocheting his hair into twists, expected to be embraced by the black community.

Many women I know, of all ages and races, speak privately about how insulting we find the language trans activists use to explain themselves. After Mr. Jenner talked about his brain, one friend called it an outrage and asked in exasperation, “Is he saying that he’s bad at math, weeps during bad movies and is hard-wired for empathy?” After the release of the Vanity Fair photos of Ms. Jenner, Susan Ager, a Michigan journalist, wrote on her Facebook page, “I fully support Caitlyn Jenner, but I wish she hadn’t chosen to come out as a sex babe.”

For the most part, we bite our tongues and do not express the anger we openly and rightly heaped on Mr. Summers, put off by the mudslinging match that has broken out on the radical fringes of both the women’s and the trans movements over events limited to “women-born women,” access to bathrooms and who has suffered the greater persecution. The insult and outright fear that trans men and women live with is all too familiar to us, and a cruelly marginalized group’s battle for justice is something we instinctively want to rally behind.

But as the movement becomes mainstream, it’s growing harder to avoid asking pointed questions about the frequent attacks by some trans leaders on women’s right to define ourselves, our discourse and our bodies. After all, the trans movement isn’t simply echoing African-Americans, Chicanos, gays or women by demanding an end to the violence and discrimination, and to be treated with a full measure of respect. It’s demanding that women reconceptualize ourselves.

In January 2014, the actress Martha Plimpton, an abortion-rights advocate, sent out a tweet about a benefit for Texas abortion funding called “A Night of a Thousand Vaginas.” Suddenly, she was swamped by criticism for using the word “vagina.” “Given the constant genital policing, you can’t expect trans folks to feel included by an event title focused on a policed, binary genital,” responded @DrJaneChi.

WHEN Ms. Plimpton explained that she would continue to say “vagina” — and why shouldn’t she, given that without a vagina, there is no pregnancy or abortion? — her feed overflowed anew with indignation, Michelle Goldberg reported in The Nation. “So you’re really committed to doubling down on using a term that you’ve been told many times is exclusionary & harmful?” asked one blogger. Ms. Plimpton became, to use the new trans insult, a terf, which stands for “trans exclusionary radical feminist.”

In January, Project: Theatre at Mount Holyoke College, a self-described liberal arts college for women, canceled a performance of Eve Ensler’s iconic feminist play “The Vagina Monologues” because it offered an “extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman,” explained Erin Murphy, the student group’s chairwoman.

Let me get this right: The word “vagina” is exclusionary and offers an extremely narrow perspective on womanhood, so the 3.5 billion of us who have vaginas, along with the trans people who want them, should describe ours with the politically correct terminology trans activists are pushing on us: “front hole” or “internal genitalia”?

Even the word “woman” has come under assault by some of the very people who claim the right to be considered women. The hashtags #StandWithTexasWomen, popularized after Wendy Davis, then a state senator, attempted to filibuster the Texas Legislature to prevent passage of a draconian anti-abortion law, and #WeTrustWomen, are also under attack since they, too, are exclusionary.

“Abortion rights and reproductive justice is not a women’s issue,” wrote Emmett Stoffer, one of many self-described transgender persons to blog on the topic. It is “a uterus owner’s issue.” Mr. Stoffer was referring to the possibility that a woman who is taking hormones or undergoing surgery to become a man, or who does not identify as a woman, can still have a uterus, become pregnant and need an abortion.

Accordingly, abortion rights groups are under pressure to modify their mission statements to omit the word woman, as Katha Pollitt recently reported in The Nation. Those who have given in, like the New York Abortion Access Fund, now offer their services to “people” and to “callers.” Fund Texas Women, which covers the travel and hotel expenses of abortion seekers with no nearby clinic, recently changed its name to Fund Texas Choice. “With a name like Fund Texas Women, we were publicly excluding trans people who needed to get an abortion but were not women,” the group explains on its website.

Women’s colleges are contorting themselves into knots to accommodate female students who consider themselves men, but usually not men who are living as women. Now these institutions, whose core mission is to cultivate female leaders, have student government and dormitory presidents who identify as males.

As Ruth Padawer reported in The New York Times Magazine last fall, Wellesley students are increasingly replacing the word “sisterhood” with “siblinghood,” and faculty members are confronted with complaints from trans students about their universal use of the pronoun she — although Wellesley rightly brags about its long history as the “world’s pre-eminent college for women.”

The landscape that’s being mapped and the language that comes with it are impossible to understand and just as hard to navigate. The most theory-bound of the trans activists say that there are no paradoxes here, and that anyone who believes there are is clinging to a binary view of gender that’s hopelessly antiquated. Yet Ms. Jenner and Ms. Manning, to mention just two, expect to be called women even as the abortion providers are being told that using that term is discriminatory. So are those who have transitioned from men the only “legitimate” women left?

Women like me are not lost in false paradoxes; we were smashing binary views of male and female well before most Americans had ever heard the word “transgender” or used the word “binary” as an adjective. Because we did, and continue to do so, thousands of women once confined to jobs as secretaries, beauticians or flight attendants now work as welders, mechanics and pilots. It’s why our daughters play with trains and trucks as well as dolls, and why most of us feel free to wear skirts and heels on Tuesday and bluejeans on Friday.

In fact, it’s hard to believe that this hard-won loosening of gender constraints for women isn’t at least a partial explanation for why three times as many gender reassignment surgeries are performed on men. Men are, comparatively speaking, more bound, even strangled, by gender stereotyping.

The struggle to move beyond such stereotypes is far from over, and trans activists could be women’s natural allies moving forward. So long as humans produce X and Y chromosomes that lead to the development of penises and vaginas, almost all of us will be “assigned” genders at birth. But what we do with those genders — the roles we assign ourselves, and each other, based on them — is almost entirely mutable.

If that’s the ultimate message of the mainstream of the trans community, we’ll happily, lovingly welcome them to the fight to create space for everyone to express him-, her- or, in gender neutral parlance, hir-self without being coerced by gendered expectations. But undermining women’s identities, and silencing, erasing or renaming our experiences, aren’t necessary to that struggle.

Bruce Jenner told Ms. Sawyer that what he looked forward to most in his transition was the chance to wear nail polish, not for a furtive, fugitive instant, but until it chips off. I want that for Bruce, now Caitlyn, too. But I also want her to remember: Nail polish does not a woman make.

Elinor Burkett is a journalist, a former professor of women’s studies and an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on June 7, 2015, on page SR1 of the New York edition with the headline: What Makes a Woman?

 

Applying a little analytical power, showing how muddied the issue of transgender has become culturally (more than most people want to know, presumably):

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brynn-tannehill/who-decides-what-makes-a-woman_b_7560486.html

Much less analytical power at Salon:

http://www.salon.com/2015/06/08/the_new_york_times_bungles_transgender_rights_what_its_caitlyn_jenner_op_ed_gets_wrong_about_feminism_and_gender_identity/

Guardian chimes in:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/11/caitlyn-jenner-transgender-feminism-woman

 

Interesting excesses of PC mentioned there:

To reference female genitalia, Plimpton was told, is “exclusionary” because trans women are born without one.

 

NYT Comments have some gems – there are 637 of them!

 

A woman doctor friend who worked with newborns told me I would be amazed at how many were born with sex hard to determine. Surgery involved what was easiest and parental wish. I don’t know whether Jenner is in this group, and it is none of my business. His decision, and she must make the best of it, controlling media as best she can. So she ended up pretty? No worse than any man or woman choosing plastic surgery. And don’t forget: the photo was carefully staged with makeup. The reality may be more like us regular folk.

/////

The transgender movement, which has burst upon the cultural scene the last couple years, has thrown the women’s movement into a tizzy. Reading this op-ed, I couldn’t keep up with what is PC and what is not. It will take awhile to sort out.

I believe Lawrence Summers was pilloried mainly because he said women are not as good at math and science than men. He was saying women’s brains are not just different, but inferior to men’s. For that he was rightly criticized.

/////

DaveD

Wisconsin 4 days ago

But if the sexes are not substantially different as we’re constantly told, and since there are only two known examples, why would someone choose to change physical sexes? Otherwise what you are seeking is the immutable qualities of the other sex. You can adopt the social, and mutable, qualities any time without surgery. You can’t have it both ways; either the sexes are truly different and have unique qualities or they’re not – and don’t.

 

 

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Glue for flesh, even liver – Ludwig Leibler wins Inventor of the Year with vitrimers

nsr jun 11 2015 Ludwik Leibler won the European Inventor Award 2015 in the Research for work on vitrimers he recently developed a glue for flesh even liver – Copy

Maybe they can glue that finger, hand or arm back on quickly?

NATIONAL PRESS RELEASE | PARIS | 11 June 2015

CNRS researcher Ludwik Leibler receives the European Inventor Award 2015

CNRS senior researcher Ludwik Leibler has received the European Inventor Award 2015 in the “Research” category for his work on vitrimers, novel materials with many potential industrial applications. A physical chemist, he has recently developed a glue that can replace surgical stitches and repair soft-tissue organs such as the liver. A member of the French Académie des Sciences and associate professor at the ESPCI Paris Tech, Ludwik Leibler is the director of the MMC (Matière Molle et Chimie) laboratory (CNRS/ESPCI ParisTech). He was granted the CNRS Medal of Innovation in 2013.

Ludwik Leibler has designed entirely novel materials based on a deep theoretical approach, innovative ideas and a focus on industrial applications from the early stages of development.

Today, he is rewarded for his research on vitrimers, a new type of repairable and recyclable materials which, at high temperatures, can be shaped reversibly and at will. Surprisingly, these materials also keep the lightness, insolubility and shock resistance of organic resins and rubbers. Inexpensive and easy to manufacture, they could find uses in a wide range of industrial applications, especially in the automotive, aviation and building industries, as well as in electronics and recreational activities. (See related CNRS press release).

In collaboration with Didier Letouneur, at the LVTS (Laboratoire de recherche vasculaire translationnelle – Inserm/Paris Diderot and Paris 13 Universities), Ludwik Leibler also discovered that aqueous solutions containing adhesive nanoparticles can be used in vivo to repair soft organs and tissues. This easy-to-use gluing method has been tested on rats. Applied to the skin, it closes deep wounds in only a few seconds and provides aesthetic, high-quality healing by replacing surgical stitches. It has also been successfully tested to repair organs that are difficult to suture, such as the liver. Finally, this solution has made it possible to attach a medical device to a beating heart, demonstrating the method’s potential for delivering drugs and strengthening tissues (see CNRS press release).

Aged 63, Ludwik Leibler is a CNRS exceptional grade senior researcher, director of the MMC (Matière Molle et Chimie) laboratory and associate professor at the ESPCI ParisTech. He became a member of the French Académie des Sciences on November 18, 2014. A theoretical physicist by training, this multifaceted researcher has conducted pioneering fundamental research in polymer physics and chemistry. Internationally acclaimed for his essential contribution to polymer dynamics and nanostructuring, Leibler has established permanent links with industry. His close collaborations with groups including Arkema and Total have contributed to groundbreaking innovations.

Ludwik Leibler was awarded the CNRS Medal of Innovation in 2013. This distinction rewards researchers whose outstanding contribution has led to significant breakthroughs in the fields of technology, economics, medicine or the humanities.

See video of Ludwik Leibler (in french)

The official press release of the European Patent Office announcing the winners of the Inventor of the Year Award.
Contacts

Ludwik Leibler l T +33 1 40 79 51 25 l ludwik.leibler@espci.fr

CNRS press office l Julien Guillaume l T +33 1 44 96 46 35 / +33 6 75 74 02 22 l julien.guillaume@cnrs-dir.fr

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FBI Overstated Evidence in Many Cases

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/report-fbi-investigators-overstated-evidence-criminal-defendants/

HARI SREENIVASAN: News from Washington tonight that, for nearly two decades, during the 1980s and ’90s, top FBI forensic investigators routinely gave flawed testimony, overstating the evidence they had against criminal defendants.

In more than a dozen cases, the defendants were later executed or died in prison.

Spencer Hsu broke the story in today’s Washington Post. He joins us now.

So, you said that this is a watershed moment in one of the country’s largest forensic scandals. Break this down for us.

SPENCER HSU, The Washington Post: What has been found has been, as you say, that, for more than two decades, nearly every examiner and nearly every criminal trial in which FBI experts gave testimony against criminal defendants, they overstated the strength or the significance of a match.

HARI SREENIVASAN: So, you said that about a quarter of all the wrongful convictions, the people who have been exonerated later on, the testimony of hair examiners or bite mark comparisons have actually helped sway juries or judges.

SPENCER HSU: That’s right.

Out of about 329 DNA exonerations, a quarter, more than a quarter have involved invalid forensic science. One of the issues here is that, unlike DNA, which has a — was developed, you know, by scientists for scientists, a lot of the earlier pattern-based techniques, comparing hair, fiber, bite marks, even tracing bullets to — being fired from specific weapons, were developed in the lab by law enforcement.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Let’s just say, for example, if a defense attorney figures out that some of the evidence used in a trial for their client includes testimony from one of these FBI inspectors, what happens to them?

Does this mean that the judge automatically grants a new investigation or a retrial?

SPENCER HSU: Not necessarily.

The FBI has offered to retest, in cases where errors were made, DNA, if DNA evidence is available. The federal government has offered to drop procedural bars to post-conviction appeals as well.

But, for states, most states make it difficult to challenge old convictions in the absence of DNA. Only California and Texas have laws that permit it in cases when forensic evidence is recanted or undermined by scientific advances.

HARI SREENIVASAN: What is the FBI going to do to fix this?

SPENCER HSU: They have said that they will do a root cause analysis after all the reviews are completed. Again, they have offered to retest DNA, when DNA evidence is available, and to allow federal cases to be brought.

They are agreeing to review scientific testimony and lab report standards to make clear what is erroneous and what is acceptable in 19 other techniques. They say they did this for hair in 2012, when our reports surfaced and they launched this review.

The ball now again goes to state authorities, as well as to the courts, to determine if they will change these precedents, more rigorously challenge the admissibility of scientific evidence.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Spencer Hsu of The Washington Post, thanks so much.

SPENCER HSU: Thank you.
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Tsunami of Hacking of Gov and Personal

https://www.wnyc.org/radio/#/ondemand/446036 WNYC reveals hacking of NYC computers is serious problem

PBS Weekend did ransomware this weekend April 17 2015
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/ransomware-hack-attacks-holding-data-hostage-avoid/ is transcript

But solving problem appears to be easy just start up in safe mode. Attached back u drives seem to be immune. So back up!!!

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/united-airline-prevents-researcher-boarding-tweet-security/

Airplanes very vulnerable!!

WASHINGTON — United Airlines stopped a prominent security researcher from boarding a California-bound flight late Saturday, following a social media post by the researcher days earlier suggesting the airline’s onboard systems could be hacked.

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The researcher, Chris Roberts, attempted to board a United flight from Colorado to San Francisco to speak at a major security conference there this week, but was stopped by the airline’s corporate security at the gate. Roberts founded One World Labs, which tries to discover security risks before they are exploited.

Roberts had been removed from an earlier United flight Wednesday by the FBI and questioned for four hours after jokingly suggesting on Twitter he could get the oxygen masks on the plane to deploy. Authorities also seized his laptop and other electronics.

A lawyer for Roberts said United gave him no detailed explanation Saturday why he wasn’t allowed on the plane, saying instead the airline would be sending Roberts a letter within two weeks stating why they wouldn’t let him fly on their aircraft.

“Given Mr. Roberts’ claims regarding manipulating aircraft systems, we’ve decided it’s in the best interest of our customers and crew members that he not be allowed to fly United,” airline spokesman Rahsaan Johnson told The Associated Press. “However, we are confident our flight control systems could not be accessed through techniques he described.”

Johnson did not respond to a follow-up question Sunday why Roberts would still be a threat if he couldn’t, in fact, compromise United’s control systems.

In recent weeks, Roberts gave media interviews in which he discussed airline system vulnerabilities. “Quite simply put, we can theorize on how to turn the engines off at 35,000 feet and not have any of those damn flashing lights go off in the cockpit,” he told Fox News.

Roberts also told CNN he was able to connect to a box under his seat at least a dozen times to view data from the aircraft’s engines, fuel and flight-management systems.

“It is disappointing that United refused to allow him to board, and we hope that United learns that computer security researchers are a vital ally, not a threat,” said Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney with the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represents Roberts.

The Government Accountability Office said last week that some commercial aircraft may be vulnerable to hacking over their onboard wireless networks. “Modern aircraft are increasingly connected to the Internet. This interconnectedness can potentially provide unauthorized remote access to aircraft avionics systems,” its report found.

Roberts took an alternate flight on Southwest Airlines and arrived in San Francisco Saturday evening. He speaks this week at the RSA Conference about computer security vulnerabilities.

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Plane Seats Threaten Passengers Health

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3042141/Passengers-safety-risk-shrinking-plane-seats-decreasing-cabin-space.html

Passengers’ safety being ‘put at risk’ by shrinking plane seats and ever decreasing cabin space

cattle on crowded plane

Experts question if packed out planes are putting passengers at risk
U.S consumer advisory group says minimum space must be stipulated
Safety tests conducted on planes with more leg room than airlines offer
By EMILY PAYNE FOR MAILONLINE

PUBLISHED: 02:16 EST, 17 April 2015 | UPDATED: 02:35 EST, 17 April 2015

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Ever noticed how plane seats appear to be getting smaller and smaller?

With increasing numbers of people taking to the skies, some experts are questioning if having such packed out planes is putting passengers at risk.

They say that the shrinking space on aeroplanes is not only uncomfortable – it’s putting our health and safety in danger.

More than squabbling over the arm rest, shrinking space on planes putting our health and safety in danger?
+3
More than squabbling over the arm rest, shrinking space on planes putting our health and safety in danger?

This week, a U.S consumer advisory group set up by the Department of Transportation said at a public hearing that while the government is happy to set standards for animals flying on planes, it doesn’t stipulate a minimum amount of space for humans.

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‘In a world where animals have more rights to space and food than humans,’ said Charlie Leocha, consumer representative on the committee. ‘It is time that the DOT and FAA take a stand for humane treatment of passengers.’

But could crowding on planes lead to more serious issues than fighting for space in the overhead lockers, crashing elbows and seat back kicking?

Tests conducted by the FAA use planes with a 31 inch pitch, a standard which on some airlines has decreased
Tests conducted by the FAA use planes with a 31 inch pitch, a standard which on some airlines has decreased

Many economy seats on United Airlines have 30 inches of room, while some airlines offer as little as 28 inches
Many economy seats on United Airlines have 30 inches of room, while some airlines offer as little as 28 inches

Cynthia Corbertt, a human factors researcher with the Federal Aviation Administration, that it conducts tests on how quickly passengers can leave a plane.

But these tests are conducted using planes with 31 inches between each row of seats, a standard which on some airlines has decreased, reported the Detroit News.

The distance between two seats from one point on a seat to the same point on the seat behind it is known as the pitch. While most airlines stick to a pitch of 31 inches or above, some fall below this.

While United Airlines has 30 inches of space, Gulf Air economy seats have between 29 and 32 inches, Air Asia offers 29 inches and Spirit Airlines offers just 28 inches.

British Airways has a seat pitch of 31 inches, while easyJet has 29 inches, Thomson’s short haul seat pitch is 28 inches, and Virgin Atlantic’s is 30-31.

he comments below have not been moderated.

Barmitag, Detroit, United States, about an hour ago
I don’t need legroom, I need width, hey airlines, we’re all different sizes.
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TROUTMAN, FOREST.O.D., United Kingdom, about an hour ago
Until somebody stands up to them and says enough is enough they would like us to be strapped in standing up !! Profit before health and safety, cattle and the likes have got better safety protection than humans when being transported around today
ReplyNew Comment017Click to rate

New yorker, Watertown, United States, about 2 hours ago
How the h— can they possible make plane seats smaller? All they are going to do is cause fewer people to fly, so what are they really accomplishing?
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bankofdad, Ottawa, Canada, about 3 hours ago
Have you noticed that the crash safety instructions tell you to assume a position with your head bowed down between your knees? Have you noticed that the seats are so small and close together that you couldn’t assume that position even if you wanted too?……………..cheers
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lifeis, NJ, United States, about 3 hours ago
I flew internationally 2 weeks ago and the flight was 13.5 hours long. I felt like I was going to die on that plane because I was so uncomfortable. I even upgraded my seat so I had extra legroom! There was no way I could have made it in a regular seat, the legroom is just absolutely pitiful. I fly back next week and I’m anxious just thinking about how uncomfortable the flight is.
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Ramakrishna Hosur, Bangalore, India, about 3 hours ago
Seat design and the space between seats on airlines should be legislated and government should enforce the design and space of the [passenger seat..if not such aircraft should not be licensed to fly.Leaving this option to the airlines will reduce all aircraft ie Economy class to cattle class .Airlines wish to maximise their profits at the cost of safety and convenience of the passenger.On long haul flights basic passenger comfort is a right.
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Tomcat, MidwayupUK, United Kingdom, about 3 hours ago
It must be obvious to anyone that being jammed in a seat with your legs squashed by the seat in front must make it dangerous, I wonder if the safety tests ever involve people sitting for hours in that position and then trying to evacuate in 90 seconds.
ReplyNew Comment044Click to rate

Getaneducation, Mid Levels, Hong Kong, about 4 hours ago
I know people often complain about the cost of air travel but when you sit down and work out fuel flow per mile and divide that by the amount of passengers, you’ll find that you’re getting a better deal than driving a car! I’m a big believer in travelling with a safe airline regardless of what cabin you can afford to travel in. SKYTRAX is not and has never been the authority on safety. You’re best off looking at raw data. If you want a bit of a short cut you can go to a site like airsafe.com and look at the no passenger fatality area (most data since 1970 but look carefully as new airlines have their commencement year annotated). My money is on the airlines which have been around since 1970 or before that time and have had no passenger fatalities. You can’t argue with facts like that.
ReplyNew Comment38Click to rate

BaliRob, Bali, about 2 hours ago
Posters do not want a history lesson BUT to question and highlight the present disgraceful conditions all of us that cannot afford Business Class have to experience. Notice nobody has mentioned the dangerous recycled air – I average a chest infection two out of every four long haul flights. We must be insane to fly.
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Chris Baker, Hampshire, United Kingdom, about 4 hours ago
If an airline introduces a new layout, then that layout should pass evacuation tests.
ReplyNew Comment028Click to rate

thelearnedman, eton, UAE, about 5 hours ago
the greedy airlines dont care,they would stack the dumb sheep on top of each other if they could……..i.fly first class to avoid the unwashed cattle,so should you.
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2 of 3 repliesSee all replies

Tom, United Kingdom, United Kingdom, about 4 hours ago
I bet you’ve never even been on a plane.
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AN, London, about 2 hours ago
Well “thelearnedman” eton…..most people can’t afford to fly first class, there is often over a thousand pounds difference in the price of an economy to a first class ticket.
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juharrogate, harrogate, about 6 hours ago
“AT RISK” – At risk of WHAT ?? The only difference between a crammed space and the existing arrangements is the SPEED & TIME of EVACUATION in the event of an accident. Personally I’m scared to death as it is at the likelihood of some fool ‘collecting their luggage from the overhead lockers’ (as happened at Manchester if you remember) and obstructing the exit route – so maybe increasing the number of occupants increases the probability of stupidity – but it doesn’t change the probability of “the Incident” in the first place (and it reduces the number of flights which of itself reduces the risk of incident

Wider seats!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3043242/Dawn-superwide-plane-seat-Designer-wins-award-specialist-chair-obese-passengers-switch-booster-seat-toddlers-parents.html

Dawn of the supersize plane seat: Extra wide chair unveiled for overweight passengers (which doubles as booster for toddlers and parents)
The SANTO seat (Special Accommodation Needs for Toddlers and Overweight Passengers) won the prize for Passenger Comfort Hardware
The Crystal Cabin Awards took place this week in Hamburg, Germany
The SII Deutschland design is one-and-a-half times the usual chair width
By BECKY PEMBERTON FOR MAILONLINE

PUBLISHED: 04:36 EST, 17 April 2015 | UPDATED: 09:21 EST, 17 April 2015

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A plane seat specifically targeted at making plane travel more comfortable for obese passengers and small children has won a prize for its innovation vision this week.

The adapted chair by SII Deutschland, beat off competition from 21 finalists to win the Passenger Comfort Hardware award at The Crystal Cabin Awards in Hamburg, Germany.

Sitting at one-and-a-half times the width of a standard seat, the SANTO seat (Special Accommodation Needs for Toddlers and Overweight Passengers) aims to improve aircrew procedure and passenger safety.

Passenger Comfort Hardware winner: The SANTO seat by SII Deutschland is larger than usual seats, and makes use of space at the back of aircraft where the fuselage narrows
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Passenger Comfort Hardware winner: The SANTO seat by SII Deutschland is larger than usual seats, and makes use of space at the back of aircraft where the fuselage narrows

The adapted seat would make use of the usually wasted space at the back of aircraft, where the fuselage narrows.

It would be a larger version of the aircraft chairs, meaning a wider passenger could comfortably and safety fit in the chair, without disrupting the neighbouring customer.

As the SANTO seat has an extra half a seat width, a baby seat could be fitted securely into the chair, with enough space for a regular customer to sit alongside without paying for an extra seat.

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The designs were judged by a team of 24 experts, including panel chairwoman Melissa Raudebaugh, General Manager of Aircraft Experience at Delta Air Lines.

‘Selecting the Crystal Cabin Award winners was a tough decision this year, as all finalists were of very high quality – ranging from renowned manufacturers to inspiring university concepts, which we will hopefully see flying soon’, said Raudebaugh, as reported by PR Newswire.

The seat won the prize as part of the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, and addresses the issue of the safety for obese passengers
The seat won the prize as part of the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, and addresses the issue of the safety for obese passengers

Not only being space effective, the larger chair aims to address the on-going debate about whether to charge obese passengers for two seats.

Some American airlines have adopted this principle if customers are unable to buckle their seatbelt without the use of a seatbelt extender.

In 2011 a male passenger claims he was forced to stand for seven hours in the aisle of a plane on his US Airways flight, from Anchorage to Philadelphia, as a 400lb man took up a lot of his seat.

Another solution was put forward by Samoa Air in 2013 charging customers depending on their weight, in a bid to reduce fuel costs.

Visitors look at Expliseat wide seats weighing four kilos at the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2014. It is the leading trade fair for aircraft cabin designers and presents novelties in design, entertainment and connectivity
Visitors look at Expliseat wide seats weighing four kilos at the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2014. It is the leading trade fair for aircraft cabin designers and presents novelties in design, entertainment and connectivity

The Crystal Cabin Awards were awarded as part of Aircraft Interiors Expo which aims to showcase world’s most advanced and creative ideas for the aircraft cabin.

The SANTO was not the only seat design aiming to solve the issue of comfort when it comes to overweight passengers. Expliseat also displayed wider seating designs to accommodate larger passnegers.

Prestigious aviation companies such as B/E Aerospace and Etihad Airways showed their concepts at the international trade fair of aircraft interiors which took place from April 14 to 16.

Other awarded ideas included B/E Aerospace’s solar cell films on cabin windows, and a vacuum technology to reduce space of waste by lavatories and trash bags created by Hamburg University of A

S

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Dr Oz “Charlatan” Colleagues Tell Columbia

Daily Mail has this story April 17 2015
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3042830/Physicians-want-Dr-Oz-gone-Columbia-medical-faculty.html#comments

Doctors campaign to get ‘charlatan’ Dr Oz booted from Columbia University faculty because of his ‘lack of integrity’ and ‘quack treatments’
Mehmet Oz is on staff at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons
Dr Oz is the vice chairman and professor of surgery at the medical school
Group of ten top doctors sent letter to school urging for Oz’s dismissal
Said there’s no scientific proof his ‘miracle’ weight-loss supplements work
Columbia said it ‘is committed to the principle of academic freedom’
University has not removed TV celebrity doctor from his faculty position
By EVAN BLEIER FOR DAILYMAIL.COM and ASSOCIATED PRESS

PUBLISHED: 20:45 EST, 16 April 2015 | UPDATED: 08:01 EST, 17 April 2015

Dr Mehmet Oz losing authority for popularity

Ten top doctors sent a letter to Columbia University urging the school to remove TV celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz from his faculty position because he is a ‘charlatan’ who promotes ‘quack treatments’.

Dr Oz, 54, is the vice chairman and professor of surgery at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The Harvard-educated doctor joined the faculty at Columbia in 1993.

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Ten top doctors sent a letter to Columbia University urging the school to remove TV celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz from his faculty position because he is a ‘charlatan’ who promotes ‘quack treatments’
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Ten top doctors sent a letter to Columbia University urging the school to remove TV celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz from his faculty position because he is a ‘charlatan’ who promotes ‘quack treatments’

The doctors sent the letter to Lee Goldman, the dean of Columbia’s Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine.

Dr Henry Miller of California’s Stanford University led the effort and he was the first person to sign the letter, the New York Daily News reported.

Columbia’s Medical and Health Sciences Center
Columbia’s Medical and Health Sciences Center

Miller said: ‘He’s a quack and a fake and a charlatan.

‘I think I know the motivation at Columbia.

‘They’re star-struck, and like having on their faculty the best-known doctor in the country.

‘But the fact is that his advice endangers patients, and this doesn’t seem to faze them.’

The nine other doctors from across the country included Dr Joel Tepper, a cancer researcher from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and Dr Gilbert Ross of the American Council on Science and Health in New York City.

The physicians accused Dr Oz of pushing ‘miracle’ weight-loss supplements with no scientific proof that they work.

The doctors wrote that Oz, for years a world-class Columbia cardiothoracic surgeon, has ‘misled and endangered’ the public.

The letter read: ‘He has manifested an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain.

‘Thus, Dr Oz is guilty of either outrageous conflicts of interest or flawed judgments about what constitutes appropriate medical treatments, or both.

From left to right, Dr Phil McGraw, financial advisor Suze Orman, host Oprah Winfrey, Dr Mehmet Oz and interior designer Nate Berkus participate in The Oprah Winfrey Show live from Radio City Music Hall in 2010

nsr oprah stars lineup - authorities for the masses

nsr oprah stars lineup – authorities for the masses

The New York Ivy League school responded Thursday, issuing a statement to The Associated Press saying only that the school ‘is committed to the principle of academic freedom and to upholding faculty members’ freedom of expression for statements they make in public discussion.’

Dr Oz first came to public attention as a frequent television guest of Oprah Winfrey.

For the past five years, he’s been the host of The Dr Oz Show.

Last year, he appeared before a US Senate panel that accused him of endorsing products that were medically unsound.

At the time, the doctor acknowledged some of the products he advised his viewers to use ‘don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact.’

A show representative did not immediately return a call Thursday from the AP seeking comment.

As vice chairman of Columbia’s surgery department, Dr Oz still occasionally teaches, said Douglas Levy, spokesman for the Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. Oz testifies at hearing on deceptive weight-loss ads

Read more:
www.nydailynews….

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Zap Those Neurons: Gentle Current Makes Brain Stand to Attention

Lining up the neurons

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/gentle-electrical-jolt-can-focus-sluggish-mind/

How a gentle electrical jolt can focus a sluggish mind
March 31, 2015 at 6:20 PM EDT

JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: a report on how researchers are exploring whether a small zap to the brain may actually be helpful. The idea? Possibly boosting performance and improving brain activity in some cases.

Our guide is our science correspondent, Miles O’Brien.

MILES O’BRIEN: If you’re like me, you really can’t start the day without a little jolt.

MAROM BIKSON, The City College of New York: This is the simulator itself that’s going to be providing the actual current that’s going to your head.

MILES O’BRIEN: But step aside, grande latte. There’s a new kid on the block.

MAROM BIKSON: So, current is going to come out of the device to the electrodes on your forehead and it’s going to flow through your head.

MILES O’BRIEN: Biomedical engineer Marom Bikson at the City College of New York is prepping me for a dose of transcranial direct current stimulation, or TDCS, a jump-start for my brain.

MAROM BIKSON: It can make the brain perhaps function information more effectively and therefore make you, let’s say, better at things. Or it can make the brain more likely to undergo plasticity, more malleable, more able to learn.

MILES O’BRIEN: A human brain has 100 billion nerve cells or neurons. Neurons are networkers. They make multiple connections with each other via synapses. We have about 100 trillion of them. All of this runs on electricity that we generate ourselves.

MAROM BIKSON: Now, this was the montage that we tried on you.

MILES O’BRIEN: It turns out each of our neurons is a microscopic battery with a-tenth of a volt of electricity. When we’re using them to remember things or do math or write this story, they fire electrical spikes.

MAROM BIKSON: When we’re adding electricity to the brain with TDCS, instead of a tenth of a volt, we’re producing a 1,000th-of-a-volt change, so it’s not enough to trigger a spike. It’s not enough to generate a spike, but it’s enough to modulate the spikes, to maybe get more spikes or to get less spikes.

ACTRESS: This will keep you from biting your tongue. Now just bite down on it.

MILES O’BRIEN: When you think of the human brain and electricity, there is a good chance you might conjure up this intense image. The treatment powerfully depicted in the 1975 Oscar-winning movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is called electroconvulsive therapy.

It’s delivers big jolts of alternating current to treat severe depression. It is still used as a last resort, but in reality it is painless. So is TDCS, which uses direct current, roughly equivalent to a nine-volt battery.

The basic idea goes back to the Romans, who used electric fish as a headache cure. But in 2000, some German scientists published this paper, which proved weak electrical current can modulate brain activity. Ever since, scientific interest in TDCS has amped up steadily.

MAROM BIKSON: So that’s it.

MILES O’BRIEN: My TDCS session lasted 20 minutes. All I felt was a little bit of tingling in my scalp. It didn’t hurt a bit.

MAROM BIKSON: You may need a paper towel.

MILES O’BRIEN: OK. I got one here.

I felt great. It was like I had a jolt of caffeine without the tense feeling. And for several hours afterwards, I felt extremely clear-headed. But is that all there is?

MAROM BIKSON: The theory is that when you now combine TDCS with things like training or clinical therapy, you can make those things more effective. You sort of prime the brain, and now you’re combining it with some other intervention, like trying to learn something.

MILES O’BRIEN: With that much promise, there should be no surprise TDCS has captured the attention of serious researchers. But it has also inspired a lot of people looking for fast cash or a fast way to try and juice their gray matter. You can buy the TDCS device online for about $100. Or you can go to YouTube and see how to build one yourself.

MAN: So, a cathode goes above the right eye. Learned this from a TDCS video montage I watched.

MILES O’BRIEN: What could go wrong with that?

James Giordano runs the Neuroethics Studies Program at Georgetown University.

JAMES GIORDANO, Georgetown University: Are we just going to sit back and say caveat emptor? But I think that that’s irresponsible. I think much more important is to create particular parameters, perhaps even including a surgeon general’s warning, that says, these are the ways that you should use this. These are the ways that you shouldn’t.

MILES O’BRIEN: At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, biomedical engineer Andy McKinley is exploring ways for the military to exploit TDCS. The Air Force mission has change dramatically in the past decade with the rapid rise of unmanned aerial vehicles. It demands a new kind of right stuff.

ANDY MCKINLEY, 711th Human Performance Wing: It’s like looking through a “Where’s Waldo” book, but Waldo may not be in the book. Keeping your attention for that long, for doing that for an entire shift of eight or 12 hours, is extremely difficult.

MILES O’BRIEN: So he recruited volunteers for some studies.

ANDY MCKINLEY: In this scenario, what you are going to be doing is, there is a market square with a bunch of people milling around.

MILES O’BRIEN: Using software called Vigilant Spirit, sleep-deprived volunteers spend hours looking at a crowded village square trying to identify people carrying guns and a high-value target with a purple hat. Some got stimulation, some coffee, some a placebo.

ANDY MCKINLEY: We found that people that got the stimulation performed about twice as well as the folks that got either caffeine or no stimulation. And that effect lasted about three times as long as caffeine.

MILES O’BRIEN: At this point, Andy had my full attention as well. So he gave me a demo, lacing me up for vigilance assessment called the Mackworth Clock test. Red dots move around the screen like a sweep secondhand, and then, randomly and infrequently, there’s a skip.

ANDY MCKINLEY: So, if it skips a spot, you just push the spacebar to indicate that you saw that.

MILES O’BRIEN: It was mind-numbingly boring. I spent most of my energy just trying to keep my eyes open.

How did I do?

(LAUGHTER)

ANDY MCKINLEY: You got about half of them.

(LAUGHTER)

ANDY MCKINLEY: Actually, you got exactly half.

MILES O’BRIEN: Then he turned on the juice. My brain seemed to switch on like a lightbulb. It was still boring, but I was on it, a red dot watching machine.

ANDY MCKINLEY: You got all but one, and I think that one you missed…

MILES O’BRIEN: … spacebar?

Wow. That’s pretty amazing.

ANDY MCKINLEY: That’s pretty amazing.

MILES O’BRIEN: That’s pretty amazing.

There’s no doubt in my mind it works. The question is, how will we use it?

Michael Weisend is a neuroscientist at Wright State University.

MICHAEL WEISEND, Wright State Research Institute: But I think, in 10 years, we will have some reliable applications that will come — where this will be prescribed, actually. And I think those will be things like depression. Those will be things like ADHD. Who will be things like motor problems that people have.

MILES O’BRIEN: At the University of Minnesota, neuroscientist Bernadette Gillick works with young people, like 20-year-old Maddy Evans, who suffered a stroke in utero. The unaffected side of her brain has taken up the slack and is doing work the stroke side would normally do. ‘

Dr. Gillick thinks TDCS could help rebalance Maddy’s brain, so both hemispheres can contribute to movement.

BERNADETTE GILLICK, University of Minnesota: We’re trying to simultaneously excite brain cells that are still alive in the stroke hemisphere, while inhibiting brain cells on the non-stroke hemisphere.

MILES O’BRIEN: Awakening dormant, yet viable neurons that are best suited for the job could make Maddy’s paralytic hand more active and nimble.

BERNADETTE GILLICK: I think what we’re finding more information out about is, what areas of the brain respond better for what function? It might be that we can move better because we’re doing this, think better, read better, speak better. I think what we’re doing right now is the tip of the iceberg.

MILES O’BRIEN: But there’s still much to learn.

Back at Marom Bikson’s lab, they’re studying rat brains to try and determine exactly what’s happening to the neurons and synapses while they’re stimulated with electricity. It’s important research, but I would rather not wait for it. I want my venti voltage now.

Miles O’Brien, the PBS NewsHour, New York.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/gentle-electrical-jolt-can-focus-sluggish-mind/

Not long ago, the NewsHour’s science correspondent Miles O’Brien tested the effectiveness of brain stimulation by performing a tricky helicopter landing with — and without — a jolt to the brain.

In a simulator at Ohio’s Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Miles maneuvered around obstacles to land at a remote desert landing pad. Then, scientists delivered a 20-minute dose of current roughly equivalent to a 9-volt battery to his brain, turning it on “like a lightbulb.” He returned to the cockpit after getting zapped.

Transcranial direct current stimulation, he explains, relies on direct current to inhibit brain activity in the frontal cortex, the place where we consolidate declarative memories, improving alertness and blocking out distractions. This is just one example of how scientists use weak electrical current to modulate brain activity and boost human performance.

Watch Miles O’Brien’s full report on tonight’s PBS NewsHour.

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Gary Null Platforms Vaccine Critics Evidence Clearing Wakefield Apr 14 2015

nsr gary null in shorts

WBAI NYC. see http://thegarynullshow.podbean.com/

This is Tuesday 16 April.

Previuosu day was The Gary Null Show – 04.13.15

Notes for 15:

Why the pro-vaccine community refuses to openly discuss vaccine safety and efficacy – and the other strategies necessary to empower the vaccine opponents, with Alan Phillips.

Also, the shocking costs of a hospital visit, the latest on how to lessen your chance of a cardiovascular event, 10 common household plants that are harmful to your pets, Omega3 fatty acids can guard against a recurring condition, survival skills your grandparents used every day, and much more.

Alan Phillips is an attorney practicing in Chapel Hill North Carolina. He is the sole leading attorney in the US whose legal practice focuses only on vaccine exemptions, vaccine waivers and legislative activism. He is an Advisory Board member of the American Chiropractic Autism Board, the World Association for Vaccine Education, and is a co-founder of the North Carolina Citizens for Healthcare Freedom. Alan is the author of “The Authoritative Guide to Vaccine Legal Exemptions” and “Dispelling Vaccination Myths: An Introduction to the Contradictions Between Medical Science and Immunization Policy, which has been translated into several languages. Both can be found on his website VaccineRights.com

Previous to that was

The Gary Null Show – 04.09.15

A reappraisal of Andrew Wakefield’s research and his exoneration in light of the legal and scientific evidence – with Andrew Wakefield, Jim Moody, David Lewis.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield is a gastroenterologist and academician specializing in inflammatory bowel disease and the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine or MMR. He is a former Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and has published over 130 original scientific papers and book chapters. His recent has been at the center of the controversy over the safety of the MMR vaccine that continues wage today. In 2001 he was awarded the fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists and he has been a board member of the American charity Medical Interventions for Autism.

Dr. Wakefield is the co-founder and director of the Autism Media Channel which airs on various TV stations –www.AutismMediaChannel.com. His recent documentary “Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis” is a powerful account the US healthcare systems negligence that led to the death of a severely autistic teenager. He is also the author of “Callous Disregard: Autism and Vaccines, The Truth Behind the Tragedy”

Dr. David Lewis is a former senior research microbiologist with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Research and Development department and the only EPA scientist to be a lead author on research published in Nature, the Lancet and Nature Medicine. He was responsible for discovering that HIV could be transmitted through certain dental equipment, which led to the standardization of heat-sterilization in dentistry. His research also forced the EPA to abandon the policy of promoting sewage sludge on farms, which subsequently forced him to lose his job when he turned his attention to studying illnesses and deaths associated with this practice – including biosolids link to autism. Dr. Lewis has received many awards and is currently the Senior Science Advisor to the national Whistleblowers Center. He has also reviewed the research of Dr. Wakefield and has his own case going with Brian Deer.

He is the author of a recently published book: “Science for Sale” which details how the US government uses powerful corporations and leading universities to support policies, silence top scientists, jeopardize public health and protect corporate profits. His current research is focusing on the MMR vaccine.

Jim Moody is Dr. Wakefield’s US attorney and the a director of the family advocacy organization The National Autism Association, which provide excellent resources on autism and vaccine related issues, and a director of the research think tank, Strategic Autism Alliance. He also is a member of the Vaccine Injured Petitioners Bar Association and practices public interest law in Washington.

Jim has degrees in artificial intelligence and management from MIT, and completed his law degree at Georgetown University.

Previously:

The Gary Null Show – 04.08.15

Toni Bark – updates on vaccine legislation. David Korten – changing our industrial society’s focus on self-destruction to value the lives of others and the planet.

Dr. David Korten is the co-founder of YES! Magazine, co-chair of the New Economy Working Group, founder and president of the Living Economies Forum, and a member of the Club of Rome. In the past he has been a faculty member of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business and was an advisor to Harvard’s Central American Institute in Nicaragua. After leaving academia, Dr. Korten spent 15 years in southeast asia with the Ford Foundation, serving as its Asia regional advisor on development. Disillusioned with government and large private international aid programs, he shifted his focus to work directly with Asian NGOs dealing with poverty, inequality, environmental devastation and social disintegration. Dr. Korten’s publications have been required reading in university courses around the world. His most recent book takes a spiritual turn, “Change the Story, Change the Future: A Living Economy for a Living Earth.” His websites are LivingEconomiesForum.org and YesMagazine.org

Dr. Toni Bark is a pediatric physician and a prestigious homeopathic doctor practicing in the Chicago area. She is currently the vice president of the American Institute of Homeopathy and has studied with many of the most famous international homeopathic doctors. In addition to her medical degree from Rush Medical College and pediatric internship at New York University, Dr Bark has degrees in psychology, a masters in Healthcare Emergency Management from Boston University Medical School, and was trained by Dr. Erica Fromm at the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis.

Dr. Bark contributed to Mary Holland’s and Louise Habakus’ important book “The Vaccine Epidemic” and co-produced the new documentary film – “Bought” – which shows how Big Pharma and Big Food have sold out our health.

Her website and blog is www.Disease-Reversal.com

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How to prevent peanut allergy: give babes peanuts

Slowly America learning that early exposure is protective

Dishwashing provides another new example

Best policy – grow up in a farmyard

So good for you and your (non) allergies – barnyard pic by Rob MacInnis

Finally the message seems to be getting through to America that lack of early exposure to antigens is what gives rise to its growing and excessive experience of allergies. In the news is the revolutionary finding that giving babies early enough exposure to peanuts is protective.

About-Face on Preventing Peanut Allergies

Study finds introducing peanuts in many infants’ diets could help avoid the allergies later in childhood

[spoiler title=”Click for whoe story in WSJ” open=”0″ style=”1″]

By

A diet that includes peanuts in the first year of life may greatly reduce the chance of developing peanut allergies in children at risk for getting them, according to a highly anticipated new study.

The findings appear to be the most definitive evidence yet to discount the medical community’s longtime recommendation that parents avoid giving peanut products to young children. That practice has failed to stem the growing rate of peanut allergies. Some doctors now suggest that not eating peanuts may actually have helped spur more allergies.

“We have had a whole ethos within the practice of pediatrics and pediatric allergy that the way to avoid any allergy was avoidance,” said Gideon Lack, a professor of pediatric allergy at King’s College London and senior author of the study, which was published online Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine. “At least with respect to peanuts, avoidance may actually worsen the problem.”

Health experts caution parents not to suddenly start including peanuts in their babies’ diets. Some children are at increased risk for developing allergies and could react adversely if they were to begin eating peanut products. An allergy specialist can test for risk. The study only looked at children at risk for peanut allergies, and some experts said it isn’t clear if the findings apply to all children.

ENLARGE
Getty Images

The growing prevalence of peanut allergies—which have more than quadrupled in the U.S. in the 13 years ended 2010—has puzzled and worried the medical community. More than 2% of children age 18 years and younger have a peanut allergy, according to a 2008 study. Peanut allergies are the leading cause of death related to food allergy in the U.S. and many day-care centers, schools and summer camps enforce no-peanut policies.

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For years doctors advised parents of children at risk for food allergies to avoid peanuts until the child was 3 years old, based on guidelines outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2000. In 2008 the AAP revised its guidelines, citing insufficient evidence that delays prevented the development of food allergies. But the medical group didn’t say when and how highly allergenic foods should be introduced.

The new study, which was also presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology in Houston, found that 17.2% of the children who avoided peanuts until age 5 ended up with a peanut allergy compared with 3.2% of those who regularly ate peanuts, said George Du Toit, a consultant in pediatric allergy at King’s College London and a co-investigator of the study.

“That’s an 80% reduction in peanut allergy,” said Dr. Du Toit. “This is an extremely strong effect.”

Gideon Lack, a professor of pediatric allergy at King’s College London and senior author of the new study. The findings appear to be the most definitive evidence yet to discount the medical community’s longtime recommendation that parents avoid giving peanut products to young children. ENLARGE
Gideon Lack, a professor of pediatric allergy at King’s College London and senior author of the new study. The findings appear to be the most definitive evidence yet to discount the medical community’s longtime recommendation that parents avoid giving peanut products to young children. Photo: Kings College London

The study followed 640 children from the United Kingdom at risk for developing peanut allergies for about five years. The children were enrolled in the trial between the ages of 4 months and 11 months. They were considered at risk for peanut allergy if they had severe eczema or egg allergies.

The children were divided into two groups based on the results of a skin-prick test to assess sensitivity to peanuts. About 85% of the participants had negative test results, meaning they showed no evidence of peanut allergy. The rest had a minor reaction to the test, indicating they were starting to develop an allergy to peanuts.

Children in each group were then randomly assigned to either completely avoid peanut products or to regularly consume them. Parents of the children eating peanuts were instructed to give them at least two grams (roughly eight peanuts) of peanut protein three times a week.

In the negative skin test group—those with no sign of a peanut allergy at the start of the study—13.7% of the children who avoided peanuts developed an allergy. That compared with just 1.9% of the children who consumed peanut protein.

In the group that had positive skin test results—suggesting the beginning of a peanut allergy—the difference was 35.3% versus 10.6%.

The study showed consuming peanuts appeared to keep the immune system from becoming sensitized to peanut protein, known as primary allergy prevention. It also appeared to block an allergic disease from developing after the immune system had been sensitized, known as secondary prevention.

The researchers are currently working on a follow-up study to see whether the children in the peanut-consumption group would remain allergy-free if they subsequently stopped eating peanuts for an extended period. The results of that study are expected later in 2015.

While researchers believe delayed introduction to certain foods may have played a role in the increased prevalence of food allergies, there are many other possible factors. Some experts believe that as westernized countries have become more hygienic, children aren’t exposed to the same level of germs, which can affect the development of the immune system.

Some experts say it is likely that early introduction of other highly allergenic foods—such as eggs, fish and dairy products—also could help prevent allergies, but more studies are needed.

“We wouldn’t presume there’s anything particularly unique about peanuts in this situation so the same philosophy would pertain to other common food allergens,” said Robert Wood, director of pediatric allergy and immunology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who didn’t participate in the peanut study.

Another continuing study by Dr. Lack is testing a variety of foods. The research includes more than 1,300 children randomly assigned to either exclusively be breast-fed for six months or to be breast-fed for three months and then start eating a diverse diet, including all of the highly allergenic foods. Preliminary data are expected later in 2015, Dr. Lack said.

Since the American Academy of Pediatrics revised its peanut guidelines in 2008, some doctors say their advice to parents has been vague.

“We weren’t suggesting avoidance but we weren’t advocating for early introduction either,” said Rebecca Gruchalla, a professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “We weren’t really making firm statements one way or the other whereas now we will.”

Dr. Gruchalla and Hugh Sampson, director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, wrote an editorial in the NEJM to accompany the new research, saying they believe the “landmark” study warrants new guidelines for when to introduce peanuts into children’s diets.

Both doctors say they plan to give new advice to parents whose infants are at risk for developing a peanut allergy. These children should get a skin test to check for reactions between 4 months and 8 months of age, Drs. Sampson and Gruchalla say. If the test is negative the children should be started on a diet that includes peanut products. If it is positive, the children should do a peanut challenge with an allergy specialist to be sure they can tolerate peanuts before introducing it into the diet, they say.

The study could be a “practice changer,” but it remains to be seen if the findings also apply to babies who don’t appear to be at risk for a peanut allergy but go on to develop one anyway, said Donald Leung, head of pediatric allergy and immunology at National Jewish Health in Denver, who didn’t participate in the study. “This is a special group of people that they studied. We don’t know if it applies to all people who have a tendency to get peanut allergies,” he said.

Other experts say parents should generally feel free to introduce a variety of foods—including highly allergenic ones like peanuts—to children. Dr. Lack said babies with no eczema or family history of peanut allergies who have begun eating solid foods should be encouraged to have peanut products. “Even the low-risk [children] can develop peanut allergy,” he said.

The new research into when peanuts can be consumed “completely turns on its ear what we were told to do as parents,” said Janet Atwater, of Chadds Ford, Pa. Her 17-year-old son was diagnosed with a peanut allergy at 11 months and now always carries two EpiPens, used to inject a hormone in the event of anaphylaxis from accidentally ingesting peanuts.

Although the findings won’t help her son, “I’m thrilled for the next generation of kids,” said Ms. Atwater, who is on the board of Food Allergy Research & Education, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Write to Sumathi Reddy at sumathi.reddy@wsj.com

[/spoiler]

Allergy-Conscious Dishwashing in Times

Anahad O’Connor  In Brief Childhood

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/23/allergy-risk-may-be-tied-to-how-you-wash-your-dishes/?_r=0

Allergy Risk May Be Tied to How You Wash Your Dishes

By

A new study suggests that parents who wash their dishes by hand, rather than in a dishwashing machine, may unwittingly lower the likelihood that their children will develop allergies.

Click for rest

All this is in line with the piece in the Times a while back that if you grow up in a farm yard, you will have few if any allergies.  Where is that one?

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/opinion/sunday/a-cure-for-the-allergy-epidemic.html?pagewanted=all

The actual study reported in the Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/1999/oct/12/healthandwellbeing.health3

WONDERFUL PICTURES at http://odlee.blogspot.com/2011/06/barnyard-portraits.html

Rob MacInnis’ pics

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Smoking ban extended life, and bars and restaurants multiplied, in NYC

Bloomberg crowing about nonsmoking boost

Bloomberg crowing about nonsmoking boost

Eating and drinking establishments multiplied like mushrooms in NYC after the 2004 smoking ban was imposed by Bloomberg, who sees cause not correlation.

The number of permits for restaurants, bars and cafes rose more than 27% to 23,705 at the start of fiscal year 2015 this July from 18,606 in fiscal year 2006, according to the city Department of Health.

Bloomberg: 6,000 more bars and restaurants in NYC since 2003 smoking ban

 

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Adjustable specs

nsr adjustable glassesEconomist blog Babbage

http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2012/06/adjustable-spectacles

Adjustable spectacles
Seeing clearly
Jun 5th 2012, 13:33 BY THE ECONOMIST ONLINE
Timekeeper

MILLIONS around the world would have their lives improved by a pair of glasses, but cannot afford one. The problem is particularly acute in East Asia where, according to a recent report in the Lancet, as many as 90% of school leavers suffer from myopia. This high prevalence of short-sightedness (the comparable figure in the West is about 10-20%) is probably a result of the long hours of close work that many such pupils put in over the years of their youth. A visit to an optician to get a pair of spectacles with custom-made lenses will correct the problem, of course. But at a price not all can afford.

How to help such people is a problem with which Joshua Silver has been grappling for many years, while continuing his day job as an atomic physicist at the University of Oxford. His answer is cheap, self-adjusting glasses designed so that users can alter the power of the lenses in order to correct their own eyesight.

This idea is not new. The first published example of a variable-focus eye glass that Dr Silver can find is the “dynamoptometre”. This was described by Dr Cusco, a Parisian physician, in a paper in La Nature in 1880. Cusco’s tabletop contraption involved a fluid-filled lens that could be adjusted by pumping water in and out. Dr Silver’s first lenses, developed in the 1980s, worked similarly. They consisted of two polyester membranes with a water-filled gap between. The more water in the gap, the greater the curvature of the lens and thus the greater the magnification.

Over the years Dr Silver has refined the design. Instead of water, he employs a transparent silicone fluid developed by Dow Corning for use in scientific instruments. And instead of the original, rather goggle-like design, the latest version has light, thin frames. He has also founded the Centre for Vision in the Developing World (CVDW), and produced more than 40,000 pairs of adjustable glasses. Some have been used in trials, including several in rural China and India, in which young people with poor vision in at least one eye were able to correct their own vision.

That is done with a pair of small syringes attached, one to each side of the frame (see picture). Each syringe is operated by turning a small dial. Using one eye at a time, while looking at an eyechart, the wearer alters the curvature of the lenses until he can see clearly. When he has finished, he seals the lenses with clips and detaches the syringes.

Dr Silver reckons it will be possible to make this version of the glasses for about $20 a pair, and perhaps much less than that. They would come as part of a kit that included instructions and the eye chart. Later this year, with the support of Dow Corning, the CVDW hopes to begin the production and distribution of 50,000 pairs to China, India and Indonesia.

User-adjusted glasses could also help with eye conditions besides myopia—for example presbyopia, a common age-related condition that diminishes the ability to focus on nearby objects, and thus to be able to read. Dr Silver suspects adjustable reading glasses may find a role in the rich world, too. And one pair, at least, has already done so. These are at Lézard Bleu, a restaurant near Dr Silver’s home in Vieussan, in the south of France. They have had their syringes attached permanently, so that diners who forget their reading glasses can use them to focus clearly on the menu.

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Bias Hidden but Real

Two Op Ed Times pieces recently and another on unconscious bias

nsr lovely but black

Feb 21 Sun Kristof Straight Talk for White Men

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/22/opinion/sunday/nicholas-kristof-straight-talk-for-white-men.html

 

SUPERMARKET shoppers are more likely to buy French wine when French music is playing, and to buy German wine when they hear German music. That’s true even though only 14 percent of shoppers say they noticed the music, a study finds.

Researchers discovered that candidates for medical school interviewed on sunny days received much higher ratings than those interviewed on rainy days. Being interviewed on a rainy day was a setback equivalent to having an MCAT score 10 percent lower, according to a new book called “Everyday Bias,” by Howard J. Ross.

Those studies are a reminder that we humans are perhaps less rational than we would like to think, and more prone to the buffeting of unconscious influences. That’s something for those of us who are white men to reflect on when we’re accused of “privilege.”

[spoiler title=”Expand” open=”0″ style=”1″]

White men sometimes feel besieged and baffled by these suggestions of systematic advantage. When I wrote a series last year, “When Whites Just Don’t Get It,” the reaction from white men was often indignant: It’s an equal playing field now! Get off our case!

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Yet the evidence is overwhelming that unconscious bias remains widespread in ways that systematically benefit both whites and men. So white men get a double dividend, a payoff from both racial and gender biases.

Consider a huge interactive exploration of 14 million reviews on RateMyProfessors.com that recently suggested that male professors are disproportionately likely to be described as a “star” or “genius.” Female professors are disproportionately described as “nasty,” “ugly,” “bossy” or “disorganized.”

One reaction from men was: Well, maybe women professors are more disorganized!

But researchers at North Carolina State conducted an experiment in which they asked students to rate teachers of an online course (the students never saw the teachers). To some of the students, a male teacher claimed to be female and vice versa.

When students were taking the class from someone they believed to be male, they rated the teacher more highly. The very same teacher, when believed to be female, was rated significantly lower.

Something similar happens with race.

Two scholars, Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan, sent out fictitious résumés in response to help-wanted ads. Each résumé was given a name that either sounded stereotypically African-American or one that sounded white, but the résumés were otherwise basically the same.

The study found that a résumé with a name like Emily or Greg received 50 percent more callbacks than the same résumé with a name like Lakisha or Jamal. Having a white-sounding name was as beneficial as eight years’ work experience.

Then there was the study in which researchers asked professors to evaluate the summary of a supposed applicant for a post as laboratory manager, but, in some cases, the applicant was named John and in others Jennifer. Everything else was the same.

“John” was rated an average of 4.0 on a 7-point scale for competence, “Jennifer” a 3.3. When asked to propose an annual starting salary for the applicant, the professors suggested on average a salary for “John” almost $4,000 higher than for “Jennifer.”

It’s not that we white men are intentionally doing anything wrong, but we do have a penchant for obliviousness about the way we are beneficiaries of systematic unfairness. Maybe that’s because in a race, it’s easy not to notice a tailwind, and white men often go through life with a tailwind, while women and people of color must push against a headwind.

While we don’t notice systematic unfairness, we do observe specific efforts to redress it — such as affirmative action, which often strikes white men as profoundly unjust. Thus a majority of white Americans surveyed in a 2011 study said that there is now more racism against whites than against blacks.

None of these examples mean exactly that society is full of hard-core racists and misogynists. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, a Duke University sociologist, aptly calls the present situation “racism without racists”; it could equally be called “misogyny without misogynists.” Of course, there are die-hard racists and misogynists out there, but the bigger problem seems to be well-meaning people who believe in equal rights yet make decisions that inadvertently transmit both racism and sexism.

So, come on, white men! Let’s just acknowledge that we’re all flawed, biased and sometimes irrational, and that we can do more to resist unconscious bias. That means trying not to hire people just because they look like us, avoiding telling a young girl she’s “beautiful” while her brother is “smart.” It means acknowledging systematic bias as a step toward correcting it.

I invite you to visit my blog, On the Ground. Please also join me on Facebook and Google+, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter.

Feb 24 When Whites Get a Free Pass  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/24/opinion/research-shows-white-privilege-is-real.html

 

When Whites Get a Free Pass

Research Shows White Privilege is Real

By IAN AYRES

NEW HAVEN — THE recent reunion show for the 40th anniversary of “Saturday Night Live” re-aired a portion of Eddie Murphy’s 1984 classic “White Like Me” skit, in which he disguised himself to appear Caucasian and quickly learned that “when white people are alone, they give things to each other for free.”

The joke still has relevance. A field experiment about who gets free bus rides in Brisbane, a city on the eastern coast of Australia, shows that even today, whites get special privileges, particularly when other people aren’t around to notice.

As they describe in two working papers, Redzo Mujcic and Paul Frijters, economists at the University of Queensland, trained and assigned 29 young adult testers (from both genders and different ethnic groups) to board public buses in Brisbane and insert an empty fare card into the bus scanner. After the scanner made a loud sound informing the driver that the card did not have enough value, the testers said, “I do not have any money, but I need to get to” a station about 1.2 miles away. (The station varied according to where the testers boarded.)

With more than 1,500 observations, the study uncovered substantial, statistically significant race discrimination. Bus drivers were twice as willing to let white testers ride free as black testers (72 percent versus 36 percent of the time). Bus drivers showed some relative favoritism toward testers who shared their own race, but even black drivers still favored white testers over black testers (allowing free rides 83 percent versus 68 percent of the time).

The study also found that racial disparities persisted when the testers wore business attire or dressed in army uniforms. For example, testers wearing army uniforms were allowed to ride free 97 percent of the time if they were white, but only 77 percent of the time if they were black.

This elegant experiment follows in a tradition of audit testing, in which social scientists have sent testers of different races to, for example, bargain over the price of new cars or old baseball cards. But the Australian study is the first, to my knowledge, to focus on discretionary accommodations. It’s less likely these days to find people in positions of authority, even at lower levels of decision making, consciously denying minorities rights. But it is easier to imagine decision makers, like the bus drivers, granting extra privileges and accommodations to nonminorities. Discriminatory gifts are more likely than discriminatory denials.

A police officer is an out-and-out bigot if she targets innocent blacks for speeding tickets. But an officer who is more likely to give a pass to white motorists who exceed the speed limit than to black ones is also discriminating, even if with little or no conscious awareness. This is one reason the Twitter hashtag #crimingwhilewhite is so powerful: It draws attention to the racially biased exercise of discretion by police officers, prosecutors and judges, which results in whites getting a pass for the kinds of offenses for which minorities are punished.

Racial discrimination is more likely in settings in which both decision makers and bystanders cannot easily observe how comparable nonminorities are treated. A restaurant is unlikely to charge Hispanics higher prices for a hamburger, because the victim could compare her bill to the price listed on the menu. But one-off accommodations where the decision maker retains substantial discretion don’t offer any easy point of comparison. My kids, who are white, have never been turned down when I asked if they could use a bathroom designated for “employees only.” After reading the Australian bus study, I wonder whether the same is true for minority families.

The bus study underscores this point. Drivers were more likely to let testers ride free when there were fewer people on the bus to observe the transaction. And the drivers themselves were probably not aware that they were treating minorities differently. When drivers, in a questionnaire conducted after the field test, were shown photographs of the testers and asked how they would respond, hypothetically, to a free-ride request, they indicated no statistically significant bias against minorities in the photos (86 percent said they would let the black individual ride free).

Of course, unconscious bias might play out differently in the United States than in Australia. But research in America, too, suggests that decision makers use discretion to bestow benefits in a discriminatory fashion. For example, a recent study of 22 law firms by Arin N. Reeves, a lawyer and sociologist, found that partners were less critical of a junior lawyer’s draft memo if they were told the lawyer was white than if they were told the lawyer was black.

What does white privilege mean today? In part, it means to live in the world while being given the benefit of the doubt. Have you ever been able to return a sweater without a receipt? Has an employee ever let you into a store after closing time? Did a car dealership take a little extra off the sticker price when you asked? When’s the last time you received service with a smile?

White privilege doesn’t (usually) operate as brazenly and audaciously as in the Eddie Murphy joke, but it continues in the form of discretionary benefits, many of them unconscious ones. These privileges are hard to eradicate, but essential to understand.

Ian Ayres is a law professor at Yale.

 

Also

Is Everyone a Little Bit Racist?

  Kristof

 

Let’s start with what we don’t know: the precise circumstances under which a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., shot dead an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown.

But here’s what evidence does strongly suggest: Young black men in America suffer from widespread racism and stereotyping, by all society — including African-Americans themselves.

Research in the last couple of decades suggests that the problem is not so much overt racists. Rather, the larger problem is a broad swath of people who consider themselves enlightened, who intellectually believe in racial equality, who deplore discrimination, yet who harbor unconscious attitudes that result in discriminatory policies and behavior.

Scholars have found that blacks and Hispanics treated by doctors for a broken leg received pain medication significantly less often than white patients with the same injury. School administrators suspend black students at more than three times the rate of white students. Police arrest blacks at 3.7 times the rate of whites for marijuana possession, even though surveys find that both use marijuana at roughly similar rates.

Two scholars sent out nearly 5,000 résumés in response to help-wanted ads, randomly alternating between stereotypically white-sounding names and black-sounding names. They found that it took 50 percent more mailings to get a callback for a black name. A white name yielded as much benefit as eight years of experience, according to the study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

These doctors, principals, prosecutors and recruiters probably believe in equality and are unaware that they are discriminating. So any national conversation about race must be a vivisection of challenges far broader and deeper than we might like to think.

Joshua Correll of the University of Colorado at Boulder has used an online shooter video game to try to measure these unconscious attitudes (you can play the game yourself). The player takes on the role of a police officer who is confronted with a series of images of white or black men variously holding guns or innocent objects such as wallets or cellphones. The aim is to shoot anyone with a gun while holstering your weapon in other cases.

Ordinary players (often university undergraduates) routinely shoot more quickly at black men than at white men, and are more likely to mistakenly shoot an unarmed black man than an unarmed white man.

I’m typical. The first time I took the test, years ago, I shot armed blacks in an average of 0.679 seconds while waiting slightly longer — 0.694 seconds — to shoot armed whites. I also holstered more quickly when confronted with unarmed whites than with unarmed blacks.

In effect, we have a more impulsive trigger finger when confronted by black men and are more cautious with whites. This is true of black players as well, apparently because they absorb the same cultural values as everyone else: Correll has found no statistically significant difference between the play of blacks and that of whites in the shooting game.

“There’s a whole culture that promotes this idea of aggressive young black men,” Correll notes. “In our minds, young black men are associated with danger.”

Further evidence for these unconscious attitudes toward race come from implicit association tests, a window into how our unconscious minds work. You can take them online at https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/.

One finding is that we unconsciously associate “American” with “white.” Thus, in 2008, some California college students — many who were supporting Barack Obama for president — unconsciously treated Obama as more foreign than Tony Blair, the former British prime minister. Likewise, Americans may be factually aware that Lucy Liu is an American actress and Kate Winslet is British, but the tests indicated that Americans considered Liu as more foreign than Winslet.

Yet we needn’t surrender to our most atavistic impulses. Prejudice is not immutable, and over all the progress in America on race is remarkable. In 1958, 4 percent of Americans approved of black-white marriages; today, 87 percent do.

There’s some evidence that training, metrics and policies can suppress biases or curb their impact. In law enforcement, more cameras — police car cams and body cams — create accountability and may improve behavior. When Rialto, Calif., introduced body cams on police officers, there was an 88 percent decline in complaints filed about police by members of the public.

Yet an uncomfortable starting point is to understand that racial stereotyping remains ubiquitous, and that the challenge is not a small number of twisted white supremacists but something infinitely more subtle and complex: People who believe in equality but who act in ways that perpetuate bias and inequality.

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New Antibiotics Needed – Pharmas Giving Up

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/24/opinion/how-to-develop-new-antibiotics.html

 

nsr girl looking at bacteria dishes

 

THE bacteria are winning.

Every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least two million people are infected with bacteria that can’t be wiped out with antibiotics, and as a result, 23,000 people die. Direct health care costs from these illnesses are estimated to be as high as $20 billion annually.

Just last week, the U.C.L.A. Health System announced that nearly 180 patients may have been exposed to the CRE superbug that was linked to two deaths in one of its hospitals. Today, 30 percent of severe strep pneumonia infections are resistant to multiple drugs and 30 percent of gonorrhea infections are resistant to all antibiotics. And drug-resistant enterobacteriaceae, enterococcus, acinetobacter and a slew of other unpronounceable bacteria pose serious threats.

The development of antibiotics has been glacial. We need a completely new approach.

The number of F.D.A.-approved antibiotics has decreased steadily in the past two decades. The big pharmaceutical companies have largely stopped work on these drugs. Pfizer, long the leader in developing antibiotics, closed its antibiotic research operations in 2011. Smaller biotech companies now account for 80 percent of antibiotic development. There are now about 40 new antibiotics in development. That might sound promising — but not when compared with the 771 new drugs and vaccines in clinical trials or awaiting F.D.A. review for cancer. And most of these antibiotics are unlikely to come out of the testing process as F.D.A.-approved drugs.

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Scientology’s Chilling Effect

scientology tom cruises into blankland

scientology tom cruises into blankland

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/24/opinion/joe-nocera-scientologys-chilling-effect.html?_r=0

When I was at Fortune magazine in the 1990s, one of my colleagues was a reporter named Richard Behar. He had a special lock on his door, and he wouldn’t even let the janitor in to empty his wastebasket. He used a secret phone, which he kept hidden in a desk drawer, so that calls made to sources couldn’t be traced back to him.

At first, I just thought he was paranoid. But I soon learned that he had come by his paranoia honestly. In May 1991, as a correspondent for Time magazine, Behar had written an exposé of Scientology, calling it a “hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner.”

Before the article was published, Behar says, he was followed by private detectives, who also contacted acquaintances, asking whether he had financial problems. After its publication, that sort of harassment continued, he says — along with a major libel suit. Although the suit was eventually dismissed, it took years, and cost millions of dollars to defend. Behar’s deposition alone lasted 28 days.

What brings this to mind is Alex Gibney’s fine new HBO documentary about Scientology, “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” which is based on the book “Going Clear” by Lawrence Wright. (Disclosure: I played a small role in Gibney’s 2005 documentary on Enron.) “Going Clear,” which was shown at Sundance in late January, is scheduled to air on HBO on March 29.

It is virtually impossible to tell the story of Scientology without getting into the issue of intimidation. As the film notes, going on the offensive against its critics is part of Scientology’s doctrine, handed down by its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. “It is the antithesis of turn the other cheek,” says Marty Rathbun, a former high-ranking official who left the church in 2004 and has since been subjected to Scientology harassment, as the film documents. It also retells the story, first reported in The New York Times, of how, in 1993, Scientology won a 25-year fight against the Internal Revenue Service, which had refused to grant it nonprofit status. Scientologists filed several thousand lawsuits, against not just the I.R.S. but individual I.R.S. officials, and hired private detectives to look for dirt and conduct surveillance operations.

etc

Remind you of anything?

 

 

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Poker Cracked by Computer – Not

Don’t worry – the machine can’t beat this yet

http://www.wsj.com/articles/computer-conquers-texas-hold-em-canadian-researchers-say-1420743623
WSJ publishes misleading article claiming a computer can beat all comers at poker – but a close look says not yet.

It repeats the story of the Deep Blue beating Kasparov in 1997 – also misleading, since Kasparov was evidently still the superior player per se, just overcome by nervous imagination.
[spoiler title=”Click for whole story” open=”0″ style=”1″] WSJ
TECHNOLOGY
Computer Conquers Texas Hold ‘Em, Researchers Say
Advances in Artificial Intelligence Allow Program to Play Poker Almost Perfectly, New Paper Asserts
University of Alberta Prof. Michael Bowling, seated, and Michael Johanson, with his back to camera, showing the Cepheus poker program on their laptops. ENLARGE
University of Alberta Prof. Michael Bowling, seated, and Michael Johanson, with his back to camera, showing the Cepheus poker program on their laptops. JOHN ULAN/UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA
By ROBERT LEE HOTZ
Jan. 8, 2015 2:00 p.m. ET
15 COMMENTS
Artificial intelligence experts said they have developed a computer card shark that plays poker almost perfectly, having mastered a version of a popular game called Texas Hold ’em.

While playful at heart, their advance in the computational mathematics of game theory may lead to broader innovations in military strategy, national security, medical decision-making, complex contract negotiations and auctions, experts said.

The basic poker game “has been essentially solved,” said Tuomas Sandholm, director of the Electronic Marketplaces Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, whose own poker-playing program won a 2014 world championship. He wasn’t involved in the project. “This is a breakthrough.”

In recent years, high-powered computer programs have outmatched top human players in chess, checkers, Scrabble and the quiz game Jeopardy, but the uncertainties of poker—where so much information about the state of play is hidden—until now had defied the efforts of dozens of research teams.

All told, an estimated 150 million people play poker world-wide, according to to the International Federation of Poker in Switzerland and the U.S.-based Poker Players Alliance, which describe Texas Hold ’em as the most popular version of the card game.

In their work announced Thursday, researchers led by Michael Bowling at Canada’s University of Alberta Computer Poker Research Group in Edmonton tackled a two-player variant of that game called “heads-up limit hold ’em” in which the size of bets and the number of rounds of play during each hand are fixed. It is the simplest version of the game that people usually play. Scientists are still working to solve more complex variations of the poker game.

“Our goal is to advance artificial intelligence, and poker, we believe, is a really good test bed for trying out new algorithms,” said Dr. Bowling. “Poker is an ideal game to capture all kinds of uncertainty.”

Already, computer experts are using such artificial-intelligence techniques to handle the real-world complexities of bidding on large commercial-trucking contracts, to arrange randomized schedules for air marshals guarding commercial airliners, and to ensure equitable distribution of human kidneys donated for transplant surgery, experts said.

MACHINES AT PLAY

Computer researchers have been using games to test theories of artificial intelligence for decades. The newest innovation is a poker-playing program called Cepheus which plays Texas Hold ‘em. You can try your hand against it online. Here is a sample of their earlier successes.

Backgammon. In 1979, a backgammon-playing program defeated world champion Luigi Villa, the first time that a computer program beat a human champion at a board game.
Chess. In 1997, a chess-playing computer developed by IBM called Deep Blue won a 6-game match against world champion Garry Kasparov.
Checkers. In 1994, a checkers-playing computer program called Chinook was declared the Man-Machine World Champion in checkers.
Scrabble. In 2007, a computer program called Quackle beat former Scrabble world champion David Boys.
Go. In 2010, a program called MoGoTW running on a supercomputer defeated a professional Go player.
Jeopardy! In 2011, an IBM computer system called Watson beat two human experts to win the quiz show’s first prize of $1 million.
Dr. Bowling and his colleagues are working now to apply their latest poker-based game theories to the treatment of diabetes.

To learn all the nuances of bluff, bet, hole cards and luck of the draw, the new poker algorithm ran on an array of 4,000 computer processors for 68 days, calculating the optimal outcomes for more than a trillion possibilities of play. The scientists published their research in Science.

The program began with only the rules of play, then worked through more than six billion hands every second, more poker than has been played by the entire human race, the researchers said.

With each hand, the system improved its play, refining its decisions closer and closer to the ideal solution.

At each decision point, the system strove for what is known as the Nash Equilibrium, a winning strategy that benefits competing players in a noncooperative game. It is named for John Nash Jr., a Princeton University mathematician whose work on chance and complex systems won him a share of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Economics.

“In every possible sequence, it will ask itself how much it regrets having just bet,” Dr. Bowling said. “There are mathematical ways of turning that regret into ways of playing in the future.”

University of Alberta Prof. Michael Bowling, showing some of the computations that went into developing the Cepheus computer poker program that he describes as “the perfect program.” ENLARGE
University of Alberta Prof. Michael Bowling, showing some of the computations that went into developing the Cepheus computer poker program that he describes as “the perfect program.” JOHN ULAN/UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA
The end result is a program called Cepheus that not only outplays skilled human players in a fair game, but always plays an essentially perfect game, the researchers said.

“If you played against it, no matter what you do, you still wouldn’t be able to eke out any more than a tiny advantage over millions and millions of hands,” Dr. Bowling said. Among other things, the researchers discovered the dealer almost always has an edge.

The researchers said they don’t plan to commercialize their new system. In fact, they are making the computer source code public and have set up a university website where people can try their hand against the system free.

“People can try their hand against the perfect program,” said Dr. Bowling.

Write to Robert Lee Hotz at sciencejournal@wsj.com

There are 15 comments.
Newest
OldestReader RecommendedTimothy HarrellTimothy Harrell Jan 9, 2015
Er.. this only relates to a very restricted (and essentially pointless) version of Poker known as heads-up fixed limit hold-em, where the other guy can call you every time regardless because you don’t have the ability to bet them out of the pot.

In this restricted form, it’s merely a case of calculating how the odds stack rather than psyching out your opponent, so what’s so amazing that a computer can work out how to play it?

Jerry ColeJerry Cole Jan 9, 2015
Humans? We don’t need any stinkin Humans – signed your friend, the computer 😀

MICHAEL EDMONDSMICHAEL EDMONDS Jan 9, 2015
Dumb! Poker is far more than the odds of the cards. Yes, if you play millions of games, this thing could probably do ok. People don’t play millions of games. Instead, they play a few dozen games and stop when the money runs out. In that environment, odds matter, but bluffing and intuition make more difference.

Anybody who has ever played against a really good player would laugh at this.

Elliott Widaski Jan 9, 2015
What was the ‘rake?’ Wouldn’t it still lose? At $5 a game, a trillion games, that’s a loss of $5 Trillion. Dumb machine. But it thinks it won.

Travis BrunsonTravis Brunson Jan 9, 2015
Agree with most commenters. Not only is this a WAAAY over-simplified version of a game that features infinite random factors when played at high levels, its not even replicating most of the factors involved when playing Hold ’em for “real” at almost any level.
What I want to see programmed in is that since the computer “regrets” (itself an asinine concept for something that has no bills to pay, morals or soul) having made a losing decision, when it “loses” a big hand, the program goes on “tilt” until smoke starts pouring out of the servers. When a computer program “loses” it doesn’t “really” worry about dealing with stress, missing the rent, losing a car payment, having a run of bad luck. Can it really “adjust” for sitting across from a random madman?
“Great” poker (forget perfect, I’d define the goal as “profitable”) is more than just statistics and math.

sam bealsam beal Jan 9, 2015
Isn’t “Texas Hold ’em” no limit, which is not what this AI can “play & win”.

Victor CookVictor Cook Jan 9, 2015
Brute forcing a potential solution to a finite series is NOT something to break open the Champagne for.

Boring.

Madelene TepersonMadelene Teperson Jan 9, 2015
Scientists are still working to solve more complex variations of the poker game…
Not so solved after all…

Ken JackmanKen Jackman Jan 9, 2015
I’ll bet Captain Kirk could beat it ala the cobiashi maru (sp).

Tony GibsonTony Gibson Jan 8, 2015
Keep that computer away from the WOPR at all costs.

Reg NelsonReg Nelson Jan 8, 2015
” . . .a two-player variant of that game called “heads-up limit hold ’em” in which the size of bets and the number of rounds of play during each hand are fixed.”

That’s a subset of a subset of a subset of a subset of the game. Only using endgame (two players) with fixed bets and a fixed number of bets is hardly mastering Hold ’em. Totally misleading article.

JOHN VIGUERIEJOHN VIGUERIE Jan 8, 2015
@Reg Nelson yeah – it mastered the ‘tic-tac-toe’ version of poker… great.

Thomas CooperThomas Cooper Jan 8, 2015
Didn’t G2 Game Design come out with an essentially unbeatable poker machine a couple of years ago?

http://www.cardplayer.com/poker-news/16665-technology-exists-for-unstoppable-heads-up-no-limit-hold-em-machine-says-las-vegas-games-maker

Madelene TepersonMadelene Teperson Jan 9, 2015
@Thomas Cooper You can’t bluff a computer, so a computer playing pure mathematical odds would eventually win all the money. Provided, of course, human players would be dumb enough to keep throwing money in a pot a computer was avidly betting.

Sy CorensonSy Corenson Jan 9, 2015
@Thomas Cooper Pit these two against each other and see what happens. That should settle it.

[/spoiler]
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Infants Outsmart Computers

He should watch his posture, but not worry about being outsmarted just yet

http://www.wsj.com/articles/what-a-child-can-teach-a-smart-computer-1421942333
What a Child Can Teach a Smart Computer
Children are remarkably good at coming up with creative concepts in a way that computers can’t even begin to match
By ALISON GOPNIK

[spoiler title=”Click for whole story” open=”0″ style=”1″]

WHAT A CHILD CAN TEACH A SMART COMPUTER

Every January the intellectual impresario and literary agent John Brockman (who represents me, I should disclose) asks a large group of thinkers a single question on his website, edge.org. This year it is: “What do you think about machines that think?” There are lots of interesting answers, ranging from the skeptical to the apocalyptic.

I’m not sure that asking whether machines can think is the right question, though. As someone once said, it’s like asking whether submarines can swim. But we can ask whether machines can learn, and especially, whether they can learn as well as 3-year-olds.

Everyone knows that Alan Turing helped to invent the very idea of computation. Almost no one remembers that he also thought that the key to intelligence would be to design a machine that was like a child, not an adult. He pointed out, presciently, that the real secret to human intelligence is our ability to learn.

The history of artificial intelligence is fascinating because it has been so hard to predict what would be easy or hard for a computer. At first, we thought that things like playing chess or proving theorems—the bullfights of nerd machismo—would be hardest. But they turn out to be much easier than recognizing a picture of a cat or picking up a cup. And it’s actually easier to simulate a grandmaster’s gambit than to mimic the ordinary learning of every baby.

Recently, machine learning has helped computers to do things that were impossible before, like labeling Internet images accurately. Techniques like “deep learning” work by detecting complicated and subtle statistical patterns in a set of data.

But this success isn’t due to the fact that computers have suddenly developed new powers. The big advance is that, thanks to the Internet, they can apply these statistical techniques to enormous amounts of data—data that were predigested by human brains.

Computers can recognize Internet images only because millions of real people have sorted out the unbelievably complex information received by their retinas and labeled the images they post online—like, say, Instagrams of their cute kitty. The dystopian nightmare of “The Matrix” is now a simple fact: We’re all serving Google ’s computers, under the anesthetizing illusion that we’re just having fun with LOLcats.

The trouble with this sort of purely statistical machine learning is that you can only generalize from it in a limited way, whether you’re a baby or a computer or a scientist. A more powerful way to learn is to formulate hypotheses about what the world is like and to test them against the data. One of the other big advances in machine learning has been to automate this kind of hypothesis-testing. Machines have become able to formulate hypotheses and test them against data extremely well, with consequences for everything from medical diagnoses to meteorology.

The really hard problem is deciding which hypotheses, out of all the infinite possibilities, are worth testing. Preschoolers are remarkably good at creating brand new, out-of-the-box creative concepts and hypotheses in a way that computers can’t even begin to match.

Preschoolers are also remarkably good at creating chaos and mess, as all parents know, and that may actually play a role in their creativity. Turing presciently argued that it might be good if his child computer acted randomly, at least some of the time. The thought processes of three-year-olds often seem random, even crazy. But children have an uncanny ability to zero in on the right sort of weird hypothesis—in fact, they can be substantially better at this than grown-ups. We have almost no idea how this sort of constrained creativity is possible.

There are, indeed, amazing thinking machines out there, and they will unquestionably far surpass our puny minds and eventually take over the world. We call them our children.
[/spoiler]

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Ocean Plastic – World’s Biggest Threat As Art

nsr plastic debris boat – art or alarm bell?

Idiotic exhibition – or excellent indirect way to arouse alarm and action?

https://www.anchoragemuseum.org/exhibits/gyre-the-plastic-ocean/expedition/

Free documentary:

Garbage Island

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Vaccines work – but too many all at once?

I hope you know what you’re doing

An excellent graphic representation at http://graphics.wsj.com/infectious-diseases-and-vaccines/ shows how well vaccines have worked in the USA.

The WSJ included it today in a general piece on the Return of the Vaccine Wars. at http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-return-of-the-vaccine-wars-1424463778?mod=WSJ_article_EditorsPicks_0

Here’s the story with comments, which are interesting:

[spoiler title=”Click to expand for story and comments” open=”0″ style=”1″]The Return of the Vaccine Wars
The controversy over vaccines is as old as vaccination itself
By DAVID OSHINSKY
Feb. 20, 2015 3:22 p.m. ET
53 COMMENTS
The controversy over vaccines is as old as vaccination itself. When Edward Jenner, a brilliant English country doctor, discovered the vaccine for smallpox in 1796, he faced as much criticism as praise. Ministers thundered against tampering with the Lord’s grand design. The economist Thomas Malthus worried that vaccines would lead to dangerous population increases. The very idea of injecting animal matter into the human body struck many as dangerous and repulsive. Cartoons appeared showing cows’ horns sprouting from the heads of recently vaccinated children.

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The Anti-Vaccination Epidemic
The current measles outbreak, with more than 140 cases so far, has created a firestorm that may not disappear when this particular crisis ebbs. Last week, New York University Medical School bioethicist Arthur Caplan compared doctors who oppose vaccination to “Holocaust deniers” and demanded that their medical licenses be revoked. Some pediatricians said they would no longer treat the children of vaccine resisters. In response, Barbara Loe Fisher, founder of the National Vaccine Information Center, an antivaccine group, accused the mainstream media of creating a phony crisis to serve the interests of big government and the “massive Pharma-led lobby.”

The vaccine wars in America have been particularly contentious because they involve our most basic rights (personal liberty, religious freedom) and deepest suspicions (government intrusion, rule by elites). Historians generally trace the antivaccine movement to a number of 19th-century groups, including religious activists, radical libertarians and health faddists, who insisted that Jenner’s vaccine actually caused smallpox. Like some current movement activists, these early leaders had a personal story to tell, claiming that a vaccine had harmed or even killed someone close to them, most often a child. Indeed, their most visible symbol was the smiling but entirely limp Raggedy Ann doll created by a popular cartoonist for his daughter, who had fallen ill and would later die, he believed, from a smallpox shot she received without his permission.

The Impact of Vaccines
ENLARGE
The issue came to a head in 1905 in the vitally important Supreme Court case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts. As America industrialized, state legislatures passed numerous measures to protect the “public good.” There were laws abolishing child labor, requiring safety inspections in factories and restricting the hours a woman could work outside the home. In Massachusetts, the legislature gave towns the authority to require vaccination “when necessary for public health or safety,” such as the smallpox epidemic then sweeping the state.

Cambridge quickly put an ordinance in place requiring its residents to get the smallpox shot or pay a $5 fine. Henning Jacobson, a minister, refused both options, claiming the ordinance violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to liberty. The U.S. Supreme Court strongly disagreed. A “well-ordered society” must be able to enforce “reasonable regulations” in responding to “an epidemic disease which threatens the safety of its members,” wrote Justice John Marshall Harlan. While the Constitution protected against tyranny, it didn’t afford “an absolute right in each person to be, in all times and in all circumstances, wholly free from restraint

Justice Harlan’s opinion would prevail for much of the 20th century. In 1915, New York City health officers used the logic of Jacobson to quarantine an Irish cook whose patrons kept turning up dead from typhoid fever. When Mary Mallon, or Typhoid Mary, refused to change professions, she was exiled to a barren island in Manhattan’s East River, where she spent the remaining 23 years of her life. Seven decades later, New York forcibly isolated tuberculosis victims who refused treatment, using Jacobson.

There were times when this logic went awry. In Buck v. Bell, an egregious 1927 decision, the Supreme Court specifically used Jacobson to uphold Virginia’s policy of forcibly sterilizing the “feebleminded,” ruling that “the principle sustaining compulsory vaccination [could also] cover cutting the fallopian tubes.” In most instances, though, the true meaning of Jacobson prevailed: The state could—and must—exercise its police powers to protect the public’s health.

In 1905, only the smallpox vaccine existed to fight infectious disease. Others appeared in time: a vaccine for polio in the 1950s; vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in the 1960s—the list growing by the year. Guided by Jacobson, all 50 states put laws in place by 1980 requiring the mandatory vaccination of school children for most of these diseases. Exceptions were made for medical and certain nonmedical reasons, such as religious conviction, though few used them at the time.

People complied because vaccines worked. New polio cases disappeared in the U.S., and smallpox was eradicated world-wide. In a typical year before the measles vaccine was licensed in 1962, more than half a million American children would come down with the disease, 48,000 would require hospitalization, and 450 would die. Thirty-five years later, the number of annual measles cases had dipped below 100.

The revival of the antivaccine movement in the 1990s had less to do with fears of personal liberties being deprived than with claims of a link between vaccines and various afflictions, especially autism. It hardly mattered that study after study would refute this junk science. Spurred on by the Internet, talk radio and other outlets, these discredited claims gained credence through repetition. Many parents now had second thoughts. Why vaccinate against diseases that rarely, if ever, occurred? Why take any chance at all? In an odd way, vaccines had done their job too well. They had erased the evidence of why they’re always needed.

In a reversal of Jacobson, politicians began to back away from the notion that community protection trumped individual choice. In the 2008 presidential campaign, both Barack Obama and John McCain remained safely neutral on the bogus health scare surrounding vaccination. State legislatures passed laws allowing vaccine exemptions for philosophical reasons—a loophole so vast that almost anyone living in Oregon or Vermont could opt out for himself or his children.

Vaccination rates dropped, in some areas falling below the level of herd immunity needed to control a contagious disease (generally between 85% to 95%). Studies show that most of the outbreaks occur in states where exemptions are easiest to get and where clusters of unvaccinated children gather.

For now, the consequences of vaccine resistance are on full display. Politicians have walked back the sort of comments about free choice and alleged vaccine dangers that were barely controversial only months before. Bills to toughen school vaccination standards are cropping up across the country.

How long this momentum will last is the key question. Vaccination requires one to take an extremely small risk to ensure a safer future for all members of the community. To refuse it, and to live selfishly off the herd immunity of others, is both dangerous and unfair. Vaccination isn’t meant as coercion but rather as a nod to the public good, and that message is again being heard.

—Prof. Oshinsky is a member of the history department at New York University and director of the Division of Medical Humanities at the NYU School of Medicine. His book “Polio: An American Story” won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for history.

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OldestReader RecommendedThomas GuastavinoThomas Guastavino 7 hours ago
This is a classic example of someones civil rights ending when they start to affect others. Its true that parents do have the right to refuse vaccination if it only affected their children (although a strong case can be made that this is child abuse), but there is the issue of herd immunity which is needed to protect those children who legitimaely cannot be vaccinated. Therefore, these parents should be given a choice. Vaccinate your children or isolate them. Period.

Susan SterrettSusan Sterrett 8 hours ago
I am not sure why there is no mention of the role of global eradication of a virus. The role of smallpox vaccination, which carries significant risk, was to use it wisely to interrupt transmission long enough to get the job of global eradication accomplished. Then vaccinations and the risks associated with them were no longer needed to keep everyone free from smallpox. This is the ideal solution and, when achievable, should be the only solution. Why is this goal for measles not mentioned in this essay? Instead, Oshinsky writes that vaccines have done their job & that “they’re always needed.” No, their job is not finished: global eradication. Or, if not, Oshinsky ought to explain why he doesn’t think so.
That the same goal has existed for measles has been widely discussed. In _Nature_ just last week, there is a special feature about measles and the initiatives for global eradication are discussed. Funding has been an issue. Can we fix that?

Jose CalabroJose Calabro 11 hours ago
The fact that this “debate” is taking place at all is an embarrassing stain on this nation. Deny the imbeciles that refuse these vaccines anesthesia or antibiotics or whatever else it is that medical science employs to better their human condition. Log them, and their objections, whether “philosophical” or “religious”, in some database and instruct them to go rely on “natural” remedies whenever a dental abscess or acute appendicitis condition strikes their precious offspring. Let’s see how well that works out. Perhaps, employing some true Darwinian selection would really help us get rid of these pests and result in a future less ridden with the psychotic brood they are sure to shape in mirror images of themselves less than two decades down the road. Ridiculous. Put these cretins out to pasture.

SARAH FARRARSARAH FARRAR 11 hours ago
@Jose Calabro
The reasoning for some of us cretins is not whether or not to vaccinate, it is the number and the spacing of the shots. Thirty four shots in thirty six months!
Dig up your childhood shot records or google what the schedule was back then.
Of course some vaccines are good and necessary but not so many and not so close together.

Jose Calabro

Jose Calabro 11 hours ago
@SARAH FARRAR @Jose Calabro How about you go and do little bit of reading about the immune system before tackling vaccine frequency “problems” ? Do yourself a favor and do so…

Anthony AaronAnthony Aaron 11 hours ago
How about we deal with this issue on a personal liability/responsibility basis: if you do not vaccinate your child, and they infect others — you will be personally liable for the medical expenses of those other children your child infects. If your child infects another, and that other dies, you will be charged with voluntary manslaughter.

If your child doesn’t get vaccinated, and gets sick and dies, you will be charged with voluntary manslaughter. If your child gets sick and suffers some form of lifelong disability, you will be charged with felony child endangerment.

In any event, if you do not vaccinate your child, you might have to post a sizable bond to pay the aforementioned medical expenses of those infected by your child.

Let the games begin.

Fair enough?

Samuel WeirSamuel Weir 9 hours ago
@Anthony Aaron

Talk about opening up a slippery slope. I think that people should get vaccinated for flu, measles, and other such diseases, but I can see so many problems with the proposals that you’re making.

Susan SterrettSusan Sterrett 8 hours ago
@Anthony Aaron Actually, the ethics of responsibility are not quite that simple. I’m wondering if you’ve considered the effect of waning immunity in highly vaccinated populations, as the wild virus no longer circulates and most mothers’ immunity is vaccine acquired. It works both ways: our decision as a society to implement policies to achieve high vaccination rates has, over several generations, brought about a population that is far more vulnerable to an imported virus than had been expected. So simply blaming the unvaccinated for every illness is not really justified; babies are more vulnerable, and more likely to transmit the virus, bec of that decision. I won’t spell the effects out in detail here, but if you are interested, you can do research using keywords such as “waning immunity” and “passive immunity” in conjunction with “highly vaccinated populations.” To be clear: what I’m against here is misdirected blame. Not helpful.

Steven ChenSteven Chen 14 hours ago
Informative article.

Thanks.

SARAH FARRARSARAH FARRAR 16 hours ago
All I can say, as a grandmother, is that thirty four “shots” within the first thirty six months of an infant’s life—-one starting within the first hour of birth (the HepB)—- is insane.
And we all know why they do it that way : cost.
All of my precious grandchildren have had their responsible, well educated, professional, intelligent parents choose to space their children’s vaccinations out over a period of years.
Not one has had his/her little undeveloped bodies and immune systems blasted with several shots at once. Repeatedly.
We are not Left Coast Left wingers. We are East Coast/Southern conservatives.
Thank God for common sense.

Mary AlexanderMary Alexander 16 hours ago
@SARAH FARRAR Your family has the luxury of transportation. Poor folk often have to take several buses to get to the doctor’s office or Public Health Clinic, exposing their children to illnesses on the way.
They are very grateful to get the shots as scheduled, thereby protecting your little darlings with heightened herd immunities.

Scott JohnsScott Johns 14 hours ago
@SARAH FARRAR How sad that your family puts their children and those children of others at risk of preventable infectious disease. The vaccination schedules are designed based upon evidence based medicine for maximizing current and long term immunity. The immune system is complex and able to handle an extreme quantity of different antigen assaults simultaneously. I can only imagine that thousands of antigens are processed by the typical immune system in a year. 36 more is a drop in the bucket.

SARAH FARRARSARAH FARRAR 14 hours ago
@Scott Johns @SARAH FARRAR
When I compare the recommended shot schedule of today versus that for my own children back in the Seventies, I know something is wrong.
There are now way too many shots in too short a period of time and that simply is not safe.
It is up to parents to protect their children from this.

Patrick HunterPatrick Hunter 10 hours ago
I saw a 9 month old. Mother was known to be hepatitis B positive. Child was vaccinated at birth to attempt to prevent mother to child transmission. The 9 month visit is a very scary visit for these families. The child has been fully vaccinated and it is time to check to see if the babe has been protected, or infected. Blood draw, wait a few days. I make the phone call to tell mom the news.
Mother to child transmission of hepatitis B will more often than not lead to life long infection in the baby. That means liver cirrhosis, liver failure and cancer. A shortened life. Sad but preventable. People are asking for a cure for cancer, and we have a prevention. And people refuse it.
I called the mom with the good news. She told me she knew it would be good news. Her 8 year old had been protected by the vaccine in the same way.
Than she got mad, sad and vented to me, crying. She was in her early 30’s, liver failing and dying from her disease. Knowing she would not live to see her kids grow up. She wanted to know why her mother did not protect her. She was infected at birth by her mother, now holding anger and resentment towards her. Why won’t she live to see her children grow up?
I explained that the vaccine was developed in the late 80’s, and only became widely used in newborns in the 90’s. Her mother did not have the opportunity to protect her. Her mother did nothing wrong.
Through tears she told me she needed to forgive her mom. I agreed. I think she found a bit of peace. I hope she did.
I hope people understand a little more as to why we vaccinate. To try to limit these tragedies. But we don’t appreciate the times we live in. We aren’t grateful. I wish we had perspective.

Donald ArkinDonald Arkin 8 hours ago
@SARAH FARRAR No disrespect, but being a grandmother does not make you an expert on medicine, or any other scientific field. What does your grandmotherly common sense make of the current controversy over supersymmetry and the standard model of particle physics?

Leonard LovalloLeonard Lovallo 18 hours ago
In response, Barbara Loe Fisher, founder of the National Vaccine Information Center, an antivaccine group, accused the mainstream media of creating a phony crisis to serve the interests of big government and the “massive Pharma-led lobby.”
Anbsolutely Barbara invoke the big pharma lobby bogeyman, explains everything -get a grip.

Mary AlexanderMary Alexander 16 hours ago
@Leonard Lovallo: And she can raise more money from nut-cases, and wallow in the publicity.

JOHN MCKAYJOHN MCKAY 18 hours ago
I am so sick of this debate. Fine. Let the non-vaccinated get sick and, possibly, die. If these parents believe so strongly that the vaccinations are harmful, so be it. Stop wasting time trying to convince them. Those of us who believe it’s important will continue to vaccinate our children. They will be safe. Let the rest come to school unvaccinated. If there isn’t enough heard immunity to protect them them then those parents can explain to their adult children, assuming they survive to that point, why it was more important that they got sick than to have them vaccinated. Once the first case of polio occurs, maybe that will change their mind.

Mary AlexanderMary Alexander 18 hours ago
@JOHN MCKAY Unfortunately, the ones who suffer the most are the infants who are too young to have been vaccinated. In this current epidemic, there were several infants who acquired measles from children whose parents were too cool to vaccinate. These infants are very vulnerable to serious complications.

I actually know several parents who think that if they give organic food to their offspring, these children will not get polio. So the children get lots of fresh kale, but no vaccines.

M. Ralph SchmidtM. Ralph Schmidt 17 hours ago
I was just thinking about a person who explained the organic movement to me in a series of verses on diseases that are emerging now that we didn’t have before. She said people were once healthier in the sense that they didn’t used to get certain sicknesses. I tried to point out that life expectancies were once much shorter, also, and that maybe the trade off was worth it. I also pointed to the relatively smaller cost of food or at least the general availability of it everywhere.

Mary AlexanderMary Alexander 16 hours ago
@M. Ralph Schmidt She’ll be the first one to sue her doctor if her precious darling gets a vaccine-preventable disease, by saying that the doctor “didn’t explain vaccines well enough”. This despite giving patients reams of literature about shots and consent/refusal forms to sign.

Donald ArkinDonald Arkin 8 hours ago
@Mary Alexander @JOHN MCKAY Yes, and some of these same earth-mothers think that raw organic honey is good for their little ones, or would be, it turns out, except for the real danger of contracting botulism. God save us from these arrogant imbeciles.

Mary AlexanderMary Alexander 18 hours ago
@CHARLES PLUSHNICK The mercury has been out of all childhood vaccines for at least 15 years, with the exception of multiuse vials of flu vaccines for older children. Inactivated polio vaccine has been used in the US for about 25 years, thus lessening the very small risk from live, oral polio vaccines.

Anti-vax proponents make millions from fictitious books, old information, and paying google to push them to the top of searches, to prey upon “educated people” who took Biology for Poets, and have no logic courses to fall back on. I support liberal arts courses, but honestly, gender studies and drama courses do not prepare people to sift through scientific data.

Hanging out at Trader Joe’s and looking hip does not protect one’s children against pneumococcus, hemophilus influenzae, or measles. Vaccines do.

Paul WeverPaul Wever 18 hours ago
I wonder how many of these vaccine deniers have living relatives who lived through the horrors of the various epidemics (particularly polio) that swept the country before vaccines. If they do, maybe they should talk to them about the consequences of not being innoculated and the fear that came with it.

Anthony AaronAnthony Aaron 11 hours ago
@Paul Wever

Amen — I was in grade school in the mid-50s, and remember classmates with metal braces and crutches — and ones in high school and beyond who still had issues with walking from having had polio.

Robert HennessyRobert Hennessy 20 hours ago
In an absolute sense, yes, but it could very easily be exponentially more complete and honest than it is now.

John W. CondonJohn W. Condon 21 hours ago
Why force anyone to take a vaccine. Just kick them off of ObamaCare.

Richard SullivanRichard Sullivan 21 hours ago
Some folks just don’t cotton to being told what to do. Especially by their government. No idea where they get such foolhardy notions.

Donald ArkinDonald Arkin 8 hours ago
@Richard Sullivan So, what, they now advocate that we should all have our own nuclear reactors in the basement? Funny how these no-cotton fake conservatives will gleefully have the government trounce on anyone whose “freedom” seems dangerous to them. What phonies.

DANTE MARCIANIDANTE MARCIANI 21 hours ago
For historical accuracy, vaccination or variolation as it was called, started over a 1000 years ago in China, spread to Turkey, Middle East and after reached Europe in 1700s. One of the main factors for the anti-vaccine attitudes was a publication in the 1990s in a prestigious medical journal that apparently failed to distinguish science from environmental fiction, in that article mercury from vaccines was the source of all the health problems in the develop countries. The problem is that most regulatory agencies in the US and Europe accepted that fiction and demanded changes in vaccine formulations. Once they did that they opened Pandora’s box, gave legitimacy to a pseudo scientific group and created doubts in the minds of people. A mistake that we are seeing the results now. Of course few of us remember the polio epidemic with dozens of iron lungs with children that could not breath; seeing that was a sobering experience and nobody dared to challenge reality

Robert HennessyRobert Hennessy 21 hours ago
@DANTE MARCIANI
Do you think there’s a difference between polio and chicken pox?

DANTE MARCIANIDANTE MARCIANI 20 hours ago
Polio is a RNA GI virus while chicken pox in a DNA herpes virus. Also polio does not have a membrane or envelope while chicken pox has an envelope. Yet, both seem to like neural cells. Of course polio is a much more serious disease than chicken pox; i.e. with polio there is no room to avoid vaccination.

Robert HennessyRobert Hennessy 19 hours ago
@DANTE MARCIANI
that’s not what I meant. I meant the effects of infection from them

Donald ArkinDonald Arkin 8 hours ago
@Robert Hennessy @DANTE MARCIANI You have obviously never had either one, nor witnessed a case first-hand in an unvaccinated infant. I pray you don’t ever have to. Try to help make sure none of us ever does.

Mario SegalMario Segal 21 hours ago
the problem is that no matter what studies get performed showing no link between vaccines and autism or any other supposed side effect (the real side effects are disclosed, for example with some vaccines a few people will get the disease) – those opposed will never accept them
There is no acceptable burden of proof for them – even though that they are not able to point scientifically to a link (because just my son got autism after a shot is no proof, it is at most a causal association or pure luck). If I die after eating breakfast it does not mean I died because of breakfast, does it?
I think that the broader society has a duty to protect itself, and if some people do not want vaccines we have a right to exclude their kids from schools and other activities. We do not allow exceptions for smoking or drinking because of personal beliefs (the religious wine exception is for small quantities only for ritual purposes), so why should we allow them for vaccines

Robert HennessyRobert Hennessy 21 hours ago
@Mario Segal
Wouldn’t the real or actual level of harm need to be factored in? If the disease in question could cause widespread significant morbidity and mortality, wouldn’t that be different from a disease that only caused a minor illness?

Donald ArkinDonald Arkin 8 hours ago
@Robert Hennessy @Mario Segal So far as I know, every disease for which there is a mandatory vaccine regimen is potentially either lethal or permanently debilitating. We can prove that innocent infants are killed by anti-vax activist policies; no proof exists of substantial harm caused by modern-day vaccines or vaccine schedules.

Robert HennessyRobert Hennessy 21 hours ago
The same thing with the chicken pox vaccine that was rushed forward with little evidence to give anyone a good idea of what it would do long term. Then you have pertussis outbreaks and rising evidence that the immunity from MANY vaccines (including influenza) is NOT what it was cracked up to be. So, it’s the lack of honesty and full disclosure that I oppose, deficits that make a true honest robust debate impossible, and give the accusations of bias and “big pharma” influence a credence they couldn’t have without it.

jim murrayjim murray 20 hours ago
@Robert Hennessy Your logic makes sense except so much of medicine is risk analysis over definitive answers. You nearly never get a definitive answer out of a physician as it is and expecting the same with vaccine manufacturers seems inconsistent.

Robert HennessyRobert Hennessy 21 hours ago
I’m a Physician who does NOT oppose vaccines (all of my kids are fully vaccinated) nor do I think they cause any significant adverse effects. However, what bothers me is the lack of full, honest and accurate (sometimes not known) disclosure as to what the consequences on non vaccination are. This article cites the death rate from measles pre-vaccination, and then the difference in INCIDENCE of measles, pre and post vaccine eras. What he (?conveniently?) left out is the “no significant difference” in the death rates, pre and post vaccine eras.

David LongtinDavid Longtin 21 hours ago
By 1905, smallpox was not the only disease against which vaccines were available:
http://www.immunize.org/timeline/
Vaccines are an absolute blessing to society.

CHARLES PLUSHNICKCHARLES PLUSHNICK 21 hours ago
There are more than one way to skin a cat
It is ok to question the medical authorities
there are vaccines available without mercury preservatives
Vaccines for those allergic to chicken eggs
The salk vaccine vs. sabin
the alternatives may cost more
Not vaccinating may cost more than money

STANLEY LEWISSTANLEY LEWIS 21 hours ago
@CHARLES PLUSHNICK Yes, agreed, but realistically, for example, babies can get more mercury from breast milk, and children/adults from milk, seafood, etc. than they will ever be exposed to from a vaccine. I do think some of this has been over hyped, or at the very least not put into perspective.

Mary AlexanderMary Alexander 18 hours ago
Very overhyped.

James GrundvigJames Grundvig 21 hours ago
Perspective. Measles are bad, definitely unpleasant, but fatal only in a scant few (some .0015%). The CDC has been treating the few 100s of cases as if it were the bubonic plague. Now comes the UCLA superbug outbreak, 179 got it, 2 have died (> 1%), and 7 more critical ill. This outbreak happened 3 weeks ago, but no one in the public was notified until a day or so ago. Yet, the CDC claims they are not responsible for telling the public, but the investigating body in the LA County Dept. of HHS. That’s funny. If the superbug could be passed from one individual to another, then the outbreak not only could have been much worse, but by the time the U.S./LA health officials got around to notifying the public, such a disease could have easily spread across the country and internationally, too. This gives me little comfort or confidence that, in the Mobile-Internet Age, they can’t get the word out faster and more widespread.

Robert SeemanRobert Seeman 21 hours ago
@James Grundvig
and yet your comments are irrelevant to an article about vaccinations.

Robert HennessyRobert Hennessy 21 hours ago
@Robert Seeman @James Grundvig
Comments not irrelevant. (maybe you didn’t understand it?) The point is that without an HONEST balance in Public Health information by the CDC and other health authorities, it’s much more difficult for an average person to inform themselves and reach an intelligent position.

SARAH FARRARSARAH FARRAR 11 hours ago
@James Grundvig
Growing up in the Fifties, my siblings, cousins, friends and I all had :
Measles
Whooping Cough
Chicken Pox
Mumps
We all lived.
That is not to say that I don’t think those vaccines should be administered today —-just not a half dozen at a time into a tiny body.
Giving the Hepatitis B to an hour old infant whose mother does not have hepatitis is cruel.

Donald ArkinDonald Arkin 8 hours ago
@SARAH FARRAR @James Grundvig How many times do people have to be reminded that personal experiences aren’t science? Sheesh! Back in the day, you and your friends probably “just knew it was common sense

Stephen GouldStephen Gould 21 hours ago
To Barbara Loe Fisher: Eat ebola and die please.

Milton PrellMilton Prell 21 hours ago
The author states that individuals should take the ‘extremely small risk’ of something going wrong, but he never provides any data on what those risks are. I support vaccination, but it would be useful to know the rate and number of deaths and adverse reactions attributed to vaccines in the US each year.

Mary AlexanderMary Alexander 18 hours ago
@Milton Prell Here you are:

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/side-effects.htm
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/parents-guide/parents-guide-part4.html
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/vaccine-decision/side-effects.html

[/spoiler]

See also how it flies in Dubai, where all countries meet in children playing
http://www.expatechodubai.com/kids/childhood-vaccinations/

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Vaccines – solid research backs doubts

Bill Gates, Co-Chair the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation shows a vaccine during the press conference. UN Photo / Jean-Marc FerrŽ

See Gary Null for experts who make research based challenge to unlimited vaccines. Radio broadcasts of Feb 2015 feature solid sources.

Apparently there is much material showing a) danger B)irresponsible suffocation of doubt on part of vaccine makers.

Interesting link

Vaccine Liberation Army

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GMO Apples Arrive

GMO apple won’t do this

www.nytimes.com/2015/02/14/business/gmo-apples-are-approved-for-growing-in-us.html

Gene-Altered Apples Get U.S. Approval
By ANDREW POLLACKFEB. 13, 2015
Photo

After eight hours, Arctic Granny apples, right, do not brown like unmodified Granny apples. Credit Okanagan Specialty Fruits
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The government on Friday approved the commercial planting of genetically engineered apples that are resistant to turning brown when sliced or bruised.

The developer, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, says it believes the nonbrowning feature will be popular with both consumers and food service companies because it will make sliced apples more appealing. The feature could also reduce the number of apples discarded because of bruising.

But many executives in the apple industry say they worry that the biotech apples, while safe to eat, will face opposition from some consumers, possibly tainting the wholesome image of the fruit that reputedly “keeps the doctor away.” They are also concerned that it could hurt exports of apples to countries that do not like genetically modified foods.

“In the marketplace we participate in, there doesn’t seem to be room for genetically modified apples now,” said John Rice, co-owner of Rice Fruit Company in Gardners, Pa., which bills itself as the largest apple packer in the East.

The Department of Agriculture, which approved the apples for commercial planting, said on Friday that it had considered these issues. However, it said that under the law, approval is based on whether a genetically modified crop poses a threat to other plants. The department determined that the apples posed no such risk.

The so-called Arctic apples — which will be available in the Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties — are genetically engineered in a way to suppress the production of an enzyme that causes browning when cells in the apple are injured, from slicing, for example.

But over time the apples will still rot and turn brown. In November, the Agriculture Department approved a genetically engineered potato developed by the J.R. Simplot Company that uses a similar technique to prevent browning.

The apple will join relatively few other examples of genetically modified fresh produce, including papaya and some sweet corn. Most of the genetically modified food Americans eat is processed, containing ingredients made from engineered corn or soybeans.

The engineered trait is also one of the few meant to appeal to consumers; most of the traits so far, like insect resistance and herbicide resistance, have been aimed at helping farmers.

Continue reading the main story
RELATED COVERAGE

Mr. Ilagan with Alberto Belmes, one of the growers of genetically modified papayas whose views helped change Mr. Ilagan’s mind.A Lonely Quest for Facts on Genetically Modified CropsJAN. 4, 2014
Gerald Cole, an organic farmer in Taylor, Tex., said supporters of G.M.O. labeling could not compete with the lobbying of big agribusinesses.Texas Tribune: The Push to Label Genetically Modified ProductsMARCH 22, 2014
Products with packaging that states, in different ways, that they do not contain genetically modified ingredients.Many G.M.O.-Free Labels, Little Clarity Over RulesJAN. 30, 2015
The approval is also unusual in that Okanagan, which is based in Summerland, British Columbia, is a small company. Most genetically modified crops are developed by giant seed and chemical companies like Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer.

Photo

Neal Carter, president of Okanagan Specialty Fruits. Credit Okanagan Specialty Fruits
Neal Carter, the president of Okanagan, said the apple had “a lot of silent supporters” and would be popular with the food service business. “I can’t believe how many requests we’ve had just this morning to our website from people who want to buy trees,” he said. The roughly 45 investors in the privately held company include many people in the apple business, he said.

It will take a few years for Arctic apples to be widely available because trees have to first be planted and then become mature enough to bear fruit.

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
Mr. Carter said that four growers would plant a total of 20,000 trees this spring, covering a mere 20 acres or so. From 5,000 to 10,000 pounds of apples are expected to be ready by the fall of 2016, enough to provide samples to food service companies and other potential buyers. The product could reach stores, in very small quantities, in 2017, he said.

Documents released by the Agriculture Department on Friday suggest the decision to approve was essentially made last May. Mr. Carter said he thought political factors had kept the approval from being announced. He said the company, which had initially requested approval in 2010, finally became so frustrated that it wrote a pointed letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack last month.

A spokesman for the Agriculture Department said it took time to analyze the issues and all the comments received. There were two public comment periods that together drew more than 175,000 comments, the overwhelming majority opposed to approval.

Consumer and environmental groups, who say that genetically modified crops in general are not thoroughly tested for safety, were highly critical of the decision on Friday.

“This G.M.O. apple is simply unnecessary,” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement, using the initials for “genetically modified organism.” “Apple browning is a small cosmetic issue that consumers and the industry have dealt with successfully for generations.”

(Putting lemon juice or another source of vitamin C on apple slices can retard browning, though Okanagan argues that affects the taste.)

The environmental groups have been pressing food companies to reject the Arctic apples. McDonald’s and Gerber have sent letters saying they had no plans to use the apples. The groups also renewed their call for genetically modified foods to be labeled as such.

Mr. Carter said apples would be labeled as Arctic, with links to the company’s website, so consumers could figure out that the fruit was engineered. He said it would discuss with the Food and Drug Administration whether the apples would also be labeled as nonbrowning. But he said that labeling the fruit as genetically modified would only be “demonizing” it.

The nonbrowning effect is not created by putting genes from another species into the apple’s DNA, which is the case with most genetically altered crops. Instead, the apple’s own genes are manipulated in a way that turns off the browning mechanism.

Okanagan is still engaged in a voluntary consultation with the F.D.A. over the safety of the apple. Consumer groups say shutting off the browning mechanism could have unintended effects. But the Agriculture Department said the Arctic apples seemed to be nutritionally equivalent to other apples.

While many in the apple industry had opposed the approval, some now say they will work to ensure that consumers know most apples are not modified and even the ones that are modified are safe.

“That clear identification of the Arctic brand will help consumers make clear, informed choices if Okanagan apples do become available in stores in a few years,” Wendy Brannen, director of consumer health and public relations for the U.S. Apple Association, said in an email.

A version of this article appears in print on February 14, 2015, on page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: Gene-Altered Apples Get U.S. Approval.

Earlier
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/14/business/gmo-apples-are-approved-for-growing-in-us.html

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Henry Heimlich – Hero or Charlatan?

Heimlich Wacky or Misunderstood in Later Years with Malariotherapy?

Son Peter Says Heimlich is a Fraud Who May not Have Invented Famous Choking Rescue

Are Back Slaps the Answer After all? Red Cross Thinks So

Henry Heimlich – Savior, Fraud, Charlatan, Smeared Hero?

NPR’s Radiolab draws attention this morning (November 2 2013) to the Heimlich saga. The hero who invented the way to expel lumps of food lodged in the windpipe by embracing the suffocating victim from behind and jerking one’s fists into his or her diaphragm became a household word with the success of his advice worldwide, where it has saved countless victims from dying in restaurants, including Goldie Hawn and other celebrities.

Unfortunately Heimlich apparently went somewhat wacky in his later years, among other ideas suggesting extending the Heimlich maneuver to drowning victims, asthma sufferers, cystic fibrosis, and using malaria to expel the so-called AIDS virus from the system. Critics answered that this would only induce the waterlogged to swallow their own vomit, without clearing their lungs (which reportedly do not contain much water), and the procedure would be similarly useless in clearing the lungs of asthma and cystic fibrosis mucus.

The eminent authorities in the field of AIDS such as Dr Anthony Fauci of NIAID dismissed the malaria therapy as “atrocious”. Such was the disapproval from the medical establishment and their allies of his latter day initiatives that the American Red Cross made banging choking victims on the back five times a priority before attempting the Heimlich maneuver, which they relabeled “abdominal thrusting”.

Even Peter, one of Heimlich’s sons turned against him, though the other, Phil, supported him, saying that the old belief that thumping on the back would only lodge morsels deeper in the bronchial tract was true and supported by studies. But the result is that Heimlich while still a household name has lost its luster.

How much truth there is in all this is interesting to examine. Wiki of course mirrors the established attack line, but one wonders what the reality is. Worth investigating. For a start, it appears that Heimlich himself, refuting the American Red Cross move to prioritize back slaps, told them himself to remove his name from their instructions on abdominal thrusting.

Heimlich in Wiki
Medline Heimlich
Heimlich on Why Malariotherapy Makes Sense by Boosting Immunity with Weak Malaria
ABC and Fauci on Why Malariotherapy Might Kill You
Save-A-Life Abandons Heimlich
Heimlich Fights The Red Cross Retreat to Back Thumping

CINCINNATI — Since inventing the Heimlich maneuver in 1974 with a team of Jewish Hospital researchers, Dr. Henry Heimlich claims the procedure and its abdominal thrusts — into the stomach above the navel and up against the diaphragm to force air from the lungs and remove obstructions — have saved the lives of 100,000 potential choking victims. And yet the American Red Cross’ first-aid procedure recommends five back slaps and then five abdominal thrusts for someone who’s choking.

Those recommendations “horrify” Heimlich. “There has never been any research saying the back slap saves lives,” he said. “We know the Heimlich maneuver works. So it comes down to a matter of life or death.”

Choking is deadly. The National Safety Council lists choking as America’s No. 4 cause of accidental death behind poisoning (35,600 deaths annually), vehicles (35,500) and falls (28,000). In 2010, the most recent year for which statistics have been compiled, choking claimed 4,700 lives, a 4 percent increase over 2009.

Heimlich believes some of those lives could have been saved by his maneuver versus slapping someone on the back.

“I don’t want to fight the Red Cross,” he insisted. “But I don’t want people dying needlessly.”

Heimlich has asked the Red Cross to produce research showing the effectiveness of back slaps over his maneuver. If the nation’s traditionally final word in first aid can’t put up, he wants it to shut up. Stop telling people to slap choking victims on the back, he says. Tell them to use the Heimlich maneuver.

“There is no evidence whatsoever that hitting someone on the back helps a choking person,” Heimlich said. “Many scientific studies” have proven “if a person is choking and the food is in the airway, if you hit them on the back, it causes the food to go deeper and tighter into the airway.”

Heimlich has tussled with the Red Cross before. The Washington, D.C.-based first-aid and disaster relief organization has gone back and forth over the years on endorsing the Heimlich maneuver.

This waffling has vexed the Ohio thoracic surgeon, prompting him to ask the Red Cross to remove his name from any of its literature and training procedures on choking.

“When they started calling for back slaps first and then the Heimlich maneuver,” he recalled, “I wouldn’t let them use the Heimlich name. Why? Because patients were going to die.”

Heimlich has also been at odds with the Red Cross over his claims that the maneuver could help drowning victims and someone suffering an asthma attack. Researchers have seriously questioned both of those claims.

Now, at the age of 92, writing his memoirs, the doctor plans to appeal to the Red Cross one last time.

Turns out, Heimlich’s timing is impeccable. The Red Cross is conducting its semiannual evaluation of the scientific research behind its guidelines for providing first aid to choking victims. The report is due Saturday.

It also turns out, however, that the research Heimlich seeks doesn’t exist.

“To the best of my knowledge, after doing a pretty thorough literature search, no controlled studies exist comparing back blows to abdominal thrusts or anything else,” said Dr. Richard M. Bradley, a member of the Red Cross’ Preparedness, Health and Safety Services advisory council and an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

An independent source concurs. “The literature says there is no one definitive treatment to relieve an obstructed airway on a conscious person,” said William Terry Ray, director of the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing’s Nurse Anesthesia program. He looked at 40 years of research. The reviews concluded “a person may have to use the back blows as well as abdominal thrusts to relieve the obstruction, depending on what caused the person to choke.”

No definitive study exists to support Heimlich’s theory that slapping someone on the back can push an obstruction further down the throat. “The literature on this is not conclusive either,” Ray noted. Studies cited in a review of research projects “used animals, cadavers and anecdotal evidence.” But not living human subjects.

Matt Huesman, who used the Heimlich maneuver in August on a choking victim at his restaurant, planned to continue using the Heimlich maneuver over slapping someone on the back. He questioned science’s lack of progress.

“The Heimlich maneuver has been around for a long time,” he said. “Maybe it’s time somebody got on it and did that definitive study.”

Bradley agrees. But he knows that’s not where the grant money is. Choking happens outside of laboratory and research hospital settings, he noted. “Not enough dollars go to out-of-hospital research.”

Nevertheless, choking remains a killer.

“Anytime something is in the top five,” Bradley admitted, “it is a priority for research.”

Peter Calls Father Spectacular Liar and Fraud:

Peter Heimlich the diaffected son

Peter Heimlich the diaffected son

In Spring 2002, my wife Karen and I began researching the career of my father, Dr. Henry J. Heimlich of Cincinnati, famous for the “Heimlich maneuver” choking rescue method. To our astonishment, we inadvertently uncovered a wide-ranging, unseen 50-year history of fraud.

Our research revealed my father to be a spectacular con man and serial liar, arguably one of history’s most successful – and destructive – medical humbugs. Armed with considerable charm, an instinct for public relations, and fueled by a ravenous need for attention and adulation, my father used the media to pass himself off as a medical genius/inventor and humanitarian, eventually being crowned “America’s most famous doctor” (The New Republic).

Contrary to his public image, my father was an incompetent surgeon – fired for misconduct from his last medical job in 1977 – who appropriated ideas from other doctors and attached his name to them. Facts indicate that he probably didn’t even invent what came to be known as “the Heimlich maneuver.” In my opinion, the only thing my father ever invented was his own mythology….

For example, the use of the Heimlich maneuver to resuscitate drowning victims has been warned against as useless and potentially lethal by the National Academy of Sciences, the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and other organizations. Nevertheless, for decades the Heimlich Institute put the public at risk by promoting this and my father’s other dangerous medical recommendations.

As we came to understand, my father simply dreamed up these claims, then promoted them in journals and the popular media using evidence that ranged from shabby to fraudulent. For example, we researched a string of case reports in which he claimed drowning victims had been miraculously revived by the Heimlich maneuver. They’re all phony. The results? Dozens of serious injuries and deaths, including children.

Heimlich Institute Video Celebrating Heimlich’s Life and Achievement

Peter Heimlich’s Blog Undermines Forthcoming Father’s Autobiography and Radiolab Report

PDF of Peter Heimlich’s Letter Detailing Radiolab Misreporting

The above two links are examples of what appears to be some of the finest investigative work in medicine and science, pursued to its full extent by Peter Heimlich in challenging ill founded initiatives and claims. His performance seems equal to that of the celebrated Serge Lang of Yale, and is probably counted as equally extreme and needlessly discomfiting by his targets, who would probably claim that compromising with perfection is an inevitable part of reporting and story telling, as it is in any other human activity.

Interestingly it appears that the autobiography if his father is in the works and will appear next February if all goes as planned, and as far as Peter Heimlich is concerned is a whitewash that omits many of the embarrassments that he has pointed out.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
After years of delay (and a canceled contract), Prometheus Books is publishing my father’s autobiography — here’s a preview
Via Heimlich’s Latest Maneuvers by Cleveland writer Mary Mihaly in Health Monitor, December 2009/January 2010:

Dr. “Hank” Heimlich may be the most famous doctor in the world…Inevitably, talk turns to his “latest maneuver”- his upcoming autobiography, Heimlich’s Maneuvers, to be published shortly by Bartleby Press.

The book never appeared, so presumably Bartleby preferred not to publish.

Four years and another publisher later, the wait may be over.

Heimlichs Maneuvers the book may be coming out from Prometheus next February, making this all very relevant to dinner party conversation again

According to Amazon, my father’s 230-page autobiography is scheduled to be released by Prometheus Books, based in Amherst, New York, on February 11, a week after his 94th birthday.

Last week at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (source)

Here’s the Table of Contents which I received from Lisa Michalski, Senior Publicist at Prometheus:

Foreword by Guy Carpico
Author’s Note
Acknowledgments
CHAPTER 1: Heeeeere’s Heimlich!
CHAPTER 2: My Beginnings
CHAPTER 3: The Depression, Anti-Semitism, and Visits to Sing Sing Prison
CHAPTER 4: Medical School Challenges and a Strange Internship
CHAPTER 5: En Route to China
CHAPTER 6: A Health Clinic in the Gobi Desert
CHAPTER 7: A Medical Newbie Searches for a Surgical Residency
CHAPTER 8: Saving a Life and Finding Love
CHAPTER 9: Restoring the Ability to Swallow: The Reversed Gastric Tube Operation
CHAPTER 10: Taking the Reversed Gastric Tube Operation behind the Iron Curtain
CHAPTER 11: A Promise to a Dead Soldier Kept: The Heimlich Chest Drain Valve
CHAPTER 12: A Boy Named Hayani
CHAPTER 13: Saving the Lives of Choking Victims: The Heimlich Maneuver
CHAPTER 14: The American Red Cross and Back Blows
CHAPTER 15: The Gift of Breath: The Heimlich MicroTrach
CHAPTER 16: Making the Most of Good Ideas
CHAPTER 17: Working toward a Caring World
Notes
Index

Hey, where’s “malariotherapy,” the notorious human experiments conducted for decades by Cincinnati’s Heimlich Institute in which U.S. and foreign nationals suffering from cancer, Lyme Disease, and AIDS were infected with malaria, resulting in investigations by three federal agencies and UCLA?

And I don’t see a chapter heading about my father’s decades of relentless campaigning to promote the use of the Heimlich maneuver to revive near-drowning victims, a depraved crusade based on dubious case reports that resulted in who knows how many dead kids.

How about when he was dismissed as Director of Surgery at Cincinnati’s Jewish Hospital in May 1977? Does he tell about the outrageous episode that precipitated his firing? That would probably increase sales.

What about his close relationships with doctors who lost their licenses for massive overprescribing of narcotics? One was Marilyn Monroe’s Dr. Feelgood and two did jail stretches. Wouldn’t that make a lively chapter?

And Chapter 8’s “Finding Love,” does that refer to his marriage or to his reckless sexual promiscuity, some of which my mother, the late Jane Heimlich, shared in her memoir?

And what about the late Edward A. Patrick MD PhD, my father’s 30-year colleague and co-author?

During his singular career, Dr. Patrick obtained a string of state medical licenses using squiffy credentials provided by my father, was involved in every aspect of the Heimlich maneuver, and, per his full-page obituary in the March 13, 2010 British Medical Journal, claimed to be the uncredited co-developer of the treatment — which he called “the Patrick-Heimlich maneuver.”

source
I asked Ms. Michalski, who replied:

There is no mention of Edward A. Patrick.

Wha?

How about my father’s widely-published claim that in 2001 he rescued a choking victim at a Cincinnati restaurant by performing “the Heimlich maneuver”? That’s a headline-maker sure to sell plenty of copies.

Via Ms. Michalski:

We have not found any mention of a 2001 incident of Dr. Heimlich saving someone with the Heimlich maneuver in a Cincinnati restaurant.

Ruh-roh.

Then there’s this March 16, 2003 front-page Cincinnati Enquirer article:

For more than 40 years, Cincinnati icon Dr. Henry Heimlich has been taking credit for a world-famous operation that was actually developed first by a Romanian surgeon behind the Iron Curtain.

In interviews, biographies and promotional materials, Heimlich has told anyone who would listen that he performed the world’s first total organ replacement. But even before Heimlich wrote his first article about the “Heimlich Operation” on dogs in 1955, the procedure had been performed dozens of times on humans by Romanian surgeon Dr. Dan Gavriliu, an Enquirer investigation has found.

Gavriliu now calls Heimlich a “liar and a thief.” He says Heimlich not only took credit for the operation, but also lied when he said they co-authored a paper for an international surgery conference.

…”Let Heimlich be a pig if he wants to steal an operation and put his name on it,” says retired New York surgeon Eugene Albu. “He changed the name from the Gavriliu Operation to the Gavriliu-Heimlich Operation. Then it became the Heimlich Operation later on.”

Six years later, from the 2009 article about the (aborted) Bartleby book:

Among other highlights, the book recounts how, in 1953, Dr. Heimlich launched his career by creating a surgical procedure for replacing the esophagus….

So which version is Prometheus running with?

Ms. Michalski:

Dr. Heimlich does credit Dr. Dan Gavriliu, in fact, it’s the basis of chapter 10, “Taking the Reversed Gastric Tube Operation behind the Iron Curtain.” According to the manuscript, Dr. Gavriliu had been performing the operation since 1951 (Heimlich first performed it in 1955).

Finally, here’s her reply when I asked for the name of the Prometheus editor responsible for the content and accuracy of the book:

Our authors are, first and foremost, responsible for the content of their books. During the production process, if the editors working on the book have questions about accuracy, clarity, sources, or the like, these are sent to the author for review and response.

Psst, a word to the wise for those editors….

Re: “questions about accuracy, clarity, sources, or the like,” I have a pretty good idea what’s in these chapters:

CHAPTER 6: A Health Clinic in the Gobi Desert
CHAPTER 11: A Promise to a Dead Soldier Kept: The Heimlich Chest Drain Valve

I’d strongly recommend you ask my father to provide you with a release to obtain his service records from the United States Navy.

And I’ll bet you a Heimlich valve that he won’t.

As in all things human this discussion is a mixture of logic and emotion, with the latter not in short supply on a deeper level.

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NFL and Concussion – Frontline Exposes Denial of Science

NFL’s Endless Defense Against Lethal Threat to American Football

Denial and Counter Attack Began with Spurious Journal Studies

After Paying Off Players with Pittance, NFL Contradicts Its Admission

Even small hits can add up to suicide

Frontline tonight (Oct 8 Tues 2013) is a nice two hour study of the best case of science denial in American commerce since the tobacco hearings of the fifties – the NFL.

From the beginning the $8 billion revenue NFL maintained a steadfast denial of the autopsy evidence implicating football concussion in brain damage and resulting disorientation, depression and suicide among former players.

They called the doctor, an honest and intelligent black researcher named Omalu, who detected the physical signs of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in the brains of dead NFL athletes, a charlatan who was practicing “voodoo” science in the article he published in Neurosurgery, after they had published bad science earlier in the very same journal denying the connection.

Even when the NFL decided to cooperate in research into concussion (if you cant beat them, join them) they scorned Amalu and turned to other pioneers at Boston University who had nailed down more evidence (including that small collisions that do not leave any overt symptoms can cause damage even in children and cause suicide in a player in his early twenties) that American football is fatal to the brain, apparently irredeemably.

Instead the NFL turned to the NIH and then to Boston University
with a million dollar grant and acted as if they were on the job pursuing research to find out the real truth.

But in fact after the players won a $765 million settlement a month or two ago (much less than the $2 billion they could have got in a trial which would have revealed the details of exactly how the NFL has interfered with finding out the truth) the NFL has retreated from acknowledging a link to not admitting that NFL players suffer from the after effects of football concussion until further studies are done, preferably as long in the future as possible.

One quote encapsulates why the rearguard action the NFL is fighting so hard is inevitable: “If just 10% of American mothers realize how lethal concussion is, American football is over”.

In Damage Control Mode, NFL Shied From Its Own Brain Research

In 2009, a leaked NFL research study seemed to mark a game-changer in the debate around football’s concussion crisis. Former players, the research found, suffered from memory-related diseases at a rate that was 19 times higher than the general population.

The study went to the heart of the question of prevalence — how many former players were suffering? And the fact that it was commissioned by the NFL only added to its significance.

“It was the people who the league hired to find out the answers to these questions, giving them the answers,” Alan Schwarz of The New York Times told FRONTLINE. Schwarz was given a copy of the study at a Manhattan steak house. “It was very deep throat,” he said. “You knew that this was going to be big.”

There was one problem: The league was backing away from the findings. In a message to Schwarz, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the study had shortcomings, noting that “there are thousands of retired players who do not have memory problems.”

The story sparked national attention. Within weeks, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was testifying on Capitol Hill. With the league’s concussion stance under intense public scrutiny, lawmakers were comparing the NFL to Big Tobacco.

Suddenly, the league was in damage control. It shook up its concussion committee, introduced new rules geared at player safety and donated $1 million to Boston University for brain research. As you’ll see in the following scene from League of Denial: Inside the NFL’s Concussion Crisis, the effort ended with a surprise acknowledgment from what Schwarz described as an “annoyed” Greg Aiello:

In the film, which premieres tonight beginning at 9 pm EST, FRONTLINE investigates the hidden story of the NFL’s response to head injuries. Through interviews with former players, scientists and other experts on the concussion issue, it examines what the NFL knew about the risks of such injuries, and when it knew it.

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New Yorker Asks If Lance Armstrong Was Unfairly Condemned

Malcolm Gladwell Sorts Out Athlete Drug Blame Game with Two Books

The Sports Gene vs The Secret Race: Which Side are You On?

Genes Confer Unfair Advantage, Doping Restores Fair Competition?

Eero Mantyranta Had Rich Blood, Won Olympic Cross Country

Nice piece in the Sep 9 2013 issue of the New Yorker has Malcolm Gladwell reviewing a book called The Sports Gene (Penguin) by one David Epstein which makes it very clear that genetic variations generate very different athletic results. One man he quotes had 65% more red blood cells than normal adult males. This unusually red faced Finn called Eero Mantyranta proceeded to win a double handful of gold and silver medals in cross country skiing in the early sixties with a lead in the 15 kilometer race of forty seconds which has never been equalled before or since.

Malcolm Gladwell writes appreciatively of The Sports Gene even though it contradicts his 10,000 hour practice for perfection theory -except that Gladwell was referring to mental skills like piano playing, not physical athletics

Gladwell pairs the book with “The Secret Race” by Tyler Hamilton who confessed to breaking the drug doping rules in cycling when he was part of Lance Armstrong’s US Postal Service team, and who implicated Armstrong in testimony which eventually led to Armstrong’s downfall and the loss of his medals. His tale of how hard they had to work to hide their boosting methods is impressive as testimony to the effect that such assistance is not for the lazy, bot for the very determined and dedicated.

The Sports Gene – sorry, this guy has better genes than you do

Comparing the two books ie the two sources of great differences in performance – Gladwell reasonably asks whether this is fair. Should random, freak variations in physical makeup be allowed to make the difference in athletic events while athletes are called frauds if they boost their performance with sometimes grueling regimes of drugs which demand painful adjustments and training changes which are a lot more disciplined than normal, ie depended on “how hard you worked, how attentive and professional you were in your preparations,” as Hamilton writes.

Of course this slugger can hit the ball – he has better eyes

However the issue is decided in the end – possibly in a way that makes Lance Armstrong less of a villain and ore of an athlete ahead of his time – both books sound fascinating. Apparently world record high jumper Donald Thomas had unusually long legs and a ten and a quarter inch Achilles tendon which catapulted him into the air like a kangaroo (kangaroos also have long tendons).

It helps if you have stick thin thighs (montage of Jessica Ennis, Usain Bolt, Chrissie Wellington, Mo Farah and Christine Ohuruogu)

Long distance runners in Kenya benefit from skinny calves and ankles which weigh less (runners also shave their shoes for the same benefit) by nearly a pound compared with Danes, which translates to eight per cent less energy required per kilometer, says Gladwell. The best runners from Ethiopia and Kenya come from the Rift Valley, which is ideal for producing extra red blood cells (too high is not better, because the air is too thin for proper workouts).

10,000 hours of practice may not cut it in athletics – David Epstein’s book is carefully sourced from the original scientific studies in journals.

Similarly elite baseball players have remarkable eyesight of 20/10 or even below 20/9, approaching the limit of the human eye according to theory. (That means they can see as clearly at 20ft as we average mortals can at ten feet or less). The average for major and minor league players is 20/13 according to ophthamologist Louis Rosenbaum who tested 400 players.

Would you agree that pitchers be allowed to have laser eye surgery or lenses implanted to improve their normal eyesight? Major League Baseball allows it, and allows pitchers to replace the ulnar collateral ligament in their elbows with a tendon taken from a corpse or elsewhere in their body. The operation allowed pitcher Tommy John who had it done in 1974 to win far more games than before and to retire at the unusually advanced age of 46.

Tyler Hamilton says blood boosting and doping with EPO took more effort and discipline than keeping to the rules

Tyler Hamilton says that his and Lance Armstrong’s blood swapping and boosting and use of the naturally occurring hormone EPO (erythropoietin aka “red eggs”) didn’t feel like cheating to them at the time and they both would surely have passed any lie detector test. And the book explains what an extraordinary complicated process tuning up a modern cycling performance is, with “more variables than I had ever imagined”.

Here’s an excellent interview with Epstein on NPR (text):

NPR talks to Epstein

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Why Heat Brings a Halt – Sun Makes Us Lazy, Stupid

You Have a Perfect Excuse

New Yorker explains the science

This is what we want to nbe doing – forget work!

JULY 22, 2013
WHY SUMMER MAKES US LAZY
POSTED BY MARIA KONNIKOVA

A few quotes:

A 2008 study using data from the American Time Use Survey found that, on rainy days, men spent, on average, thirty more minutes at work than they did on comparatively sunny days. In 2012, a group of researchers from Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducted a field study of Japanese bank workers and found a similar pattern: bad weather made workers more productive, as measured by the time it took them to complete assigned tasks in a loan-application process………

Instead of focussing on their work, they focussed on what they’d rather be doing—whether or not it was actually sunny or rainy outside (though the effect was stronger on sunny days). The mere thought of pleasant alternatives made people concentrate less……….

. In 1994, Gerald Clore, a pioneer in researching how ambient mood-altering phenomena affect cognition and judgment, found that pleasant weather can often lead to a disconcerting lapse in thoughtfulness. Clore’s team approached a hundred and twenty-two undergraduates on days with either good or bad weather and asked them to participate in a survey on higher education. The better the weather, the easier it was to get the students to buy into a less-than-solid argument: on days that were sunny, clear, and warm, people were equally persuaded by both strong and weak arguments in favor of end-of-year comprehensive exams. When the weather was rainy, cloudy, and cold, their critical faculties improved: in that condition, only the strong argument was persuasive. …

In a 2013 study of perceived well-being, the economist Marie Connolly found that on days when the temperature rose above ninety degrees, the negative impact on happiness levels was greater than the consequences of being widowed or divorced……

Maybe best of all, blistering heat does give us a perfectly good reason to eat ice cream: studies have shown again and again that blood glucose levels are tied to cognitive performance and willpower. A bite of something frozen and sweet, boosting depleted glucose stores, might be just what a brain needs as the temperature spikes.

[spoiler title=”Click here for reference text” open=”0″ style=”1″]In his meticulous diaries, written from 1846 to 1882, the Harvard librarian John Langdon Sibley complains often about the withering summer heat: “The heat wilts & enervates me & makes me sick,” he wrote in 1852. Sibley lived before the age of air-conditioning, but recent research suggests that his observation is still accurate: summer really does tend to be a time of reduced productivity. Our brains do, figuratively, wilt.

One of the key issues is motivation: when the weather is unpleasant, no one wants to go outside, but when the sun is shining, the air is warm, and the sky is blue, leisure calls. A 2008 study using data from the American Time Use Survey found that, on rainy days, men spent, on average, thirty more minutes at work than they did on comparatively sunny days. In 2012, a group of researchers from Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducted a field study of Japanese bank workers and found a similar pattern: bad weather made workers more productive, as measured by the time it took them to complete assigned tasks in a loan-application process.

When the weather improved, in contrast, productivity fell. To determine why this was the case, the researchers assigned Harvard students data entry on either sunny or rainy days. The students were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: before starting to work, they were either shown six photographs of outdoor activities in nice weather, such as sailing or eating outdoors, or were asked to describe their daily routines. The researchers found that participants were less productive when they’d viewed pleasant outdoor photographs. Instead of focussing on their work, they focussed on what they’d rather be doing—whether or not it was actually sunny or rainy outside (though the effect was stronger on sunny days). The mere thought of pleasant alternatives made people concentrate less.

But each season has its share of attractive days—and a skier’s mind would likely have many opportunities to wander in the dead of winter. There’s evidence, however, that in summer, our thinking itself may simply become lazier. In 1994, Gerald Clore, a pioneer in researching how ambient mood-altering phenomena affect cognition and judgment, found that pleasant weather can often lead to a disconcerting lapse in thoughtfulness. Clore’s team approached a hundred and twenty-two undergraduates on days with either good or bad weather and asked them to participate in a survey on higher education. The better the weather, the easier it was to get the students to buy into a less-than-solid argument: on days that were sunny, clear, and warm, people were equally persuaded by both strong and weak arguments in favor of end-of-year comprehensive exams. When the weather was rainy, cloudy, and cold, their critical faculties improved: in that condition, only the strong argument was persuasive. Clore and his colleagues concluded that pleasant weather led people to embrace more heuristic-based thinking—that is, they relied heavily on mental shortcuts at the expense of actual analysis.

Summer weather—especially the muggy kind—may also reduce both our attention and our energy levels. In one study, high humidity lowered concentration and increased sleepiness among participants. The weather also hurt their ability to think critically: the hotter it got, the less likely they were to question what they were told.

The shift toward mindlessness may be rooted in our emotions. One common finding is a link between relative sunshine and happiness: although people who live in sunnier places, like Southern California, are no happier than those who live in the harsher conditions of the Midwest, day-to-day variations in sunshine make a difference. People get happier as days get longer and warmer in the approach to the summer solstice, and less happy as days get colder and shorter. They also report higher life satisfaction on relatively pleasant days. The happiest season, then, is summer.

A good mood, generally speaking, has in turn been linked to the same type of heuristic, relatively mindless thinking that Clore observed in his pleasant-weather participants. On the flip side, a bad mood tends to stimulate more rigorous analytical thought. Weather-related mood effects can thus play out in our real-life decisions—even weighty ones. In one recent project, the psychologist Uri Simonsohn found that students were more likely to enroll in a university that was famous for its academic rigor if they visited on days that were cloudy. When the weather turned sour, he concluded, the value they placed on academics increased.

There’s a limit, however, to heat’s ability to boost our mood: when temperatures reach the kind of summer highs that mark heat waves all over the world, the effect rapidly deteriorates. In a 2013 study of perceived well-being, the economist Marie Connolly found that on days when the temperature rose above ninety degrees, the negative impact on happiness levels was greater than the consequences of being widowed or divorced.

Conversely, the effects of heat on our brains aren’t entirely negative. Many of the behaviors that psychologists study follow a so-called inverted-U pattern: as one factor steadily increases, a related behavior improves, plateaus, and then starts to deteriorate. A famous example of this is the Yerkes-Dodson curve, which charts the effect of stress on how well someone performs a given task. If we experience too little stress, or too much, our performance suffers. Like Goldilocks, we want to get it just right. Similarly, our cognitive abilities seem to improve up to a certain temperature, and then, as the temperature continues to rise, quickly diminish. An early study suggested that the optimal temperature hovered around seventy-two degrees Fahrenheit. A more recent review of the literature shows a target of twenty-seven degrees Celsius, or roughly eighty-one degrees Fahrenheit. (An important caveat, however, is that neither of these studies take humidity or sunshine into account, two major factors when it comes to assessing the influence of summer weather on behavior.)

Maybe best of all, blistering heat does give us a perfectly good reason to eat ice cream: studies have shown again and again that blood glucose levels are tied to cognitive performance and willpower. A bite of something frozen and sweet, boosting depleted glucose stores, might be just what a brain needs as the temperature spikes.

Illustration by Edwin Fotheringham.

[/spoiler]

((Contrast with this, exhibit A for how we need science.
How those who lack acience try to overcome it: http://www.bodylovewellness.com/))

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Book Expo 2013 Richer, More Distracting Than Web

Pot Pourri of Fetching Science Titles at University Presses

Fine Production Values Unmatched by Virtual Books

But Are Publishers Scraping the Barrel for Science Titles?

C-SPAN Book TV is an annual and impressive presence outside the ropes at every BEA to greet visitors

The 2013 Book Expo America at Javits presented the usual cacophony, as vibrant as ever, of booths offering every kind of author and book to trade, media and fans.

In a sign of the times, however, major booths such as Harper and Random House, showed no actual physical books at all, since all their production was no available to the trade on line. Was this a foretaste of urban life to come, where actual bookstores will be a thing of the past? Probably not, judging from the current flowering of small local bookshops.

But the days of big Barnes and Noble outlets in New York may be numbered, as Amazon crushes their margins with its cheaper (often tax free) warehouses and ruthless pricing and makes many unprofitable, and expiring ten year leases can only be renewed at forbidding cost which promises to drag them under later. The closing of Borders has not yielded an uptick in Barnes and Noble’s sales.

Such an absence would lose exactly the serendipity which makes the Book Expo such a pleasure. The only way to deal with such abundance is to look for specific kinds of books, in our case science, politics and economics.

Outstanding books

Here are our finds in that realm which seem to comprise distinctly fewer big topics than last year (has all the available ground been covered? Are we entering the End of Science Writing?):

The Polish Cultural Institute is a presence at BEA under the direction of David Goldfarb with Dorota Piotrowska. A prize offering at the Polish Cultural Institute was Artur Domoslawksi's biography of the remarkable literary journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski: A Life. (David Goldfarb Literature and Humanities Programming Polish Cultural Institute 239 7300 x 3002 david.goldfarb@instytutpolski.org PolishCulture-NYC.org).

Norton (Louise Brockett VP Exec Dir Publicity and PR 790 4266lbrockett@wwnorton.com) Fall 2013:
Shores of Knowledge by Joyce Appleby (288pp October)
Feminine Mystique by Betty Friendan intro by Gail Collins, Afterword by Anna Quindlen (592 pp, September)
Spillover: Animal Infections and the next Human Pandemic by David Quammen (592 pp, September)
The Spark of Life: Electricity in the Human Body by Frances Ashcroft (September)
Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience by Laurence Gonzales (272 pp, October, Pbk)
Double Entry: How The Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance by Jane Glesson-White (304 pp, October Pbk)
Poems of Jesus Christ trans by Willis Bernstone (288 pp December Pbk)
E E Cummings Complete Poems 1904-1962 (September 1136 pp)
The Wasteland T.S. Eliot (intro by Paul Muldoon) (112 pp September)
The Myth of America’s Decline: Politics, Economics, and a Half Century of False Prophecies by Josef Joffe (272 pp, Liveright, November)
Stop Me If You’ve Heard This: A History and Philosophy of Jokes by Jim Holt (160 pp, Liveright, October)
George Orwell Diaries Ed by Peter Davison Intro by Christopher Hitchens (624 pp, Pbk, October)
Chess Tactics for the Tournament Player by GM Sam Palatbik and GM Lev Alburt (256 p, Pbk, September)
Recent: Short (International Anthology of Five Centuries of Short-Short Stories, Prose Poems, Brief Essays and other Short Prose Forms ((under 1250 wds) Ed by Alan Ziegler (368 pp, February)
Naked Statistics Charles Wheelan,
Mary Roach Gulp (Adventures of the Alimentary Canal) 352 pp April 2013.
Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection by Ethan Zuckerman
Joe Stiglitz The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future
Extra Virginity: The Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller
Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History by Florence Williams
Neil deGrasse Tyson Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier
The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google by Nicholas Carr (The Definitive Guide to the Cloud Computing Revolution)

Harper Collins imprint Ecco Michael McKenzie Senior Director of Publicity

Penguin Katie Grinch Ass Dir Publicity Putnam’s 366 2574 katie.grinch@us.penguingroup.com General Tel 366 2847.

Thames and Hudson Christoper Sweet Ed Director 354 9181 csweet@thames.wwnorton.com
Are We Being Watched: The Search for Life in the Cosmos by Paul Murdin (p x).

Naked Calories and Rich Food, Poor Food by Jayson Calton (CaltonNutrition 941-882-4297 caltons@mac.com) Excellent guides by an independent author and his wife, who traveled the world to find out the truth about diet and health for themselves – curing her of very early osteoporosis in the process. Beautifully produced volumes with accurate information.

Princeton (Casey LaVela Publicity c 609-258.9491 casey_lavel@press.princeton.edu)
The Universe in Zero Words: The Story of Mathematics As Told Through Equations by Dana Mckenzie. Against the tide of editing science books which seeks to include as few equations as possible,. Dana Mackenzie, a mathematics professor turned author, fearlessly lifts the veil of mystery from mathematics and equations, traversing all the surprising, concise, consequential and universal equations that are the jewels in the crown of mathematics. Mr Mackenzie’s zeal and clarity are unmatched, and he manages to o embody his material in story telling throughout.

Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson (Princeton, 500 pp, May 12) is a definitively thorough but readable account of the life of the sane madman who first wired the world (by inventing alternative current) which is well indexed and written by a professor of history, science, technology, engineering and society at the University of Virginia who has read every other book (good and bad) and source on Tesla, whose reputation for original genius is safe in his sober hands. Included is a nice discussion of why individuals such as Tesla are motivated to do the hard and risky work of developing disruptive technology.

ECW Press. Mad Like Tesla: Underdog Inventors and Their Relentless Pursuit of Clean Energy by Tyler Hamilton. A fine rundown on quirky clean energy inventors who follow in the tradition of Tesla, whose story of incredible mystic inventiveness in electricity is summarized very well in the opening pages, justifying his recent renaissance in reputation which now exceeds Edison in the field.

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Against Scientific Reductionism

Salutary Tilts Against Neuroscientists’ Simplemindedness

Silliness of MRI as Thoughts in Motion

DNA Foolishness – Blueprint Alone Doth Not Make A Phenotype

Overreaching by neuroscientists trounced in this smart book essay

The new book The Science Delusion by Curtis White from mhpbooks.com 718 722 9204 nick@mhpbooks.com is a richly worded attack on the hubris of neuroscientists in their rather childish peddling of Catscans and MRI as showing the mind in action. In particular, having trounced Hitchens and Hawking for missing out on the glory and beauty of religion in trashing its lack of logic, White punishes the unhappy Jonah Lehrer and his best seller (now withdrawn owing to Lehrer admitting he made up a couple of quotes from Bob Dylan to prove his point) Imagine: How Creativity Works (2012) for his shallow simplification of how creativity works. .

Debunking the reductionism of modern brain science is becoming popular. The remarkable John Brockman in his latest (Jan 2013) annual collection of deep thinking on the part of cutting edge scientists and other philosophers of reality THIS EXPLAINS EVERYTHING Edited by John Brockman 411 pages. Harper Perennial. $15.99 offers a huge selection of paths into the deeper how and why. http://www.edge.org/annual-question/what-is-your-favorite-deep-elegant-or-beautiful-explanation

Here is Andrew Sullivan’s pick from the book:

Edge.org asked 191 famous thinkers “What is Your Favorite Deep, Elegant, or Beautiful Explanation?” Daniel Dennett’s choice:

I was told some years ago that the reason why some species of sea turtles migrate all the way across the South Atlantic to lay their eggs on the east coast of South America after mating on the west coast of Africa is that when the behavior started, Gondwanaland was just beginning to break apart (that would be between 130 and 110 million years ago), and these turtles were just swimming across the narrow strait to lay their eggs. Each year the swim was a little longer—maybe an inch or so—but who could notice that? Eventually they were crossing the ocean to lay their eggs, having no idea, of course, why they would do such an extravagant thing.

What is delicious about this example is that it vividly illustrates several important evolutionary themes: the staggering power over millions of years of change so gradual it is essentially unnoticeable, the cluelessness of much animal behavior, even when it is adaptive, and of course the eye-opening perspective that evolution by natural selection can offer to the imagination of the curious naturalist.

Now we have Thomas Nagel’s new critique of reductionist science in a book, Mind and Cosmos, noticed by Maria Popova on Brain Pickings:

http://www.amazon.com/Mind-Cosmos-Materialist-Neo-Darwinian-Conception/dp/0199919755/ref=sr_1_1?tag=braipick-20

Thomas Nagel is University Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the School of Law at New York University. His books include The Possibility of Altruism, The View from Nowhere, and What Does It All Mean?: A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. In 2008, he was awarded the Rolf Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy and the Balzan Prize in Moral Philosophy.

Mind and Cosmos by Thomas Nagel argues against the hubris of simple explanations

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/10/30/mind-and-cosmos-thomas-nagel/

Mind and Cosmos: Philosopher Thomas Nagel’s Brave Critique of Scientific Reductionism
by Maria Popova
How our hunger for definitive answers robs us of the intellectual humility necessary for understanding the universe and our place in it.

“The purpose of science is not to cure us of our sense of mystery and wonder,” Stanford’s Robert Sapolsky famously noted, “but to constantly reinvent and reinvigorate it.” And yet, we live in a media culture that warps seeds of scientific understanding into sensationalist, definitive headlines about the gene for obesity or language or homosexuality and maps where, precisely, love or fear or the appreciation of Jane Austen is located in the brain — even though we know that it isn’t the clinging to answers but the embracing of ignorance that drives science.

In 1974, philosopher Thomas Nagel penned the essay “What It’s Like To Be A Bat?”, which went on to become one of the seminal texts of contemporary philosophy of mind. Nearly four decades later, he returns with Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False (public library) — a provocative critique of the limits of scientific reductionism, exploring what consciousness might be if it isn’t easily explained as a direct property of physical interactions and if the door to the unknown were, as Richard Feynman passionately advocated, left ajar.

To be sure, Nagel is far from siding with the intellectual cop-outs of intelligent design. His criticism of reductive materialism isn’t based on religious belief (or on any belief in a particular alternative, for that matter) but, rather, on the insistence that a recognition of these very limitations is a necessary precondition for exploring such alternatives, “or at least being open to their possibility” — a possibility that makes mind central to understanding the natural order, rather than an afterthought or a mere byproduct of physical laws.

He writes in the introduction:

[T]he mind-body problem is not just a local problem, having to do with the relation between mind, brain, and behavior in living animal organisms, but that it invades our understanding of the entire cosmos and its history.

[…]

Humans are addicted to the hope for a final reckoning, but intellectual humility requires that we resist the temptation to assume that tools of the kind we now have are in principle sufficient to understand the universe as a whole.

As a proponent of making the timeless timely again through an intelligent integration of history with contemporary culture, I find Nagel’s case for weaving a historical perspective into the understanding of mind particularly compelling:

The world is an astonishing place, and the idea that we have in our possession the basic tools needed to understand it is no more credible now than it was in Aristotle’s day.

[…]

The greatest advances in the physical and biological sciences were made possible by excluding the mind from the physical world. This has permitted a quantitative understanding of the world, expressed in timeless, mathematically formulated physical laws, But at some point it will be necessary to make a new start on a more comprehensive understanding that includes the mind. It seems inevitable that such an understanding will have a historical dimension as well as a timeless one. The idea that historical understanding is part of science has become familiar through the transformation of biology by evolutionary theory. But more recently, with the acceptance of the big bang, cosmology has also become a historical science. Mind, as a development of life, must be included as the most recent stage of this long cosmological history, and its appearance, I believe, casts its shadow back over the entire process and the constituents and principles on which the process depends.

Ultimately, Nagel echoes John Updike’s reflection on the possibility of “permanent mystery”:

It is perfectly possible that the truth is beyond our reach, in virtue of our intrinsic cognitive limitations and not merely beyond our grasp in humanity’s present stage of intellectual development.

Though Mind and Cosmos isn’t a neat package of scientific, or even philosophical, answers, it’s a necessary thorn in the side of today’s all-too-prevalent scientific reductionism and a poignant affirmation of Isaac Asimov’s famous contention that “the most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.”

Well, OK, though one remains unpersuaded that simple algorithms cannot flower into amazing creations, as computer models have shown.

Meanwhile, the intelligent design people are unbowed:

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/how-dna-proves-god-made-all-creatures-great-and-small

[spoiler title=”Click for the text” open=”0″ style=”1″] How DNA Proves God Made All Creatures Great and Small
July 10, 2009 – 12:07 AM
Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection may be able to explain how living creatures can evolve from one form to another, but it cannot explain how something that was not alive evolved into the first life on Earth.
By Terence P. Jeffrey
Subscribe to Terence P. Jeffrey RSS
(CNSNews.com) – Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection may be able to explain how living creatures can evolve from one form to another, but it cannot explain how something that was not alive evolved into the first life on Earth.

Stephen C. Meyer, a Cambridge trained scholar in the philosophy of science, does have an explanation for how life on Earth began: the DNA in every cell of every creature shows unmistakable evidence of having been deliberately designed by an intelligent being.

Meyer lays out his analysis in a new book, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. He discussed his book and his case for an Intelligent Designer with CNSNews.com Editor in Chief Terry Jeffrey.

Here is a transcript of their conversation:

Terry Jeffrey: Welcome to “Online With Terry Jeffrey.” Our guest for this episode is Dr. Stephen C. Meyer. Dr. Meyer holds a Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University in England.

A one time geophysicist and college professor, he’s now director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle, Washington. Meyer became part of a national controversy five years ago when The Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, a publication staffed by scientists from the Smithsonian Institution, published the first ever peer-reviewed article arguing for intelligent design in the creation of life on Earth. Dr. Meyer is the author of that article.

He is now the author of a book, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, that makes the same argument. Dr. Meyer, thanks for coming. I appreciate having you here.

Stephen Meyer: It’s good to be here, Terry.

Jeffrey: So, you’re arguing, as I understand your book, that DNA itself presents evidence for why people should see behind living creatures on Earth an intelligent design and therefore a designer. Let’s start out with something very basic. What is DNA?

Meyer: That’s a great question. It’s the molecule of heredity is one of the easiest answers. It stores information for building proteins–probably not every trait, we used to think it had the code for everything, but we now realize that it codes for proteins. It has the information, the instruction set, for building the proteins that are necessary to keep the cell alive; and proteins are critical, they’re like the toolbox of the cell.

Jeffrey: Now, does every living creature on Earth have DNA?

Meyer: Oh, absolutely.

Jeffrey: Every single, living thing. We’ve never discovered anything that doesn’t have DNA?

Meyer: No, DNA runs the show inside the cell. It directs protein synthesis and then the proteins do all the important jobs that keep things going.

Jeffrey: So, every living thing on the face of the Earth has cells?

Meyer: Right

Jeffrey: And within these cells they have this thing called DNA?

Meyer: Exactly.

Jeffrey: And DNA is a protein?

Meyer: No. DNA is nucleic acid, it’s called–in the parlance of chemistry.

Jeffrey: It’s a type of acid?

Meyer: Yes. But what’s interesting–we all know it—it’s almost a cultural icon: the double helix. It’s a beautiful structure. We learn about its chemical properties when we learn chemistry or biochemistry in high school or college, but very rarely do we focus on the information-bearing properties of the molecule, and that’s the critical thing.

Jeffrey: Okay, so this DNA that every single living creature has, it isn’t a disorganized thing, is it?

Meyer: No, it’s highly organized, but it’s a particular kind of organization or order. It’s informational.

The great discovery came in 1953 of the structure of the molecule, but I think something even more striking was Francis Crick’s sequence hypothesis. He proposed it in 1957, and he proposed that four of the chemicals in DNA, along the interior, on the spine of the molecule, called bases, function exactly like alphabetic characters in a written text or digital characters in a section of a machine code.

So, it wasn’t just the chemical structure of DNA that was significant, it was the fact that it carried instructions.

Jeffrey: Let me ask you this: Is the chemical composition of DNA the same from creature to creature, the chemicals that make it up?

Meyer: Oh, yeah, the basic four elements. There are bases, and then sugars and phosphates, and they’re the same. But it’s the arrangement of the bases that are different. Just as you could have a group of Scrabble letters on the table, but what would make each grouping different is the way that it was arranged to either spell information, spell a message, or just be gibberish.

Jeffrey: So every living thing on the face of the Earth has DNA.

Meyer: Yep.

Jeffrey: All the DNA in all these living creatures has the same chemical composition.

Meyer: Same chemical composition.

Jeffrey: Made up of the same things, but there’s–

Meyer: But different sequential arrangements.

Jeffrey: Of these four–

Meyer: Of the four key letters or bases.

Jeffrey: The four characters.

Meyer: The four characters.

Jeffrey: So, we–

Meyer: And that’s not just a metaphor. They actually function like characters in a message system.

Jeffrey: Now, a hundred years ago, the human race didn’t know any of this.

Meyer: Oh, no. No. This is 1953, Watson and Crick. And then the ensuing fifteen years were a period of great productivity in molecular biology.

Jeffrey: So, even at the time when World War II came to a close, we didn’t know this?

Meyer: No. There were some scientists who were anticipating that there must be something beyond just matter and energy driving things in life. There had to be some kind of informational–

Jeffrey: There’s sort of this long-term question humans had. They would see people have children, and they’d go, you know, “Gee, those children look like their parents.”

Meyer: Exactly.

Meyer: Like begets like, why is that?

Jeffrey: Those dogs look like the dog it came out of. That horse looks like that horse or is fast like that horse. They knew there was something about the reproduction of living things that passed on characteristics and traits from one generation to another.

Meyer: Right, some kind of signal or something, but people didn’t know where it resided.

Jeffrey: Even at the close of World War II, we didn’t know.

Meyer: No, no.

Jeffrey: So, this is a very new–

Meyer: Very new discovery in historic terms, and there have been several phases of it. There was the Watson-Crick discovery of the molecule itself, the structure of the molecule, then the recognition that it was directing the show with information.

Jeffrey: Let’s start from there. These are – this Watson and Crick, who are they?

Meyer: James Watson: American born biologist who was a bird-watcher as a young man—wiz kid–and went off to finished his Ph.D. at a very young age. Went off to Europe and finally ended up in Cambridge, where he met up with Francis Crick, who had been a code-breaker in World War II, didn’t have a Ph.D. yet, was working on his Ph.D. in the field of crystallography, he was more of a physicist than a biologist. And they teamed up and cracked this mystery.

Jeffrey: They were trying to find out what it was in a cell that they suspected might be causing the transmission of traits from one generation to another?

Meyer: Right. By the early 50s, people had become more and more convinced it must be in DNA. They knew some things about the DNA molecule, but they didn’t understand its structure, and when they cracked the structure, when they realized what the structure was, then they were able to – then one of the first things that occurred to them was that it was set up to store code, and the structure of it allowed for the arrangement–these different arrangements of characters.

Jeffrey: They discovered, first of all, that there was this double helix structure to this acid?

Meyer: Exactly. And there were new ideas. Maybe it was a triple helix. People had different ideas about the different structure of it, but as the British say, “They got it right.”

Jeffrey: And they figured out there was coding on the double helix that actually determined the traits of living things.

Meyer: Exactly, or it had the information for building the proteins that the cell needs to keep alive. Good analogy: Toolbox. Hammer, saw, wrench–each has a different shape, each performs a different function, and the proteins are the same. Each has a different shape, and in virtue of the shapes they have, they perform different functions–but they acquire the shape based on how their constituent parts are arranged, and that’s all determined by the DNA.

Jeffrey: Okay, and so this other scientist came along in 1957, and he discovered the sort of alphabet of the DNA–this coding system.

Meyer: Well, this was Crick again. He was brilliant. You know, he was literally a code-breaker when he got into biology. I mean, he proposed that not only was the molecule a double helix, but along the spine, those interior characters, those chemicals–the As, Gs, Zs, and Ts as we now represent them–actually function like alphabetic characters in a written language .

Jeffrey: Okay, so when you’re talking about the distinction of two individuals of the same species–you and me–how would our DNA be different? How would we distinguish one from the other, just looking at our DNA?

Meyer: Well, typically it’s very small differences in the DNA but–because many of the proteins that we have our doing the same job. You know, you’ve got hemoglobin in you blood; I’ve got hemoglobin in my blood. Both of the molecules would be extremely similar, because they’re doing the same job. They’re capturing oxygen in blood.

Jeffrey: So, between any two humans, the coding on the DNA is pretty much the same.

Meyer: Pretty much the same.

Jeffrey: And there’s a few things that are altered in terms of this coding?

Meyer: Exactly.

Jeffrey: That cause people to have characteristics and traits that you might associate with one family or one lineage of–

Meyer: Right, but we’re also learning that there’s information stored at higher levels within the cell, and the term of art for that now is ontogenetic information, and it’s–the difference is in the–it’s more like the DNA has the information for building the small level parts, the proteins, but how the proteins are arranged into distinctive types of cells, how distinctive types of cells are arranged to form distinctive types of tissues, how distinctive tissues are arranged to form distinctive organs, how organs and tissues are arranged to create what are called body plans–whole architectures, blueprints–that does not seem to be entirely controlled by DNA. And so, scientists are very interested in finding out where these other levels of information are, in a sense, the blueprint for arranging the parts. The rivets on a ship and the rivets on a plane may be very different, but they’re part of a larger architecture that’s determined by blueprints.

Jeffrey: And scientists haven’t discovered all these things,?

Meyer: No. We know where some of that ontogenetic information resides, but not all of it, and it’s a great area of continuing research.

Jeffrey: So, people are looking for it, they’re trying to find out–

Meyer: Exactly.

Jeffrey: –they’re trying to deal with theories to explain how these ordering mechanisms work?

Meyer: Exactly. Organisms are fascinatingly complex systems, and it makes sense that we have a hierarchy of information in our own digital computer systems, which are high-tech information processing systems. We have layers of information that are controlling the cell.

Jeffrey: Okay, so you’re saying the DNA is actually an information system?

Meyer: Yes.

Jeffrey: How dose that compare to the information systems that we have in computers?

Meyer: Well, that’s where I think the story gets very interesting. I have a software engineer friend. He is doing some work for us; he retired early from Microsoft–means he was about 38 or 40. Young guy. Brilliant architect level programmer at Microsoft. He’s writing code for us to–working with our molecular biologists to write a simulation of how genetic information is expressed for us to build proteins. So, we’re having an artificial-based, computer-based simulation of what’s called the gene expression system. He walks into my office one day, throws a book down on the table. It’s called Design Patterns–standard textbook for computer design engineers–and he says, “I get the eerie feeling, when I’m looking at what’s going on in the cell, that’s somebody’s figured this out before us.”

And I said, “What do you mean?”

And he says, “Well, it’s the design patterns,” and then he points to the book. He says, “We have” – design pattern is a term of art for design strategy or design logic, and he says: “We’ve got design logic for processing information, for doing error correction, for doing distributed data retrieval and reassembly, and for hierarchical organization–we’ve got files within folders, like on your desktop, you know, in the hierarchical filing system.”

And he says, “All those design patterns are inside the cell, except they’re using a design logic that’s like an 8.0, 9.0, 10.0 version of ours. It’s the same basic logic, but it’s more elegantly executed,” and he says, “It gives me an eerie feeling.”

Jeffrey: And that logic is embedded in the DNA of the simplest living creature on the face of the Earth?

Meyer: In the DNA and the overall architecture of the information processing system.

Jeffrey: And the earliest creature that’s ever been found historically, that same logic would be embedded?

Meyer: Yeah, there’s some differences from what are called eukaryotic cells, which–cells with nuclei, and then simpler prokaryotes, but it’s all—it’s very sophisticated, hierarchical arrangements of informational modules.

Jeffrey: In all the ways that living things on the face of the earth, from trees, to grass, to human beings, to animals, whatever it is, their design is generated out of this logic in the DNA?

Meyer: Exactly. Either the information embedded in DNA or these other hierarchies of information, these other layers that govern how DNA information is expressed.

Jeffrey: Okay, Charles Darwin, who lived and wrote before DNA was discovered, had no idea what DNA was. How did he explain that things got designed, how living things on the face of the earth got designed?

Meyer: Well, he believed that living organisms looked as though they were designed, and in fact most biologists down through the ages have acknowledged the appearance of design. The modern Neo-Darwinists today do as well. Richard Dawkins says that biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.

Jeffrey: But saying design presupposes that there is a designer.

Meyer: No, not for the Darwinists– and this gets to your question–Darwin proposed a mechanism, natural selection acting on random variations, and the emphasis there is on the natural and the random. The mechanism is not guided or directed in any way, but it can produce the appearance of design, he claimed, without in any way being designed or guided. There was no guiding hand behind it, so it could mimic the powers of a designing intelligence without itself being designed or guided in any way.

Jeffrey: So, natural selection does what exactly?

Meyer: Well, it produces new form, new structure, new variations.

Jeffrey: How?

Meyer: Well, there’s a variation in the traits of an organism, we now would call them mutations, and link that to our understanding of DNA–and then if those changes confer a functional or survival advantage on the organism that possesses it, it will out-compete other organisms that don’t have that advantage, and therefore will, by definition, pass them on to ensuing offspring.

Jeffrey: So, over time, the creature will conform to a certain design or order, because the natural environment–

Meyer: Well, it will progressively small incremental variations and changes, and therefore acquire new traits and if the traits help it survive then–so, the classic example was the example of adaptation. In a talk I give, I use the example of sheep. If you’re a sheepherder in Scotland, you’re trying to get a woollier breed of sheep. What do you do? Well, you choose intelligently the woolliest males and the woolliest ewes, and only those animals, to breed. After a succession of generations, you’re going to end up with a woollier population. Darwin said, well, wait. What if you had a series of very cold winters? Wouldn’t you end up with the same effect, where only the woolliest survive? So, what he was trying to do with natural selection was supplant the need for a designing intelligence to account for how organisms were adapted to their environment. Wooly animals are well adapted to a cold environment. And that mechanism, I think, works well to explain minor effects, like that kind of adaptation, but the question is: Does it explain the origin of sheep in the first place? Or the mammalian body plan? Or the information that’s necessary to build an animal like that?

Jeffrey: Which is a big question. So, you’re saying that, if you start with a primitive form of a particular creature, natural selection is a plausible explanation for why it took certain shapes and forms.

Meyer: Yeah, exactly. These minor modifications to environment. No one disputes that.

Jeffrey: Well, let me kick you back to what I think is the fundamental question at the heart of your book. If you start at point A, where there’s no living thing on the face of the Earth, there’s no life on Earth, and point B is a place where the first life exist, did Darwin, though his theory, have an explanation for how you got from point A, where there’s no life, to point B, where there is the first life?

Meyer: Oh, he most definitely did not. He was quite emphatic about this, that he did not have an explanation for the origin of life. Neither did anyone else at the time. At one point, he said we may as well speculate about the origin of matter itself. He did offer some speculations. It fell to later scientists to propose evolutionary explanations for the origin of the first life, but 150 years after the publication of Origin of Species, that is this year, we have no satisfactory evolutionary account for how life first began.

Jeffrey: Darwin himself was humble about this–

Meyer: Yes, exactly.

Jeffrey: He wasn’t claiming he could say how life could be created out non-life. He didn’t–

Meyer: No, he presupposed one or a few simple forms is the way he put it, and then explained how later, more complicated forms arose from those simpler forms. There’s, I think, a suppressed but significant scientific debate about whether or not Darwin’s mechanism could explain how you get news and more complex form from this simple life, but no one debates whether or not there’s an adequate evolutionary explanation for the first life itself.

Jeffrey: The actual physical scientific evidence would say that the earliest creatures we’ve discovered on the face of this Earth in fact had DNA with this kind of coding.

Meyer: Oh, right. I mean it’s–the earliest cells have all the same kind of structure, as best we can tell. So, this is–

Jeffrey: From the evidence, we went from no life on Earth to life that had this incredibly complex DNA that had coding in it that would determine how the offspring of that creature would be formed and shaped.

Meyer: Right, but at the time, in the years just after Darwin, scientists had no inkling of this. So they weren’t too worried about their inability to explain the origin of life, because they assumed it was a simple globule of undifferentiated protoplasm was the one on scientist, Thomas Huxley, put it. So, they thought of a cell as a kind of simple glob of goo, and of course, all that changed radically after 1953 with Watson and Crick’s discoveries about the complexity and structure of DNA and other discoveries that were being made at the same time about proteins. And then scientists showed how the two discoveries were linked together. We got an even greater understanding of the whole information-processing system in the cell.

Jeffrey: All right, so what do you, Dr. Stephen Meyer, what do you say caused the first life to have DNA that had this coding that would determine the shape and the destiny of this creature?

Meyer: Well, I think we’re looking at a distinctive hallmark of intelligent activity. Information, based on what we know from our uniform and repeated experience, which is the basis of all scientific reasoning about the past, always comes from an intelligent source. If you look at a hieroglyphic inscription or a section of machine code, or a headline in a book or article, and you trace it back to its ultimate source, it always comes back to a mind, not a material process. So, when we look, when we see that there’s information embedded in DNA, and we see that that information is necessary to the beginning of the first life, I think what we’re seeing is that there must have been an intelligence that was, that played a role in the origin of life. That’s the most logical thing to conclude.

Jeffrey: That designed DNA?

Meyer: That designed the information that is the source of the information of DNA.

Jeffrey: At the beginning. Now, that doesn’t mean that after DNA was designed and creatures were created, that things might not have evolved or gone through natural selection.

Meyer: Yeah, exactly. As I say, there’s a debate about that, but my book is arguing that, whatever you think about biological evolution, the origin of the first life has not been explained by what’s called chemical evolution, and instead, there is a cause that we know that’s sufficient to produce information, and that cause is intelligence.

Jeffrey: Well, are there scientists who contest that there is in fact information encoded in DNA.

Meyer: No. Well, there are some people that want to say, “Well that’s just a metaphor.” But I address that in the book. It turns out that it really isn’t a metaphor, that Crick was right. His sequence hypothesis–that these characters along the spine of DNA actually function like digital code. They are. It is digital code.

Bill Gates says DNA is like a software program, but much more complex than everything we’ve ever written. Richard Dawkins acknowledges that it’s a machine code. Leroy Hood, a famous scientist out in Seattle, works in the biotech industry, calls it digital code. This is pretty well accepted. There’s only a few people that have tried to quibble about that, and I address that in the book.

Jeffrey: To what degree do you think that the scientific community basically agrees with you and understands this point of view, and to what degree to they not agree with you?

Meyer: Well, as I mentioned, there’s a lot of submerged, or suppressed, dissent about the whole Darwinian synthesis, and the materialistic understanding of biological origins generally. So we have I would say a growing minority of scientists who are very sympathetic to intelligent design. I made a trip to Britain in the spring. I spoke at the city of Darwin’s birth to commemorate his anniversary, and the day before the meeting we had, or the day before the talk, we had a meeting a number of British scientists, full professors of science, many very prominent British scientists have been following our work on intelligent design, and they told us they were entirely on side.

Jeffrey: But do you have tenured professors at major American universities who are looking into this?

Meyer: Oh yeah, yeah. They’re in the minority view. But I think what’s really interesting about the nature of the debate is the people who oppose us don’t do so because there’s, for example, no one says, “We have a better explanation for the origin of the first life.” What they do say instead is, “Well, intelligent design isn’t science”–and they try to define science in such a way to exclude consideration of the design hypothesis.

Jeffrey: Why would people be upset if objective observation of the physical world pointed to a Creator?

Meyer: Well, they may hold a worldview that excludes the existence of a Creator, and they may hold it very strongly. And for that reason, the evidence that we’re pointing to and the argument that we’re developing–or that I’m developing in this case–would be a challenge to what is, in essence, a religious or quasi-religious perspective that people may hold, either explicitly or kind of as a default way of looking at the world.

Jeffrey: So, actually, you believe that some people, some of your critics, may start out with the hypothesis: “There is no God, therefore there can’t be any design, therefore I’m going to refute any argument that presents evidence that there is design.”

Meyer: Oh, I think many do. Just as you may have people that start out with the assumption that there is evidence of, or that there is a God, and therefore they might welcome the kind argument I’m making.

We have this idea of scientists as completely objective guys in white coats who just, you know, look at the evidence and then the theory pops off the evidence and it’s just, it’s obvious. But scientists have ideological commitments, and those differ from scientist to scientist, and that’s one of the reasons that you have controversy.

Jeffrey: Well, Dr. Meyer, in a country that was founded on principle that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, where most people are in fact believers in God and adherents to religion, why is it that we have so much trouble in public schools even entertaining the idea that there is an intelligent designer behind the creation of life on Earth?

Meyer: Well, there’s an old saw that says that if the Indians, I mean the East Indian nation, is the most religious country on Earth and the Swedes are the least, America is a nation of Indians governed by Swedes. Our elite culture has very much tapped into this materialistic worldview, the view that the universe is eternal, self-existent. Matter and energy are the fundamental explanatory principles. There is no God or purpose or objective moral order, that sort of thing. But the common culture is still much more sympathetic to a broadly theistic perspective. So, there’s, in a sense, a contest of ideas within the culture. But many folks who are in the law schools, the courts, the scientific world certainly hold this materialistic worldview, and so the case for intelligent design being a challenge to the idea that matter and energy are the whole show–we’re saying that, no, there’s something else, and it’s called information, and information always comes from a mind or intelligence–that’s a troubling argument to someone that holds that view.

Jeffrey: In your book, you talk about a prominent Soviet scientist who basically tried to advance the Darwinian idea, can you talk about that?

Meyer: His name was Alexander Oparin. He was really the first pioneering scientist to try to come up with an evolutionary explanation for the origin of the first life. He knew that there was this lacuna in the broadly Darwinian approach. Darwin explained, or tried to explain, how you get new form from pre-existing forms of life, and Oparin tried to fill in that gap by showing how the chemicals could evolve to form the first cell.

Jeffrey: In other words, he understood the question that is at the root of your book.

Meyer: Exactly.

Jeffrey: He saw this was the Achilles heel of Darwinism.

Meyer: Well, technically Darwinism doesn’t address this question, but it was an Achilles heel of what you might call a materialistic world picture.

Jeffrey: If people wanted to write God out of creation.

Meyer: If you want to have a materialistic creation story, you’ve got to have an account of the origin of the first life, as well as all the other forms that follow.

Jeffrey: This man was in fact a Marxist.

Meyer: Yeah.

Jeffrey: And so wanted to close the loop and write a creation story that eliminated God and was completely consistent with the materialistic Soviet view.

Meyer: Definitely with a materialistic worldview. It’s not clear exactly how much his specifically Marxist views were motivating his science, but he definitely was a staunch materialist in at least the Western sense, and maybe more.

Jeffrey: And did that same sort of Marxist desire to close the loop on Darwin’s argument, did you see that in the West?

Meyer: I’m not sure how much it influenced the West, but there was a British scientist, Haldane, that had strong left-leaning politics that may have had some Marxist sympathies, and he had a hypothesis very similar to Alexander Oparin’s. Where you did see it very overtly was in the works of Engels. Engels thought that, just as there was a revolutionary transformation in society, there must have been such a revolutionary transformation from molecules to life.

Jeffrey: This is Friedrich Engels. This is the co-author of The Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx? He embraced Darwin’s ideas?

Meyer: Oh, very much so.

Jeffrey: Because he saw they were consistent with the Marxist vision of human life.

Meyer: There was quite a correspondence, actually, at one point, between Darwin and Marx, and Marx embraced Darwin probably more than Darwin wanted to embrace Marx. But Darwinism, which entails this strict denial of any design behind life, ended up being a taproot for a lot of different materialistic ideologies. The one, you know, in the Soviet Union was a Marxist form. In the West, we have what’s called scientific materialism. Also, the eugenicists tapped into it, trying to improve the gene pool with scientific experimentation. There were even some, you know, extreme robber baron capitalists who justified the ethic of, you know, crush your neighbor in business type of thing.

Jeffrey: So Dr. Meyer, you have this on debate in the scientific realm about whether the objective evidence we can see points to and intelligent designer behind life.

Meyer: Exactly.

Jeffrey: You have this other debate in society in general about what are the more rules that should guide our behavior, that should guide our law, and whether they’re immutable and unchangeable, and whether everybody had to obey them. Do you think there’s a connection between these two debates?

Meyer: Oh, absolutely. The connection has to do with a person’s view of design. If the human moral order, if the human person is designed, then you can have definite human nature, you can have an understanding that there is a definite human nature, and therefore there are moral laws that advance human flourishing and there’s this whole natural law tradition of Western philosophy.

The case for intelligent design, the scientific case that we’re making, in a broad sense, supports and reinforces that. The alternate view is what you might call the existentialist view, which denies that there is a definite, pre-given design for human nature, and that flowed out of the Darwinian idea that things morphed gradually and indefinitely, so there was no static human nature, no essence, and once you deny that, then human nature becomes a matter of human choice, human construction. This came with Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir and those folks.
And then morality becomes a matter of each person’s subjective choice, and it leads directly to moral relativism, and I would say moral confusion that we’ve had in modern society.

Jeffrey: And the most powerful people in society can make up their own morality and impose it on everybody else.

Meyer: Well, they have to, because if there’s no objective standard above us all to which we must all conform, then power determines what’s right.

Jeffrey: And if you live in a society whose creed begins with the idea that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and you refute the idea that in fact there is a Creator that not only designed the way that human beings are physically, but designed the moral order–

Meyer: You’ve undermined the foundation of the American Revolution.

Jeffrey: So, this Darwinian idea basically can undercut the very founding of our country.

Meyer: It’s ironic, but you know, in a country founded on the idea, where our liberties are linked inextricably to the reality of a Creator, we have now used the Founding–this misapplication of the principle of separation of church and state–to actually exclude the idea that there is evidence for a Creator.

Jeffrey: But your book argues that the observable reality of biology reinforces the idea.

Meyer: Exactly, and that’s actually an idea that a number of the founders really liked, Jefferson in particular. And in fact, some folks, I have been in Washington this week, and I have met some people who are great fans of Jefferson who’ve been sending me emails with quotes from him about the compelling case from physiology, from astronomy, from various branches of science supporting the existence of–he used the word an intelligent and personal designer or something, you know. He had the concept, no question.

Jeffrey: Dr. Meyer, author of Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, thank you very much.

Meyer: Thank you, Terry.[/spoiler]

Evidence for a Creator because we don’t understand how a marvel was accomplished? Cmon, Jeffrey, mystery does not prove God!

No end to the hubris of man, scientist or creator worshipper!

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The Time It Takes

Time waits for no man, and passes even more rapidly if you are reading anything

As one who possesses not one but three editions of the Britannica in print – the 11th, the 13th and the appallingly organized Macro and Micro one circa 1995 – one wonders how long it would take to read them all once.

According to Wiki,

“A.J. Jacobs, an editor at Esquire magazine, read the entire 2002 version of the 15th edition, describing his experiences in the well-received 2004 book, The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World. Only two people are known to have read two independent editions: the author C. S. Forester[12] and Amos Urban Shirk, an American businessman, who read the 11th and 14th editions, devoting roughly three hours per night for four and a half years to read the 11th.[31]”

The forgotten factor in life

This reminds us of a factor which seems to be neglected more and more in the excitement over new technology and how it expands our horizons, makes the world’s knowledge accessible to all, etc etc.

Time. There are only 24 hours in anyone’s day. This is precisely the same as when Socrates walked the earth of Athens.

With over 100 as yet unseen movies on our Netflix list, and our three Tivos clogged with possibly 300 hours of backlogged tv and film, not to mention 7000 LPs of half an hour of music each, not to mention over 100gb of MP3 music – mostly the very best of jazz and classical and blues – on our players, not to mention about 500 VHS tapes of movies and another 100 of old TV, such as a priceless copy of the Clarence Thomas hearings, plus maybe 3000 books, most of which are treasures in part or in whole, one would need nine lives to get through it all once.


Why a scholar divorced

So what is going on here? Does it all make sense? Does any of it make sense?

Women of course say most of it should be tossed, as a matter of principle, the principle being to clear the space in a home for everyday functioning and extending hospitality to visitors. In other words, real life. Life, as in living.

Men, of course, sympathize – with us. They are mostly ready to give up real life in huge chunks for what goes on in the brain, fed by fantasy material or simply scholarship.

We once asked a very distinguished Oxford mathematician why he had suffered a divorce from his presumably charming wife, and he gave us to understand it was because he developed the habit of taking his books to bed with him.

One giant step

Anyhow, our point is, there are only 24 hours a day, and one only has one life to live (presumably), and that life is virtually certain to end before the 100th year.

What sense does it make to have a personal library of one million hours worth of text video and music?

We have cancelled our subscription to the New York Times today.

One small step for man, one giant leap (in the end) for mankind, if others follow.

Woops!

UPDATE: OK, we gave in. The Times offered four months at half price for the summer, and we fell for it.

So we will have another 120 copies of this reporting treasure chest to get through, which of course, life being what it is in New York City, the capital of information and self indulgence of the entire world, we won’t. Not in four months. Probably not in six months. Probably not ever.

At some point we will probably chuck the entire pile out without keeping more than a few clips, and probably fail to do anything with them.

Let’s see.

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Supplements Contain Wildly Varying Amounts of Vitamin D

As little as 9 per cent and as high as 140 per cent of labeled amounts

Every day brings more news of what cheats and liars corporations in the US often are in marketing products with misleading labels and other misinformation to induce consumers to waste their money on rubbish, especially in the food category,.

Now a study of Vitamin D supplements carried out in Portland Oregon and published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that Vitamin D levels in supplements are not often the ones printed on the labels, the Times reports:

The amounts of vitamin D present in supplements sold over the counter often bear little resemblance to the descriptions on the bottle labels, a new study concludes.

Researchers used high-performance liquid chromatography to analyze pills in 55 bottles of vitamin D bought at five stores in Portland, Ore. Their results were published online last week in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the potency of vitamin D supplements, but companies may choose to comply with the standards of the United States Pharmacopeial Convention, which requires that pills contain 90 percent to 110 percent of the listed potency.

In pills from bottles made by a single manufacturer, but in different lots, the researchers found potencies as low as 9 percent and as high as 140 percent of the listed dose. They averaged the dosages of five pills from each bottle and found that only two-thirds met the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention standard.

Pills from the bottle of the one manufacturer that was verified by the convention averaged 101.7 percent of the listed dosage, although the potency varied considerably from pill to pill.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Erin S. LeBlanc, a researcher at Kaiser Permanente in Portland, recommended looking for the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention seal when shopping for vitamins. “If you have a bottle with the U.S.P. stamp on it,” she said, “you can feel reassured that what’s listed on the label is actually in the bottle.”

So how about the orange juice we buy which claims to be fortified with Vitamin D and Calcium? Are we getting the advertised amounts, or less?

Some of the Comments are worthwhile. Here’s one:

Doug RifeSarasota, FL
There appears to be an error in this story as in the abstract the range reported was 52% to 135% of the specified dose, not 9% to 140% This may reflect an average taken over 5 pills and not single pill variation. It should be pointed out, however, that in the first place oral vitamin D is poorly absorbed and there is considerable variation among individuals as to the correct oral dose required to achieve a given target blood level. For that reason, many experts recommend measuring blood levels before taking high dose supplements. In some cases supplements are not advisable if blood levels are already optimal, while in others there may be a serious deficiency requiring high oral doses to reach healthy blood levels. Sun exposure and skin color are largest factors but there are other large individual variations that have yet to be explained. African Americans, for example, are much more likely to be deficient than lighter skin individuals. Furthermore, blood levels increase very slowing in response to oral supplementation and that fact alone strongly mitigates against any pill-to-pill variation in dosage being of concern since the average intake over a period of 1-3 months is all that matters. After 3 months of supplementation at high dose its advised by experts to test blood levels again and adjust dosage as indicated. The 25-hydroxy vitamin D test is the most accurate measurement method and the D3 form of the vitamin is recommended for oral supplementation.

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Kid Proves Organic Food Better For Fruitflies

Besting Thousands of Older Scientists, Ria Chhabra, 16, Makes Breakthrough Study, Reports Tara

Or Did She Just Prove the Obvious, Pesticides Cripple Fruitflies?

Fruit flies prove organic better, Ria Chhabra’s study shows

With ignorant and venal food processors and packaged food makers fighting a rearguard action against the galloping progress of organic foods in the US market, those companies wrecking the health of Americans with too much sugar and fat and too few vital nutrients in their revolting fast food and half empty packages of snacks have always been able to say that no one has demonstrated that organic foods are any more nutritious than regular foods, however green the cannonball tomatoes and however tasteless the chicken you find in supermarkets.
Wrong! according to a sensational report by Times Well columnist Tara Parker Pope.
She reports an exciting story. A 16 year old from Dallas who faced this simple question has answered it decisively, assuming that fruit flies are an accurate guide to the nutritional value of food, which we see no reason to decry.

Tara Parker Pope broke this admirable story yesterday in the New York Times, and we are happy to see it is one of the most emailed of the day:

Is Organic Better? Ask a Fruit Fly

When Ria Chhabra, a middle school student near Dallas, heard her parents arguing about the value of organic foods, she was inspired to create a science fair project to try to resolve the debate.

Three years later, Ria’s exploration of fruit flies and organic foods has not only raised some provocative questions about the health benefits of organic eating, it has also earned the 16-year-old top honors in a national science competition, publication in a respected scientific journal and university laboratory privileges normally reserved for graduate students.

The research, titled “Organically Grown Food Provides Health Benefits to Drosophila melanogaster,” tracked the effects of organic and conventional diets on the health of fruit flies. By nearly every measure, including fertility, stress resistance and longevity, flies that fed on organic bananas and potatoes fared better than those who dined on conventionally raised produce.

While the results can’t be directly extrapolated to human health, the research nonetheless paves the way for additional studies on the relative health benefits of organic versus conventionally grown foods. Fruit fly models are often used in research because their short life span allows scientists to evaluate a number of basic biological effects over a relatively brief period of time, and the results provide clues for better understanding disease and biological processes in humans.

For her original middle-school science project, Ria evaluated the vitamin C content of organic produce compared with conventionally farmed foods. When she found higher concentrations of the vitamin in organic foods, she decided she wanted to take the experiment further and measure the effects of organic eating on overall health.

She searched the Internet and decided a fruit fly model would be the best way to conduct her experiment. She e-mailed several professors who maintained fly laboratories asking for assistance. To her surprise, Johannes Bauer, an assistant professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, responded to her inquiry.

“We are very interested in fly health, and her project was a perfect match for what we were doing,” Dr. Bauer said. Although he would not normally agree to work with a middle-school student, he said, Ria performed on the level of a college senior or graduate student. “The seriousness with which she approached this was just stunning,” he said.

Ria worked on the project over the summer, eventually submitting the research to her local science fair competition. The project was named among just 30 finalists in the prestigious 2011 Broadcom Masters national science competition. Dr. Bauer, following his lab’s policy of publishing all research regardless of outcome, urged Ria, then 14, to pursue publication in a scientific journal. Dr. Bauer and an S.M.U. research associate, Santharam Kolli, are listed as co-authors on the research.

Now a sophomore at Clark High School in Plano, Tex., Ria said she was excited to see her work accepted by a scientific journal. “I had no idea what publishing my research meant,” said Ria, who last week was juggling high school exams, a swim meet and a sweet-16 party. “My mom told me, ‘This is a pretty big deal.’”

Ria has continued to work in Dr. Bauer’s lab. For her 10th-grade science fair project she created a model for studying Type 2 diabetes in fruit flies. The work will be presented in a few weeks. She plans to build on that research by studying the effects of alternative remedies, like cinnamon and curcumin, found in turmeric, on diabetes in fruit flies.

Ria said she was only just beginning to think about applying to colleges and is intrigued by Brown University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, although she has not ruled any school in or out. Dr. Bauer said that he was happy to have her working in his lab and that her biggest problem was that “she has too many ideas for her own good.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Bauer said the study of organic foods and fruit fly health has raised some important questions that he hopes can be answered in future research. The difference in outcomes among the flies fed different diets could be due to the effects of pesticide and fungicide residue from conventionally raised foods.

Or it could be that the organic-fed flies thrived because of a higher level of nutrients in the organic produce. One intriguing idea raises the question of whether organically raised plants produce more natural compounds to ward off pests and fungi, and whether those compounds offer additional health benefits to flies, animals and humans who consume organic foods. “There are no hard data on that, but it’s something we’d like to follow up on,” he said.

Dr. Bauer said he’d love to keep Ria around S.M.U. but realizes that she would have her pick of colleges around the country. “She is really extraordinary,” he said. “If she was a graduate student in my lab, she would be tremendous.”

While far more study needs to be conducted to determine the possible benefits of organic foods on human health, the debate has been settled in the Chhabra household, where Ria’s parents no longer argue about the cost of organic food. “All of our fresh produce is organic,” she said.

Wait! The estimable Ria didn’t wash off the pesticide residue from the conventional food, and it crippled the fruit flies?

In other words, pesticides work – on fruit flies!

Darn it. We were as full of admiration for the (then) 13 year old who came up with this idea as everybody else, till we read this factor could be involved in one of the last paragraphs of the story.

Perhaps bananas are far less penetrated by pesticide, or growers don’t even use pesticides on bananas? If so the model might indeed be relevant to the point of greatest interest, whether organic is more nutritious (from extended personal testing this household believes it is!).

Otherwise surely Dr Bauer would have guided Ria to a better model.

We added this comment to the Times comment thread after someone posted that they were sure that Ria was smarter than most of the readers commenting:

Really? Perhaps you are right. Many people who have commented applaud her study as making sense ie demonstrating that organic food is better for you. However, those who point out that using fruit flies to determine the benefit of organic food items compared with similar food items plus pesticide is one with a foregone conclusion are more intelligent, are they not?

The sorry fact is that Ria’s initiative is a waste of time, and ike all young people, she is in need of good advice from older people. She didn’t get it, it seems. What in fact her study does demonstrate is that not all scientists are intelligent. This is an important result.

However, it certainly also demonstrates that pesticides work on fruit flies, and reminds us that they may be deleterious to humans unless the scientists who say they are not are more intelligent than demonstrated in Ria’s case.

What is needed is for Ria to demonstrate that conventional food grown without pesticides is better for fruit flies than organic food grown without pesticides. That would have proved that she was smart, and that admiration for her schoolgirl initiative is smart.

Will someone please step up and fund her new study along these lines, or else, her same study done over using mice or humans? It is time that science proved this either way, instead of the Times generating battling cheering squads on either side without any valid new data.

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‘God particle’ or not, Higgs boson still unproved

Don’t call it the God particle, says atheist who created it

Meanwhile, if accepted, then expansion of the LHC is needless risk of human annihilation

So is it all a joke?  Not if the fate of the human race is at stake

So is it all a joke? Not if the fate of the human race is at stake

According to the Daily Telegraph, Professor Higgs is an atheist and wants us to stop calling the Higgs boson the ‘God particle’, the catchy invention of OMNI editor and writer Dick Teresi in his book with Leon Lederman.

Prof Peter Higgs: Atheist scientist admits he doesn’t believe in ‘god particle’

The scientist behind the Higgs boson, Prof Peter Higgs, has urged people to stop calling it the God particle because he’s an atheist.

By Agencies10:00AM BST 08 Apr 2013
The 83-year-old scientist, who lives in Edinburgh, insisted the reference was not funny and was actually misleading.

He came up with the theory of a subatomic particle, since dubbed the Higgs boson, which would explain the mystery of how things have mass.

But the professor wants people to stop referring to it as the “God particle” because he does not believe the particle holding the physical fabric of the universe together is the work of one almighty creator.
According to Prof Higgs, the nickname actually started as a joke, adding that it was “not a very good one”.

The phrase was created for a popular science book from 1993 by Leon Lederman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, and Dick Teresi, a science writer.
=================================================================
Related Articles
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What’s Higgs boson for? I have no idea, says Prof 06 Jul 2012
Readers’ Higgs boson tweets 05 Jul 2012
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Lederman wrote in the book “God particle”: “This boson is so central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our final understanding of the structure of matter, yet so elusive, that I have given it a nickname: the God particle.

“Why God particle? The publisher wouldn’t let us call it the Goddamn particle, though that might be a more appropriate title, given its villainous nature and the expense it is causing.”

But Prof Higgs, explained his distaste for the term in a BBC Scotland interview. He said: “First of all, I’m an atheist.

“The second thing is I know that name was a kind of joke and not a very good one. I think he shouldn’t have done that as it’s so misleading.”
Prof Higgs has become a global celebrity over the past year since the discovery of an elementary particle consistent with the Higgs boson, which he predicted in 1964. Last year he was recognised in the New Year Honours.
In the 1960s, Prof Higgs and other physicists proposed a mechanism to explain why the most basic building blocks of the Universe have mass.

The mechanism predicts the existence of a Higgs particle, the discovery of which was claimed last year at the Large Hadron Collider.

According to one popular version of the story, Prof Higgs came up with the concept during a walk in the Cairngorms.

The important point now being resolutely overlooked by the media is that it is still a matter of opinion whether the LHC has produced sufficient evidence to establish that the Higgsboson exists for sure. The Times’s most recent piece on the topic suggested that it had but revealed that it was still a matter of uncertainty.

Meanwhile there are those who say that if in fact it has established that the Higgs is real, then there is no need to double to power of the LHC and run it in a new program which will be just as unproven in terms of safety as before.

These critics pointed out earlier inconsistencies in the LHC published safety rationale which amounted to admissions that there was no reason to suppose that the creation of micro black holes and strangelets would be safe The expansion of collisions to higher and higher levels of force was a trip into the unknown where the likelibood of mammoth disaster and the swallowing up of the Earth and all life known to us was not calculable, and remained a possibility according to current theory.

Cern begins LHC upgrade to boost dark matter search

Cern engineers have begun a refurbishment of the Large Hadron Collider in an upgrade that will double its power and could allow scientists to shed light on mysterious “dark matter”.

The £70m revamp of the particle accelerator, which last year helped scientists discover the Higgs Boson, will allow it to smash protons together at twice its current energy.

This improvement will enable scientists to probe heavier and more exotic particles, and potentially open up a “new realm of particle physics”.
After several years of intense speculation on the existence of the Higgs Boson, one area likely to garner attention is the hunt for dark matter – a substance which makes up about a quarter of the universe.

For comparison “normal” matter, or the stuff of which we are made, accounts for less than five per cent.

Dark matter acts as a “cosmic glue” which gives the universe its structure, and is responsible for forming galaxies and holding them together.
======================================================================
Related Articles
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==================================================================
But it has never been glimpsed before and its existence can only be inferred because it exerts a slight gravitational pull on other particles.
Physicists hope that by smashing particles together at greater powers after the LHC reopens in 2015, they can mimic the conditions of the Big Bang and create small amounts of man-made dark matter.

Dr Alan Barr, of the LHC’s Atlas experiment, explained: “If we could produce our own in the lab we would be able to study it and learn what it is made of, where it comes from and how it is related to normal matter.
“That would also allow us to understand much more about what is the dominant form of matter in the Universe.”

The LHC’s upgrade involves replacing 10,000 connections and some of the magnets which guide particles around the 27km accelerator, installing 5,000 new insulation systems and testing tens of thousands of parts.
Some of the work involves repairing damage which occurred shortly after the collider was first switched on in 2008 because the connections could not cope with the electrical current passing through them.

It remains to be seen whether the alterations will be enough to generate dark matter, or whether a discovery will have to wait until after the next planned upgrade in 2020, but scientists are optimistic that it will pave the way for “new physics”.

Dr Pippa Wells, also of Atlas, told the BBC: “People are absolutely fired up. They’ve made one new discovery (the Higgs) and they want to make more discoveries with the new high energies that the upgrade will give us. We could find a new realm of particle physics.”

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Longer the better after all, in Australia at least

Penis size a factor in male attraction, Proceedings article states

At least in Down Under, what’s down under matters

Height, broad shoulders much more important, though

Penis size indicated by Condoleezza_RiceThe Daily Telegraph brought our attention to this vital result, relaible enough to earn a place in the Proceedings of the National Academy: penis size matters after all:

Size does matter, study finds

Size does matter, study finds
Size really does matter, according to a study which found that a man’s attractiveness is at least in part determined by what he carries in his trousers.

By Nick Collins, Science Correspondent9:00PM BST 08 Apr 2013Comments
Women who were shown various computer-generated images of naked men consistently rated those with larger members as being most attractive.
While various studies have shown that taller men are generally considered more attractive, researchers found that penis length was as important as height in determining a man’s sex appeal.
Perhaps worryingly for some men, there was no point at which increasing length and width started to lose their appeal, with results suggesting the “ideal size” – if it exists – must be larger than any of the 343 figures used in the study.
Penis length had a particularly strong bearing on the attractiveness of taller men, possibly because their height might produce an unfavourable “size contrast effect”, and appeared to be especially important to larger women, researchers said.
The importance of being well endowed did dwindle after a flaccid length of three inches (7.6cm), however, which is below average according to a separate study of 3,300 Italian men.
Related Articles
British men are better endowed than the French 30 Sep 2012
Long and short of it is size does not matter 01 Jun 2007
Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, the Australian researchers said their findings suggest that the choices of women may have caused men to develop larger penises during human evolution.
Women’s inclination towards men with a larger manhood could be down to enjoying greater pleasure during previous sexual liaisons, or may be an “aesthetic preference”, they wrote.
The study found that being tall and particularly having broad shoulders relative to the hips also played a significant role in men’s attractiveness.
Although the factors are tied to one another the shoulder-to-hip ratio explained about 80 per cent of variability in men’s attractiveness in the study, while height accounted for 6 per cent and penis size for 5 per cent.
The researchers, said their results “directly contradict claims that penis size is unimportant to most females”.
Dr Brian Mautz of the Australian National University, Canberra, said: “We found flaccid penis size had a significant influence on male attractiveness. Males with a larger penis were rated as being relatively more attractive.
“Our results show female mate choice could have played a role in the evolution of the relatively large human male penis.”

But apparently broad shoulders and height are a lot more important to Aussie women, who are as sensible in this respect as we have always imagined.

Kudos to the Daily Telegraph for noting this important result – and for the choice of photo.

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How Pets Relax Petters

Science establishes that dogs help at work

Is this an index of human level of insanity?

Relax and stay on top of your work with Fido’s help

It’s been known for some time that dogs can reduce levels of stress and anxiety in humans who stroke them, but society has been slow to apply the knowledge. Perhaps now steps will be taken across America and the world to stop eating our four footed brothers (pigs, cows) and incorporate them (dogs) into our working lives.

Dogs could lower stress at work

Bringing your dog to the office could lower your stress levels and improve morale among your fellow employees, a study suggests.

Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University studied 75 people at a manufacturing company where each day for a trial week 20 to 30 people were allowed to bring their dogs to work.

Although bringing a pet to work could come with practical difficulties, a trial at an American company suggested it improved people’s job satisfaction.

Dog owners also reported that it reduced their feelings of stress, which previous studies suggest can lead to higher rates of absence and lower productivity.

Using samples of saliva taken throughout the day they compared levels of stress hormones among people who brought in their pets, people who owned dogs but left them at home, and staff who did not have pets.

First thing in the morning there was no difference between the groups, but during the day stress levels declined among people who had their dogs by their side and increased among the other two groups.

Having dogs in the workplace appeared to improve morale among all members of staff, regardless of whether their pets were present, the researchers reported in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management.
Randolph Barker, who led the study, said: “The differences in perceived stress between days the dog was present and absent were significant. The employees as a whole had higher job satisfaction than industry norms.”

UPDATE:

Feeling stressed? Harvard Medical School now has dogs on site that students can borrow like books to help them relax.

The secret to exam success: puppy love

Students at a Scottish university have begun “puppy patting” sessions in an effort to improve their exam grades.

Undergraduates at Aberdeen University will be able to avoid the pressures of study in a special “puppy room”.

The sessions, part of the exam welfare initiative by the university’s students’ association, will be held over four days next month.

Emma Carlen, the university’s president of societies and student activities, said a trial run in February with golden retrievers and labradors was a success.

“We got a really positive reaction to that from the guide dogs and the students,” she said. “It really chilled them out, so that encouraged us to get this set up for the exam period.”

The puppy programme is thought to have originated in American and Canadian universities. Top universities such as Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School have dogs on site that students can borrow like books.

Miss Carlen said the sessions helped students to relax in the most stressful period of their academic year. She said it would help push up grades.

She said: “Hopefully we can boost their health and grades. We also hand out advice on what to eat and drink.”

Studies have shown that interaction with pets can reduce levels of cortisol – a hormone associated with stress – and releases endorphins.

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When They Planned to Nuke The Moon

The Russian plan for a Moon base announced in May contrasts in an ironic way with the other extreme that once was a special project buried in the plans of the US military – to blow up a nuclear bomb on the moon, just to show the Soviets who was boss.

The project was known by the code name Project A119 and represents the Dr Strangelove extreme of strategic planning by the fantasists who led US policy in the late 1950s, or rather, those inside the US Air Force who presumably were partly motivated by service rivalry. The trigger seems to have been the early lead that the Soviet Union took in the space race with the Sputnik 1 launch on October 4, 1957..

Carl Sagan a graduate student at the time is said to have helped cork the project by pointing out how it would destabilize the planetary system with dust and gas. Apparently there was also fears that the missile might miss the target and come back to explode on Earth, or if the atom bomb did explode on target, would contaminate the moon with radioactivity.

Revealed: How the U.S. planned to blow up the MOON with a nuclear bomb to win Cold War bragging rights over Soviet Union

[spoiler title=”Hit the mark for the text of the article” open=”0″ style=”1″]Scientists were hoping for giant flash on the moon that would intimidate the Soviet Union
Aim of mission was to launch the nuke by 1959
Plan was later scrapped due to possible danger to people on Earth
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER and ASSOCIATED PRESS
PUBLISHED: 14:06 EST, 25 November 2012 | UPDATED: 17:37 EST, 25 November 2012
Comments (413)
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It may sound like a plot straight out of a science fiction novel, but a U.S. mission to blow up the moon with a nuke was very real in the 1950s.
At the height of the space race, the U.S. considered detonating an atom bomb on the moon as a display of America’s Cold War muscle.
The secret project, innocuously titled ‘A Study of Lunar Research Flights’ and nicknamed ‘Project A119,’ was never carried out.
However, its planning included calculations by astronomer Carl Sagan, then a young graduate student, of the behavior of dust and gas generated by the blast.
Viewing the nuclear flash from Earth might have intimidated the Soviet Union and boosted U.S. confidence after the launch of Sputnik, physicist Leonard Reiffel told the AP in a 2000 interview.
Reiffel, now 85, directed the inquiry at the former Armour Research Foundation, now part of the Illinois Institute of Technology. He later served as a deputy director at NASA.
Sagan, who later became renowned for popularizing science on television, died in 1996.
The author of one of Sagan’s biographies suggested that he may have committed a security breach in 1959 after revealing the classified project in an academic fellowship application. Reiffel concurred.
Under the scenario, a missile carrying a small nuclear device was to be launched from an undisclosed location and travel 238,000 miles to the moon, where it would be detonated upon impact.
The planners decided it would have to be an atom bomb because a hydrogen bomb would have been too heavy for the missile.
Reiffel said the nation’s young space program probably could have carried out the mission by 1959, when the Air Force deployed inter-continental ballistic missiles.
Military officials apparently abandoned the idea because of the danger to people on Earth in case the mission failed.
The scientists also registered concerns about contaminating the moon with radioactive material, Reiffel said.
When contacted by the AP, the U.S. Air Force declined to comment on the project.[/spoiler]

Project A119 was cancelled in 1959 and first revealed in 2000. This week it filled the news but we have still to find out why.

Meanwhile we have Neil Tyson’s poster pointing out how distorted the allocation of Federal funds is toward overarming the military and starving space research.

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Tesla Gets His Due At Last – His Museum Being Crowdfunded

Cartoonist Matt Inman Writes Hilarious Defense of Tesla vs Edison, Takes Up Cause on Indiegogo.

Wardenclyffe Will Be Rebuilt, Maybe Even Tower

NYObserver’s Kelly Faircloth reports on p A16 Sept 24 “Tesla Gets Current”

Over $1.2 million raised to date, according to Time Magazine today. But the fine piece is Faircloth’s in the Observer :

New Generation of Fans Look To Fund Museum In Electricity Piomeer’s Ramshackle Laboratory

The AC is on; neglected inventor gets a crowdfunded Internet rennaissance

For all the modern-day desire to emulate Steve Jobs, the heroic nerd isn’t a new American trope. As long ago as the Gilded Age, scientist Nikola Tesla was a celebrity. He lived at the Waldorf Astoria and was close friends with Mark Twain.

But he was neither entertainer nor robber baron. Rather, as the inventor of an effective alternating current system of power generation, he’d helped usher in a new, electrified era. His ambitious visions of the future (and complete lack of a filter) made great copy, meaning newspaper reporters were always eager to put him in print.

In 1901, at the height of his fame, Tesla built a laboratory in the rural farmland of Shoreham, Long Island. Dubbed Wardenclyffe, the facility was designed by Stanford White and meant to be the site of his greatest achievement yet: Intercontinental transmission of wireless radio signals. But it wasn’t to be. “Wardenclyffe was a landmark as magnificent in concept and execution as America’s Golden Age of electrical engineering ever produced,” writes Margaret Cheney in her 1981 biography Tesla: Man Out of Time—“magnificent and doomed.”

Today, raccoons roam the graffiti-covered interior, which has been gradually stripped of all valuable piping and wiring. The soaring interior has been subdivided into warren-like enclosures, arched windows boarded over. The tower that formerly loomed overhead is long gone. Until very recently, it was a Superfund site, polluted with silver and cadmium.

While Marconi made it into the history books for his wireless innovations, and Edison is remembered as the great inventor of the lightbulb and popularizer of electricity, Tesla fell out of favor. By 1916, he was bankrupt. (That made the papers, too.) He died at the New Yorker Hotel in January 1943, reportedly with only a snow-white pigeon as a companion. For ages, he was remembered largely as a Doctor Strange-like figure, lurking in the shadows of scientific respectability.

For 17 years, a retired teacher named Jane Alcorn has been trying to turn this moldering near-ruin into a science museum. She even organized a nonprofit and extracted the promise of an $850,000 matching grant from the state of New York, but couldn’t quite scrape together the $1.6 million required to buy the property. But now the internet, that hive of fandoms, has spawned a new generation of enthusiasts ready to right the wrong of Tesla’s neglect. A fund-raising campaign on Indiegogo, spearheaded by Matthew Inman, creator of the popular web comic The Oatmeal, drew more than 30,000 donations, and the Tesla Science Center now has $1.25 million and counting in cash to go toward the effort.

Born in 1856, an ethnic Serb in what’s now Croatia, Tesla cobbled together an advanced education in engineering despite limited financial resources and struck out for America in 1884. Upon arrival, he proceeded, letter of introduction in hand, to the early R&D shop run by Thomas Edison.

The understaffed Edison hired Tesla on the spot, but the relationship soon soured: the American supposedly promised his hardworking employee a substantial bonus to redesign the company’s energy-generating dynamos, but when Tesla went to collect his prize, Edison reneged.

The tale is a nice setup for the “War of Currents” that followed. As America embraced electricity, two technologies wrestled for dominance: Edison’s direct current system, which was first to market, and Tesla’s more efficient alternating current system, commercialized by competitor Westinghouse Electric. The latter would emerge victorious, despite downright slanderous attempts by Edison to brand it as dangerous, including using AC to electrocute the Luna Park Zoo’s troublesome elephant Topsy, on Coney Island.

To free up capital for the battle, Tesla released Westinghouse from a lucrative contract for the use of his patents—a step that would contribute greatly to his later poverty.

But by 1901, he’d had already moved on to bigger, wilder ideas. At Wardenclyffe, he hoped to establish a facility for wireless communications on a transcontinental scale—hence the enormous tower that loomed over the building. (In the end, Marconi would get much of the glory, though by building on Tesla’s patents.) Perhaps even more ambitious were his ideas for the wireless transmission of power, a technology that’s only just now, a century later, creeping into the marketplace.

[spoiler title=”Click for rest of long and smart Observer Article by Kelly Faircloth” open=”0″ style=”1″]

However, it was something more mundane that brought down Wardenclyffe: cash flow problems. Even if the science had worked—and the Gilded Age had seen enough marvels that it might have seemed doable—Tesla’s primary investor, J.P. Morgan, didn’t become one of the wealthiest men in America by giving things away. The money dried up, and the project failed. The property was repossessed; the tower was knocked down (though the concrete and granite foundation remains). The building and land were sold to film manufacturer Peerless Photo, later acquired by the Belgian multinational Agfa Graphics, which owns the property today.

But Tesla wasn’t completely forgotten. Many a curious autodidact would stumble onto the man’s legacy. Marc Seifer, author of the Tesla biography Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla, described discovering Tesla in the 1970s, while researching another man: “I said to myself, ‘This is ridiculous. If someone had invented all this stuff, I would’ve heard his name before,’” he remembered to The Observer.

Jane Alcorn, however, didn’t set out to rescue Tesla from obscurity. Rather, she simply wanted to find a new home for the small science museum housed in the local high school.

“I had been aware of a Tesla’s laboratory in a very peripheral way,” she explained. She knew Wardenclyffe, which was already empty, had originally been home to a scientist, but she didn’t know much about him. “Maybe that would be nice—to have a science museum in a scientist’s laboratory,” she thought.

In the meantime, more enthusiasts were emerging. The scientist appeared as a minor but pivotal character in the 2006 fantasy movie The Prestige, portrayed by a grave-faced David Bowie. A fictionalized version of his Houston Street lab (which burned down sometime in the late 1800s) appeared in the 2010 Nicholas Cage movie The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

So as Ms. Alcorn worked toward securing the site, visitors from Japan, Istanbul, Europe and elsewhere would call her up and ask to have someone meet them outside Wardenclyffe, in hopes of learning new details. “This has been in the past—and will continue to be—almost a site of pilgrimage,” said Ms. Alcorn.

That’s where Matthew Inman came in, alerting his hundreds of thousands of fans to the cause. Suddenly it was less a dry matter of historical preservation than a mission to do right by an unjustly forgotten underdog.

Mr. Inman first became aware of Nikola Tesla from a site called Badass of the Week and was struck by that typical disbelief that he didn’t already know about the man. “As I was reading the article I was kind of thinking, ‘Oh wow, that’s really impressive. Oh wow, he did—oh my God, holy shit, he did all of those things?’”

Impressed, Mr. Inman wrote a comic that was included in his first book, 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides). But it wasn’t until he began selling T-shirts that read “Tesla >Edison” that he realized the depth of devotion to this supposedly forgotten hero. “These things just started selling like crazy,” he explained. That’s when he decided to completely rewrite the original comic and turn it into a paean.

Mr. Inman knew he didn’t have the technical background to do justice to Mr. Tesla’s feats of engineering. Instead, he decided to focus on “the spirit of what he did, in terms of—the guy was a huge nerd,” he said.

The final product: “Why Nikola Tesla Is the Greatest Geek Who Ever Lived.” Within a week, the comic had over 500,000 Facebook likes, and Mr. Inman found himself the unofficial king of internet Tesla fandom. When he heard about the fundraising attempts, he stepped forward, offering up his hordes of eager Oatmeal readers. It took just days for the campaign to blow past its goal of $850,000. The project will require millions more in donations before the museum opens its doors, but such a day suddenly looks possible.

For years Mr. Inman has referred to him as an unsung hero, but between the funds raised and the press attention, “I almost feel like the dude is pretty well sung at this point,” he admitted.

The question is, why now? One plank of Ms. Alcorn’s plan for the site hints at the currents propelling this renaissance: Besides classrooms and interactive exhibits, she’d like to include a hacker space. “If you had an invention in mind but you didn’t have a place to create your prototype, and you didn’t have the equipment, machinery or space to work on it, we could have a space with equipment you might not have at home that you could use to create your prototype.”

Between his world-altering ambitions and his loner image, Nikola Tesla engages our infatuation with innovators and entrepreneurs. We’re in a cultural moment when shirtless photos of Mark Zuckerberg pop up on TMZ, even as he extols the “hacker way” in SEC filings, and Google cofounder Sergey Brin appears at Fashion Week wearing Google Glasses. Everyone has his own idea for an earth-shattering tech startup.

And Tesla is the perfect embodiment of the ever-optimistic idealist, holding fast to his disruptive convictions. “Even when everything was against him and he was broke, even when he was a little old man in his 80s, he was always working on something,” explained playwright Jeffrey Stanley, author of the semi-autobiographical Tesla’s Letters, which premiered Off Broadway in 1999.

That goes a long way toward explaining his popularity with the tech crowd: Google cofounder Larry Page likes to cite him as an inspiration; Paypal founder Elon Musk, in what looks like a self-aware admission of his own grand ambitions, named his electric car startup Tesla Motors.

Edison, on the other hand, represents a corporate approach that lacks the cultural cachet it once held. In fact, according to Leonard DeGraaf, an archivist at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in New Jersey, Edison’s greatest legacy may be that he made inventors seem like a solid bet. “He makes invention safe for people to invest in, as an activity that they can throw money at,” because he proved he could deliver, Mr. DeGraaf explained. A valuable contribution to the history of American business—but one that, fair or no, reeks of mass-production in an era that fetishizes the creative and the artisanal. Besides, it’s so much sexier to take a chance on Space X, Mr. Musk’s great hope for colonizing Mars, than to invest in a practical, revenue-generating snoozefest like Paypal.

That said, the bigger bets are a lot more likely to leave you alone in the end, with just pigeons for company.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com

[/spoiler]

Typically well written Observer contribution.

Here is a plea for funds at GOOD:

Let’s Do This – Get Nikola Tesla a Museum:

Here at GOOD, we’ve long had a crush on Nikola Tesla. We published a heartfelt ode to him in the energy issue of our print magazine. We also produced this infographic distilling the epic smackdown between Tesla and his early employer and bitter rival Thomas Edison (who once electrocuted an elephant to prove the “dangers” of Tesla’s alternating current). Alternating current, of course, is now what powers our residences and businesses through the commercial grid.

This eccentric Croatian genius has never gotten his deserved place in the history books. Sure there’s the Tesla Coils that wow crowds at Coachella and Elon Musk’s electic hot rod, but for the most part, Tesla is a side note. The dude behind the webcomic The Oatmeal wants to change that and we’re on board one hundred percent. It seems that Tesla’s old lab in New York, the Wardenclyffe Tower, is up for sale and a nonprofit dedicated to preserving Tesla’s legacy needs to outbid a retail developer to secure the property.

Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal launched an indiegogo campaign (“Let’s Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum”) Wednesday to raise $850,000 towards a New York State matching grant. He explained to WIRED why:

Tesla is a hero of mine, and very rarely does an opportunity present itself where you can make a difference to your hero’s legacy nearly a century after his time. It’d be like starting a crowdfunding campaign to keep Abraham Lincoln’s original home from getting bulldozed and turned into a Krispy Kreme. I’d be all over Operation Make-Lincoln-Not-Doughnuts.

So, GOOD community, let’s do this. After all, the guy responsible for radar, neon, fluorescent lighting, remote control, and arguably robotics, deserves a goddamn museum.

Damn right. About time Tesla got his due, and the truth came out about Edison, whatever it is.

Buy this T shirt at The Oatmeal:

Matt Inman’s Lovely Page on Tesla

The best write up of all on Tesla has to be the page Inman wrote at Oatmeal which triggered all this fervor. It points out the amazing list of inventing feats Tesla accomplished and condemns Edison as little more than a CEO “douchebag” who thieved Tesla’s help early on by not paying him the promised bonus for improving his dynamo motor, and actually invented very little himself, his invention of the light bulb little more than perfecting the ideas of 22 others:

Why Nikola Tesla was the Greatest Geek That Ever Lived

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Oops! Earth Cooled Over Last 2000 Years, Tree Rings Show

Pantywaist Lefties Get Short Shrift at Daily Mail

Even if so, how about last 100 years of industrial revolution?

But there’s hope yet!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2171973/Tree-ring-study-proves-climate-WARMER-Roman-Medieval-times-modern-industrial-age.html

Tree-rings prove climate was WARMER in Roman and Medieval times than it is now – and world has been cooling for 2,000 years
Study of semi-fossilised trees gives accurate climate reading back to 138BC
World was warmer in Roman and Medieval times than it is now
By SCIENCE REPORTER
PUBLISHED: 07:22 EST, 11 July 2012 | UPDATED: 17:51 EST, 11 July 2012
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Rings in fossilised pine trees have proven that the world was much warmer than previously thought – with measurements dating back to 138BC
How did the Romans grow grapes in northern England? Perhaps because it was warmer than we thought.
A study suggests the Britain of 2,000 years ago experienced a lengthy period of hotter summers than today.
German researchers used data from tree rings – a key indicator of past climate – to claim the world has been on a ‘long-term cooling trend’ for two millennia until the global warming of the twentieth century.
This cooling was punctuated by a couple of warm spells.
These are the Medieval Warm Period, which is well known, but also a period during the toga-wearing Roman times when temperatures were apparently 1 deg C warmer than now.
They say the very warm period during the years 21 to 50AD has been underestimated by climate scientists.
Lead author Professor Dr Jan Esper of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz said: ‘We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low.
‘This figure we calculated may not seem particularly significant, however it is not negligible when compared to global warming, which up to now has been less than 1 deg C.’
In general the scientists found a slow cooling of 0.6C over 2,000 years, which they attributed to changes in the Earth’s orbit which took it further away from the Sun.
The study is published in Nature Climate Change.
It is based on measurements stretching back to 138BC.
The finding may force scientists to rethink current theories of the impact of global warming
Professor Esper’s group at the Institute of Geography at JGU used tree-ring density measurements from sub-fossil pine trees originating from Finnish Lapland to produce a reconstruction reaching back to 138 BC.
In so doing, the researchers have been able for the first time to precisely demonstrate that the long-term trend over the past two millennia has been towards climatic cooling.

More…
Is the ‘God particle’ an impostor? Scientists claim signal found in Large Hadron Collider may not be Higgs after all
A cosmic discovery: Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope find fifth moon orbiting Pluto
Is America allergic to global warming? ‘Denialism’ gap grows climate change splits voters down party lines
Women are at greater risk from global warming than men, claims MEP in ‘bonkers’ EU row
Professor Esper said: ‘Such findings are also significant with regard to climate policy, as they will influence the way today’s climate changes are seen in context of historical warm periods.’
The annual growth rings in trees are the most important witnesses over the past 1,000 to 2,000 years as they indicate how warm and cool past climate conditions were.
Researchers from Germany, Finland, Scotland, and Switzerland examined tree-ring density profiles.
In the cold environment of Finnish Lapland, trees often collapse into one of the numerous lakes, where they remain well preserved for thousands of years.

Global cooling: It is the first time that researchers have been able to accurately measure trends in global temperature over the last two millennia

The annual growth rings in trees are the most important witnesses over the past 1,000 to 2,000 years as they indicate how warm and cool past climate conditions were
The density measurements correlate closely with the summer temperatures in this area on the edge of the Nordic taiga; the researchers were thus able to create a temperature reconstruction of unprecedented quality.
The reconstruction provides a high-resolution representation of temperature patterns in the Roman and Medieval Warm periods, but also shows the cold phases that occurred during the Migration Period and the later Little Ice Age.
In addition to the cold and warm phases, the new climate curve also exhibits a phenomenon that was not expected in this form.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2171973/Tree-ring-study-proves-climate-WARMER-Roman-Medieval-times-modern-industrial-age.html#ixzz26vVaeRud
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Higgs A Mirage? Some Scientists Say So

The Daily Mail records that some scientists think the Higgs is still a fantasy:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2171611/Is-God-particle-impostor-Scientists-claim-signal-Large-Hadron-Collider-Higgs-all.html

Is the ‘God particle’ an impostor? Scientists claim signal found in Large Hadron Collider may not be Higgs after all
‘Uncertainty’ over signal detected at CERN
Particle could instead be ‘impostor’, claim Cornell scientists
CERN scientists to analyse data further
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
PUBLISHED: 12:24 EST, 10 July 2012 | UPDATED: 02:08 EST, 11 July 2012
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In a paper published this week, Ian Low, Joseph Lykken and Gabe Shaughnessy of Cornell have cast doubt on what exactly was detected within the Hadron Collider
Signals detected from the Large Hadron Collider were hailed as conclusive proof that the ‘God particle’ – the Higgs boson – had been found after a quest spanning nearly five decades.
A week after the discovery of a particle, believed to be the elusive particle, scientists at Cornell University have said they are not so sure.
In a paper published this week, Ian Low, Joseph Lykken and Gabe Shaughnessy of Cornell have cast doubt on what exactly was detected within the Hadron Collider.
‘The new resonance discovered by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the CERN
Large Hadron Collider (LHC) could be the long-sought Higgs boson of the Standard Model,’ say the scientists.
But the researchers point out that it’s far from certain that the particle is the ‘standard model Higgs’ which scientists have sought for decades to fill in the ‘gaps’ in the model of physics we currently use to explain the universe.
‘We show that current LHC data already strongly disfavor both the dilatonic and non-dilatonic singlet imposters.
‘On the other hand, a generic Higgs doublet and a triplet imposter give equally good fits to the measured event rates of the newly observed scalar resonance.’
The researchers advise caution – and say that ‘currently the uncertainties in these quantities are too large’ to make a definitive statement.
Scientists at CERN are also analysing the data further to see if their discovery corresponds to the ‘standard model’ Higgs boson – or to something more mysterious.
One of the reasons for the caution at Cern is that while the new particle has so far behaved liked the elusive Higgs boson it is lighter than expected.

More…
Satellite study of Asian mountains show that glaciers are NOT melting – and some are actually gaining new ice
This opens up the possibility of there being more than one Higgs boson and could lead to a new understanding of dark matter, the mysterious substance thought to make up a quarter of the universe.
Professor Higgs, 83, wiped a tear from his eye as the findings were announced, and later said: ‘It’s really an incredible thing that it’s happened in my lifetime.’
Professor Tejinder Virdee, of Imperial College London, who helped lead one of the two teams of scientists behind the discovery, said: ‘This breaks the way to looking at a new vista in physics. It is a very exciting moment.’

Inside: The giant project is the most enormous piece of scientific apparatus ever constructed, and is buried 100m beneath the ground

Professor Peter Higgs appeared to wipe away a tear after scientists at the Large Hadron Collider claimed to have discovered a particle believed to be the Higgs boson.

The Higgs boson’s role is to give the particles that make up atoms their mass. Without this mass, they would zip around the cosmos, unable to bind together to form the atoms that make stars and planets – and people.
Despite its fabled properties, the particle has eluded previous searches and not all scientists believed in its existence.
To try to pin it down, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva smashed together beams of protons – the ‘hearts of atoms’ – at close to the speed of light, recreating conditions that existed a fraction of a second after the Big Bang.
Theory has it that as the universe cooled after the Big Bang, an invisible force known as the Higgs field formed.
This field permeates the cosmos and is made up of countless numbers of tiny particles – or Higgs bosons.As other particles pass through it, they pick up mass.
In December last year scientists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – the ‘Big Bang’ particle accelerator which recreates conditions a billionth of a second after the birth of the universe – revealed they had caught a first tantalising glimpse of the Higgs.
Since then they have sifted through vast quantities of data from innumerable high energy collisions in an effort to reduce the odds of being wrong.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2171611/Is-God-particle-impostor-Scientists-claim-signal-Large-Hadron-Collider-Higgs-all.html#ixzz26vSXAAng
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COMMENTS are good:

– Higgs Boson , Reisterstown, United States, 10/9/2012 22:54
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Baptists, Methodists, Scientists, Anglican/Episcopalians,…
A few days ago it was only one chance in billions that they had not discovered the Higgs particle. Now it appears the odds are down to around 50/50. This is like global warning science.
– Joseph Dewey , Boise, ID USA, 12/7/2012 19:12
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I wonder if science is even possible when huge sums of money are involved. Money tends to obfuscate truth.
– Rafael Espericueta , Bakersfield, California, 12/7/2012 16:09
Click to rate Rating 17 Report abuse
What they’ve found is a False God particle.
– Huskred , Ottawa Canada, 12/7/2012 16:01
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Don’t forget those (equally well trained/intelligent) scientists who aren’t religious adherents of the Standard Model and don’t believe in the existence of the Higgs. Nor all those pushed out of a science career due to lack of funding (much of the science budget goes to CERN and the dominant group’s way of thinking). Would smashing up a watch, and watching how the pieces fly off, tell you how it kept perfect timing?
– I Can See , LDN, 12/7/2012 11:28
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” science ” , more like sciencetism
– patrick , bedford, 11/7/2012 21:34
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Well, if it isn’t the Higgs Boson, then what is it? More research is required. If it is found that the mass of the Higgs is wrong, it could lead to a rewrite of the Standard Model. Worse; there are theories that state quantum physics is wrong – that we’ve been barking up the wrong tree. Who knows? It certainly makes me curious :)
– Greg , Lexington, OH, USA, 11/7/2012 20:50
Click to rate Rating 5 Report abuse
It’s Mrs Higgs, wife to the Higgs Boson, the search for Mr Higgs is on. The child Higgs Boson Jnr will be born from the union of Mrs Higgs and Mr Higgs.
– Snowybear , UK, 11/7/2012 18:40
Click to rate Rating 2 Report abuse
I thought as much when the news was released but it’s a very brave man who can stand against the tide and point to the Emperor’s new clothes. I suspect the ‘discovery’ at CERN was, as it’s presenter declared, ‘well timed’ purely because their funding was due to run out. I’m a wave theorist and believe this embarrassing mistake will prove to be the largest scientific human failure in history, along with that hideous ‘Standard Model’.
– Ralph , Farnham, Surrey, 11/7/2012 16:41
Click to rate Rating 31 Report abuse

CANNOT GET THE REST OF THE COMMENTS IT SEEMS

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Climate Models Good At Long Term Prediction

University of Arizona finds They Predict Far Future Well

But Cannot handle Periods shorter than 30 Years Well

Finally someone actually took a look at how well climate models work in hindcasting and found that they work fine in the long term but they cant handle stretches less than thirty years.

In other words, just because the temperature might be cooling now in the short term, this doesn’t let us off the hook for the next fifty, is that right?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

Sept. 18, 2012

This story and photos are online at: http://uanews.org/story/ua-climate-scientists-put-predictions-test .

Contact information follows this story.

UA Climate Scientists put Predictions to the Test

A new study has found that climate-prediction models are good at predicting long-term climate patterns on a global scale but lose their edge when applied to time frames shorter than three decades and on sub-continental scales.

Climate-prediction models show skills in forecasting climate trends over time spans of greater than 30 years and at the geographical scale of continents, but they deteriorate when applied to shorter time frames and smaller geographical regions, a new study has found.
Published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, the study is one of the first to systematically address a longstanding, fundamental question asked not only by climate scientists and weather forecasters, but the public as well: How good are Earth system models at predicting the surface air temperature trend at different geographical and time scales?

Xubin Zeng, a professor in the University of Arizona department of atmospheric sciences who leads a research group evaluating and developing climate models, said the goal of the study was to bridge the communities of climate scientists and weather forecasters, who sometimes disagree with respect to climate change.

According to Zeng, who directs the UA Climate Dynamics and Hydrometeorology Center, the weather forecasting community has demonstrated skill and progress in predicting the weather up to about two weeks into the future, whereas the track record has remained less clear in the climate science community tasked with identifying long-term trends for the global climate.

“Without such a track record, how can the community trust the climate projections we make for the future?” said Zeng, who serves on the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate of the National Academies and the Executive Committee of the American Meteorological Society. “Our results show that actually both sides’ arguments are valid to a certain degree.”

“Climate scientists are correct because we do show that on the continental scale, and for time scales of three decades or more, climate models indeed show predictive skills. But when it comes to predicting the climate for a certain area over the next 10 or 20 years, our models can’t do it.”

To test how accurately various computer-based climate prediction models can turn data into predictions, Zeng’s group used the “hindcast” approach.

“Ideally, you would use the models to make predictions now, and then come back in say, 40 years and see how the predictions compare to the actual climate at that time,” said Zeng. “But obviously we can’t wait that long. Policymakers need information to make decisions now, which in turn will affect the climate 40 years from now.”

Zeng’s group evaluated seven computer simulation models used to compile the reports that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, issues every six years. The researchers fed them historical climate records and compared their results to the actual climate change observed between then and now.

“We wanted to know at what scales are the climate models the IPCC uses reliable,” said Koichi Sakaguchi, a doctoral student in Zeng’s group who led the study. “These models considered the interactions between the Earth’s surface and atmosphere in both hemispheres, across all continents and oceans and how they are coupled.”

Zeng said the study should help the community establish a track record whose accuracy in predicting future climate trends can be assessed as more comprehensive climate data become available.

“Our goal was to provide climate modeling centers across the world with a baseline they can use every year as they go forward,” Zeng added. “It is important to keep in mind that we talk about climate hindcast starting from 1880. Today, we have much more observational data. If you start your prediction from today for the next 30 years, you might have a higher prediction skill, even though that hasn’t been proven yet.”

The skill of a climate model depends on three criteria at a minimum, Zeng explained. The model has to use reliable data, its prediction must be better than a prediction based on chance, and its prediction must be closer to reality than a prediction that only considers the internal climate variability of the Earth system and ignores processes such as variations in solar activity, volcanic eruptions, greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and land-use change, for example urbanization and deforestation.

“If a model doesn’t meet those three criteria, it can still predict something but it cannot claim to have skill,” Zeng said.

According to Zeng, global temperatures have increased in the past century by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 0.8 degrees Celsius on average. Barring any efforts to curb global warming from greenhouse gas emissions, the temperatures could further increase by about 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.5 degrees Celsius) or more by the end of the 21st century based on these climate models.

“The scientific community is pushing policymakers to avoid the increase of temperatures by more than 2 degrees Celsius because we feel that once this threshold is crossed, global warming could be damaging to many regions,” he said.

Zeng said that climate models represent the current understanding of the factors influencing climate, and then translate those factors into computer code and integrate their interactions into the future.

“The models include most of the things we know,” he explained, “such as wind, solar radiation, turbulence mixing in the atmosphere, clouds, precipitation and aerosols, which are tiny particles suspended in the air, surface moisture and ocean currents.”

Zeng described how the group did the analysis: “With any given model, we evaluated climate predictions from 1900 into the future – 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, 50 years. Then we did the same starting in 1901, then 1902 and so forth, and applied statistics to the results.”

Climate models divide the Earth into grid boxes whose size determines its spatial resolution. According to Zeng, state of the art is about one degree, equaling about 60 miles (100 kilometers).

“There has to be a simplification because if you look outside the window, you realize you don’t typically have a cloud cover that measures 60 miles by 60 miles. The models cannot reflect that kind of resolution. That’s why we have all those uncertainties in climate prediction.”

“Our analysis confirmed what we expected from last IPCC report in 2007,” said Sakaguchi. “Those climate models are believed to be of good skill on large scales, for example predicting temperature trends over several decades, and we confirmed that by showing that the models work well for time spans longer than 30 years and across geographical scales spanning 30 degrees or more.”

The scientists pointed out that although the IPCC issues a new report every six years, they didn’t see much change with regard to the prediction skill of the different models.

“The IPCC process is driven by international agreements and politics,” Zeng said. “But in science, we are not expected to make major progress in just six years. We have made a lot of progress in understanding certain processes, for example airborne dust and other small particles emitted from surface, either through human activity or through natural sources into the air. But climate and the Earth system still are extremely complex. Better understanding doesn’t necessarily translate into better skill in a short time.”

“Once you go into details, you realize that for some decades, models are doing a much better job than for some other decades. That is because our models are only as good as our understanding of the natural processes, and there is a lot we don’t understand.”

Michael Brunke, a graduate student in Zeng’s group who focused on ocean-atmosphere interactions, co-authored the study, which is titled “The Hindcast Skill of the CMIP Ensembles for the Surface Air Temperature Trend.”

Funding for this work was provided by NASA grant NNX09A021G, National Science Foundation grant AGS-0944101 and Department of Energy grant DE-SC0006773.

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Reasons for Being Vegetarian

http://www.think-differently-about-sheep.com/Sentience-%20In-Farm-Animals-%20Pigs.htm

http://www.facebook.com/pages/END-FACTORY-FARMING/173709716044251

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–LeOoohGrM

The really bad stuff:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=357550744326813&set=a.173844062697483.43715.173709716044251&type=1&theater

he key factor in breast cancer growth is a powerful growth hormone manufactured by the human body called IGF-I. That same hormone is manufactured within a cow’s body. By drinking cow’s milk, one delivers IGF-I in a bioactive form to the body’s cells.

Many scientific studies have shown an assortment of detrimental health effects directly linked to milk consumption. And the most surprising link is that not only do we barely absorb the calcium in cow’s milk, but it actually increases calcium loss from the bones. A 12 year long Harvard Nurses’ Health Study found that those who consumed the most calcium from dairy foods broke more bones than those who rarely drank milk. This is a broad study based on 77,761 women aged 34 through 59 years of age. According to Amy Lanou Ph.D., nutrition director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C.:

“The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are the ones where people drink the most milk and have the most calcium in their diets. The connection between calcium consumption and bone health is actually very weak, and the connection between dairy consumption and bone health is almost nonexistent.”

Nobody can dispute that cow’s milk is an excellent food source for calves. Weighing around 100 pounds at birth, a calf typically gains approximately eight times its weight by the time it is weaned. But unlike humans, once calves are weaned, they never drink milk again. And the same applies to every mammalian species on this planet. Also, each mammalian species has its own “designer” milk, and cow’s milk is no exception. For example, cow’s milk contains on average three times the amount of protein than human milk which creates metabolic disturbances in humans that have detrimental bone health consequences. Mother’s milk is excellent nourishment for human babies, but its composition is very different from cow’s milk.

Alternatives are almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, oat milk, and hemp milk.

http://www.notmilk.com/
— with Lorraine Battersby and Angie V Heringer.

Ethically Opposed to Veal? Then Dump Dairy

“No one with a conscience would eat the bodies of calves who spend their short lives in misery. Cows are individuals with distinct personalities. Some are bold and adventurous; others are shy and timid. Some are friendly and considerate; others are bossy and obstinate. Animal behaviourists have found that cows interact in socially complex ways, developing friendships over time and sometimes holding grudges against other cows who treat them badly. Cows have been known to go to extraordinary lengths to escape from abattoirs.

Cows are also protective and nurturing mothers. Yet in the dairy industry, whether she gives birth to a male or a female, the time a mother cow will get to bond with and care for her baby is measured in hours. Female calves, like their mothers, face a lifetime of forced pregnancies and babies lost to the milk industry, and males – referred to as ‘by-products’ – are either shot at birth or destined to become veal.

Make no mistake: both mother cows and their calves are emotionally traumatised as would be any parent and child when forcibly separated from one another. The mother cows bellow in desperation, and the calves wail inconsolably. They cry out for each other for days. Wide-eyed and terrified, the babies are desperate to suckle and will attempt to suckle people’s fingers for comfort. What they get instead is a bottle of milk replacer.

Our most basic need as parents is to love, shelter, feed, nurture and protect our children from harm. And yet we ignore the very same innate need in animals. We are the only species to drink another species’ milk and the only species to continue to consume milk beyond infancy. Human children have no nutritional requirement for cow’s milk and grow up healthy and strong without it. Research suggests that cow’s milk is linked to numerous common health problems (runny noses, allergies, ear infections, recurrent bronchitis, asthma, etc.) that often keep kids out of school and parents home from work.

There are really unpleasant and unhealthy substances in milk, including growth hormones, saturated fat and cholesterol. It’s also acceptable under UK standards for milk to include pus. A safer and more natural choice for adults and children is to consume soya milk, almond milk or another plant-based alternative to cow’s milk. Parents who want to keep their children healthy should look behind the dairy industry’s well-financed marketing promotions.

World-renowned paediatrician Dr Benjamin Spock urged mothers to breastfeed. Dr Frank Oski, the former director of paediatrics at Johns Hopkins University in the US, said, “There’s no reason to drink cow’s milk at any time in your life. It was designed for calves, it was not designed for humans, and we should all stop drinking it today, this afternoon.”

Milk and veal go hand in hand – one does not exist without the other. If the thought of animal suffering bothers you, remember: you don’t have to support an industry that tears calves away from their mothers for milk or for veal.”
– Yvonne Taylor

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur. A new-born calf is removed from his mother to be placed in a veal cage. — with Joanna Hulbert, Rachel Molyneux, susan, Teddy Fowles and Ximena Vilches Castellano.

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Gina Kolata Peddling Oncogene Validity, Targeted Drugs

Study of Cancer’s Genetics Suggests a More Tailored Treatment Sept 10 NYT 2012 p A18 writes Gina “I love my best sources” Kolata

Is Gina misleading us by thoughtlessly buying into the oncogene mess?

Why does she say it fits with dogma when it seems to indicate cancer is disruption not mutation?

Interesting half page piece in the NYTimes Sept 10 Mon which is now on the web at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/10/health/research/for-a-lung-cancer-drug-treatment-may-be-within-reach.html (different title on line, Cancer Study Points to Tighter Pairing of Drugs and Patients)

As the picture of the scientist involved is captioned, Dr. Matthew Meyerson worked on a large study of squamous cell lung cancer. It found mutations that new drugs might target.

Kolata seems to include a couple of paragraphs gratuitously assuring us that the fact that mutated genes vary so much between patients with lung cancer that there doesn’t seem to be one common to them yet this is “in keeping with the genetic view of cancer”.!

Huh?
Kolata has training in molecular biology and applied mathematics so one would expect her to be a fairly reliable and accurate correspondent. Indeed, we have been assured by a reviewer at Publishers Weekly, she is the best in the business.

Who is Gina Kolata? This is her Times bio.

Her last book, Rethinking Thin, which is about How To Be Thin, Maybe (Its Mostly Genes, Stupid)

Anyhow the piece was published on September 9, 2012 on line where it garnered 124 Comments, a lot of them very wary of current practice in canecr treatment, noting it hasn’t won improved result for a very long time and certainly needs to be updated from slash, burn and poison.

But is it the responsibility of the New York Times to promote still unproven dogma in science? If not, where does the still fresh and perhaps too gullible Kolata get off by writing these two paragraphs in hr latest opus on September 10?:

The work became feasible only in the past few years because of enormous advances in DNA sequencing that allow researchers to scan all the DNA in a cell instead of looking at its 21,000 genes one at a time. The result has been a new comprehension of cancer as a genetic disease, defined by DNA alterations that drive a cancer cell’s growth, instead of a disease of a particular tissue or organ, like a breast, the prostate or a lung.

And, in keeping with the genetic view of cancer, no one mutation in this study of squamous cell lung cancer stood out — different patients had different mutations.

Is she a propagandist for oncogenes now?

Here is the piece:

Study of Lung Cancer’s Genetics Suggests a More Tailored Treatment

by Gina Kolata

The first large and comprehensive study of the genetics of a common lung cancer has found that more than half the tumors from that cancer have mutations that might be treated by new drugs that are already in the pipeline or that could be easily developed.

For the tens of thousands of Americans with that cancer — squamous cell lung cancer — the results are promising because they could foretell a new type of treatment in which drugs are tailored to match the genetic abnormality in each patient, researchers say.

“This is a disease where there are no targeted therapies,” said Dr. Matthew Meyerson of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, referring to modern drugs that attack genetic abnormalities. He is a lead author of a paper on the study, with more than 300 authors, which was published online in the journal Nature on Sunday.

“What we found will change the landscape for squamous cell carcinoma,” Dr. Meyerson said. “I think it gives hope to patients.”

The study is part of the Cancer Genome Atlas, a large project by the National Institutes of Health to examine genetic abnormalities in cancer. The study of squamous cell lung cancer is the second genetic analysis of a common cancer, coming on the heels of a study of colon cancer.

The work became feasible only in the past few years because of enormous advances in DNA sequencing that allow researchers to scan all the DNA in a cell instead of looking at its 21,000 genes one at a time. The result has been a new comprehension of cancer as a genetic disease, defined by DNA alterations that drive a cancer cell’s growth, instead of a disease of a particular tissue or organ, like a breast, the prostate or a lung.

And, in keeping with the genetic view of cancer, no one mutation in this study of squamous cell lung cancer stood out — different patients had different mutations.

As a result, the usual way of testing drugs by giving them to everyone with a particular type of cancer no longer makes sense. So researchers are planning a new type of testing program for squamous cell cancer that will match the major genetic abnormality in each patient with a drug designed to attack it, a harbinger of what many say will be the future of cancer research.

Squamous cell lung cancer kills about 50,000 Americans each year. That is more people than are killed in the nation by breast cancer, colon cancer or prostate cancer. Well over 90 percent of squamous cell cancer patients are or were smokers.

The new study compared tumor cells from 178 squamous cell lung cancer patients with the patients’ normal cells. More than 60 percent of the tumors had alterations in genes used to make enzymes that are particularly vulnerable to the new crop of cancer drugs. Many of the drugs are already available or are being tested on other cancers.

These enzymes function like on-off switches for cell growth, said Dr. Roy S. Herbst of Yale Cancer Center, who was not an author of the new study. When they are mutated, the switches are stuck in an on position. About a dozen companies, Dr. Herbst added, have drugs that block these mutated enzymes.

Yet even though the squamous cell cancers analyzed in the study often had mutations in genes for these enzymes, the genes and the mutations were different in different patients.

“Unfortunately, what the Cancer Genome Atlas has revealed is that everyone’s cancer could be very different,” said Dr. William Pao, a lung cancer researcher at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville and an author of the new paper. “The field is really moving toward personalized medicine.”

The study also found a real surprise, Dr. Meyerson said, something that had not previously been seen in any cancer. About 3 percent of the tumors had a gene mutation that might allow them to evade the immune system. By coincidence, an experimental drug that unleashes the immune system was recently tested in lung cancer patients. Some of those who did not respond might have the mutation, he said.

Now the challenge is to put the findings to clinical use.

First, researchers have to establish that the mutations in question actually are essential to the tumors’ growth, said Dr. Bruce Evan Johnson, a lung cancer researcher at Dana-Farber and an author of the new paper. There are several steps: show that if the mutated gene is added to normal cells, they turn into cancerous cells; show that if the mutated gene is added to mice, they develop squamous cell lung cancer; and show that if the gene is turned off — with a drug, for example — in cells grown in a laboratory, the cells die.

Then come drug tests in patients. But if only a small percentage of patients have each of the mutations, that poses a problem. Ordinarily a few medical centers would enroll patients with a particular type of cancer, like squamous cell. But if, instead, squamous cell patients are subdivided according to their gene mutations, there would be too few for a drug test within a single institution or even several.

So the plan is to cast a wider net. The major medical centers intend to form a consortium. In it, each center would direct one or more studies of one mutation and one drug that might home in on the specific mutation. So even though only a small percentage of squamous cell cancer patients would have that mutation, patients across the country could be in a clinical trial of a targeted drug. A patient’s own doctor could administer the drug, and the medical center directing the trial could analyze the data in partnership with the company that makes the drug.

That sort of system worked for another common type of lung cancer, adenocarcinoma, Dr. Johnson said, allowing researchers to test drugs that work for only 2 to 3 percent of patients.

And the work can move fast, he added. A Pfizer drug, crizotinib, which targets a rearranged gene in some adenocarcinomas, entered clinical trials in 2008 for lung cancers with the rearrangement. The results were reported in 2009 and were published in 2010. Crizotinib was approved in 2011 for patients with the gene rearrangement. The rearrangement is so rare that about 1,500 patients were tested to find 82 whose cancer had it. They were the ones included in the study.

For Pfizer, the experience was transformative.

“The old way of doing clinical trials where patients are only tied together by the organ where their cancer originated, those days are passing,” said Dr. Mace Rothenberg, senior vice president of Pfizer oncology.

Dr. Johnson, too, sees it as a wave of the future.

“That was the first time we really went after the genetic abnormality,” he said.

Now, he said, with squamous cell cancer, “we are sort of where we were four or five years ago with adenocarcinoma.”

Below the piece there are 124 Comments:

billqueens, new york
According to a university research report, the vegetables that are most effective in preventing breast cancer include garlic, leek, green onions (scallions), brussels sprouts and cauliflower. All but cauliflower are most effective against lung cancer. The info was found in a research report by the University of Montreal in Quebec, Canada, titled “Antiproliferative and antioxidant activities of common vegetables: A comparative study.” Please pass on this info.
Sept. 11, 2012 at 7:47 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

Robert CohenWinder, Georgia
(Theraputic) marijauna is not necessarily smoked: the ole humorous brownies
solution is apparently being frequently utilized. Plus it may well be legal in only 25-50 more years, so let’s be understanding and patient.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 7:41 p.m.

Janice Badger Nelson RNPark City, Utah
Verified
When I worked with hospice patients who had lung cancer, I felt bad for them because lung cancer is so isolating. It is not like breast cancer; there are no walks, no pink ribbons. People feel ashamed of it even when they were non-smokers. Causes of lung cancer are varied; some research points to radon as being causative. But people think it is only caused by smoking and can be preventable. And they point fingers and say that the person caused it to happen. How short sighted many are.

I was just having a discussion with my husband who is a research scientist and another scientist, both brilliant and way beyond me in intellectual terms and as they were talkling about designing new compounds and such, I asked them why it is that we have not changed the treatment for cancer in all the decades that I have been a nurse. It is still the “knife, poison and burn club” as we used to say back in the 80’s ( Surgery, chemo and radiation) We should be putting more dollars into prevention and screening. Of course we should search for a cure, but I have seen so many cancers that could have been caught early and eliminated, but the insurer would not pay for that MRI or testing. Funny though, they paid thousands to try to “cure” a stage 4 cancer for naught. It is so upsetting.
I simply do not understand their logic. Or lack of it.

By the way, the scientists, my husband included, had no answer. Cancer is and always will be elusive it seems.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 2:37 p.m.RECOMMENDED7

Winston Smith 8495Everywhere, NY
Hopefully this finding ends the death sentence that cancer represents for so many patients. In 1985 my father died of a rare cancer called thymoma…if only he had received this promising treatment…
Sept. 10, 2012 at 1:12 p.m.RECOMMENDED1

YangbanSan DiegoNYT Pick
Unstated in this piece is the observation that the genetic changes in tumors are in constant evolution and may vary from cell to cell at any given time in a given patient. Thus, “targeted therapy” based on genomic analysis may be valuable, but the effects tend to be transient as further mutations occur, just as with conventional “untargeted” therapies. Personalized medicine is the buzz term driving the field at the moment, but terms such as this should be recognized as primarily marketing tools to enhance grantsmanship rather than reflecting a final destination in the struggle against cancer.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 11:04 a.m.RECOMMENDED9

marymaryWashington, DC
Your point is well taken but should interested persons just use an umbrella rather than concluding that the entire parade is likely to be rained out? I am not a scientist and therefore this parallel may be inapt, but if not mistaken viruses, such as the HIV virus, are constantly mutating, yet science and medicine do not cease to search for appropriate means to hinder activity nonetheless. True, there is a vast difference between cells gone necrotically wild, as in cancer, and cells subjected to live invasion, as with viruses, but the impossibility of addressing every potential circumstances does not mean that what can be done should not be explored.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 6:24 p.m.RECOMMENDED1

CitizenMaryland
What happens when many of these targeted drugs work for only a small subset of patients? RIght now, therapies for breast cancer, for example, work in “many” or “most” patients, leaving a much smaller number who will require these kinds of targeted therapies. But will the numbers remain large enough that the pharmaceutical companies will be willing to manufacter these targeted therapies that benefit only a few? Will the problem move from “we don’t have anything that works” to “we won’t manufactuer what works because there are so few of you who need it”?

I hope that most targeted therapies will work for vast quantities of cancer patients, but I also foresee an increasing percentage of patients being told that they have “rare” cancers for which no one is manufacturing the life-saving drugs that they need.

As the granularity increases — that is to say, when each cancer can be broken down into not one or two, but a thousand different types — will the pharmaceutical companies still be interested in developing the drugs that will save lives, or will the overhead just make it uninteresting for them?
Sept. 10, 2012 at 11:04 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

RobertNew York City
The people who claim that Stage IV cancers are always hopeless are overly pessimistic. I’m most familiar with ColoRectal cancer. For Stage IV: if the metastatic spread is 1 or 2 tumors on one organ which are surgically removable, the chances of a cure are good. There are a number of famous patients in this category, such as Herman Cain (Republican candidate) who had colon cancer with spread to liver about 6-7 years ago.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 11:04 a.m.

AlexanderNovia Scotia
This article seems to suggest that there are more mutations than expected in squamos cell lung cancer but not in the other named lung cancers. Given that the article also states that 90% of squamos cell lung cancer affects smokers, are drug companies just hoping to create designer drugs to match brands of cigarettes?
Sept. 10, 2012 at 11:04 a.m.

siste2raleigh, NC
Yes it is obvious today that treating each cancer case like a genetic disease is only available for the super-rich.
Why not someone come up with a device where anyone at home can sequence their cancer cells and send this information to a team of researchers where they can use a computer to figure out what kind of treatment is most likely to work?
This would solve 3 things: 1. more effective treatment 2. faster results
3. more cost effective.
I know this isn’t here yet and here’s why:
1. There is not a device like this on the planet that can differntiate between healthy cells and cancer cells. Well damnit – invent one.
2. There is no computer program that can select a treatment because there is not enough understanding of cause and effect of drugs.
Much of science in the health field is done without a deep understanding of how basic biological processes work. My wife complains all the time becasue medicine is such an “art” they can’t get it right all the time. There is a reason for this – cell biology is enourmously complex.
I beleive that collectively we know how to beat cancer – but no one has connected the dots. Its time that we get down to the fundamentals of biology just like Einstein did with his therory of gravity. His understanding was so basic he was able describe it entirely with a single equation. Its time a multidisciplinary crack team goes back to basics and works to understand cell biology until we beat cancer – and look at each case as deep as we can.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 11:04 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

RaerityHong KongNYT Pick
I am one of the lucky patients who was able to access Crizotinib at a very crucial time of my cancer journey. Since the 2007 diagnosis of muco-epidermoid carcinoma (a type of squamous cell cancer), found initially around the thymus and outside the lungs, I’ve gone through multiple surgeries, radiotherapy (thorax, abdomen, brain) and two rounds of chemotherapy, as well as other target therapies, all treating primary as well as metastases. Last year, my condition hit rock bottom during second-line chemotherapy, which itself was not effective. The tumours had invaded my bronchi, causing severe breathing problems. I coughed and wheezed constantly, my mobility was limited. We placed stents inside the bronchi to mechanically allow air flow.

Last July, just when we thought we were out of options, we discovered my gene mutation matched what Crizotinib targets. The positive effects were almost immediate and just plain amazing. I regained physical stamina, the bronchoscopic images of before and after were like night and day. More importantly, I reclaimed so much of my life.

14 months since Crizotinib however, the effects of the treatment seem to have started to taper off: the tumours are active again. We are hopeful for new medication though, there appears to be a number of them in development.

I’m only 36, I hope very much there will be many more breakthroughs in cancer research, and that I will live to see their glorious effects. Not for me alone, but for generations beyond.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 11:03 a.m.RECOMMENDED8

F. St. LouisNYC
What about dark DNA, the nucleotides between genes? Is it also involved in cell division and, if so, is it being sequenced for differentiating between normal and malignant cells?
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

hen3ryNew York
When are we going to hear about the side effects or the lost potency or mutations in response to the initial treatment? This article, while interesting, doesn’t address those issues. Based upon the years I spent in cancer research I cannot believe that there is a treatment with no side effects and no chance of resistance from some cells that are left over from treatment.

The other issue is cost. Most of us cannot afford mildly serious illnesses. How are we going to pay for something like this:drugs are tailored to match the genetic abnormality in each patient, researchers say. Our insurance companies are not going to pay enough of it to make it affordable. And the ongoing treatment, since it will, presumably be individualized, won’t be affordable either. Staying alive is nice but if costs us our savings, our jobs (and it will in some cases), and puts us in debt what good is that?
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:12 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

Robert CohenWinder, Georgia
“Medical marijauna” has been approved in several State referenda, though formally nixed by the Supreme Court.

So whether Romney or Obama, and whether Democrats or Republicans will control the Senate and/or the House, if enough victims, and our friends and our families, suffering from disease express ourselves by way of social networks which are proven as amazingly influential, “medical marijauna” becomes a major issue which implicitly lmpacts elections, the Tea Party comes to mind, then we will see the Supreme Court changing or a constitutional (a la Volstead) amendment enacted.I perceive there is a good possibility if not probability for the phenomenon realization in 25 to 100 years, so never mind.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 9:08 a.m.

RJPasadena, CA
No where in this story does it state the benefits of these tests in terms of response rate, progression free survival, or overall survival. At best a patient might get 3 months to an year extra of life.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 12:33 a.m.RECOMMENDED6

Fountain of TruthLos Angeles
So … we should end all research that doesn’t guarantee an immediate and permanent cure?
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

AnonWisconsin
It’s interesting to think about how mutation-based vs. organ-based categorization of tumors would lead to a totally different mindset about managing cancers. Will sequencing tumors become the first step in any clinical workup? If tumors are broadly categorized by mutation instead of by organ, and there are many more mutations than organs, will it be possible to power clinical trials with a sufficient number of volunteers to properly evaluate the performance of designer drugs that target a particular pathway?
Sept. 9, 2012 at 11:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED4

TMCNYC
Research centers like Dana Farber and Yale have been doing DNA work ups on new patients for years with the idea that as new therapies are developed they can go through their data base and match them with patients to whom they might apply. This could also be a source of patients that would be appropriate for a trial
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

What nextKansas
Research on lung cancer was put on hold because it was easier to blame the disease on smokers. We had a war on smoking and it worked. Now, quit blaming smokers for a cancer that occurs in non smokers. Who wants to smoke anymore? ME! I quit, but I miss it.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 11:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED5

Katelyn B.Atlanta
What on earth makes you say that lung cancer research was put on hold? This is surely not true. Furthermore, are you implying that smoking is not in fact a major cause of lung cancer? Cancers are caused by gene mutations that allow cells to grow out of control. Smoking is the thing that induces those changes in many people who develop lung cancer. The cause-effect relationship is very well characterized and not in question, as you seem to suggest.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.RECOMMENDED1

BanduNYC
So gratifying to know that some of these advances are being made in Cancer Rx. Unfortunately, it did not help my wife who was battling Ovarian Cancer and passed away last year. The focus for Women’s cancer remains on breast cancer, but Ovarian Cancer deserves a big focus, since it is so difficult to diagnose it early.
Bandu, MD
Sept. 9, 2012 at 11:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED15

harrymichigan
Prevention! Have we forgotten the most important tool in the fight against the big C? All of these new treatment modalities cost a ton of money, where do we think this money comes from— China?
Sept. 9, 2012 at 11:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED2

Dave WymanLos Angeles
My wife, who has lung cancer, didn’t smoke, exercised a lot, and ate well. I don’t think there’s anything more she could have done to prevent the cancer that she has.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

Gerrykingston, canada
Congrats to Serena but I am seriously missing something. Who is on Mars?
Sept. 9, 2012 at 11:07 p.m.

clarkbhall Middleburg, VANYT Pick
My dear wife succumbed to breast cancer that spread to the liver.

For 3 1/2 years, we tried everything that MSK offered and none of it did any good. As her decision-maker (Deb avoided the topic), I listened to the recommendations of repeated oncologists who were really just guessing as to the efficacy of the chemo of the moment when in fact they had no earthly idea what would work. The entire experience has left me bitter, hurt, and deeply cynical of the state of Stage IV cancer treatment.

If I could do it all over again, I would tell my wife the terrible truth and let her know there was no hope. As it is, I lied to her and gave her “hope,” when she knew in her heart there wasn’t any hope.

And now I listen to cancer commercials on television that promise “hope,” and a “cure.” Not for my beloved wife, nor most anybody else whose cancer metastasizes… There is no such thing as hope when so afflicted.. And that’s the truth.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 11:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED9
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Mary AnnNYS
Yours is a sad story clarkbhall. You are right that it is a guessing game when treating stage IV cancer. I am sorry for you and all who have endured such sorrow, both patients and those who love them.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

JCNJ
I am skeptical about MSK…we had a family member there 12 years ago getting radioactive iodine scan after scan after scan for what was guessed to be a distant (lung) recurrence of 20-year-previous thyroid cancer. None of the tumors picked up the RAI until the NIGHT BEFORE he was scheduled for RAI treatment. Suddenly the scan lit up (or so they told us), and he received a massive dose of RAI the next day. Thyroid cancer is highly responsive to this treatment, but it just made him sicker and he died six months later. To this day I believe what he had was lung cancer, not a recurrence of thyroid, but his endocrinologist just would not look down any other path.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

SusanEastern WA
I am so sorry for you and for what your wife endured. But your critique does not apply to all cancers.

My doctors were very hesitant to even tell me the stage of my throat cancer, because most are diagnosed at stage III or IV, yet it’s highly curable. You just have to live with the sometimes-miserable effects of treatment.

This article just reinforces the idea that there will be no “cure for cancer,” as it’s not just one disease. And now we see that each type of cancer may not be a single type, either.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 6:24 p.m.

Peter MelzerCharlottesville, VA
Cancer cells mutate as they rapidly divide, producing unique subsets of cells. At the time of diagnosis, several subsets may already exist. The more targeted the drug, the less effective it will be in wiping the slate clean. Some targeted therapies may extend survival. Personalized medicine, however, will not provide a cure.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 11:07 p.m.

Dave WymanLos Angeles
This is wrong. There are people on targeted therapies who have lived for years.

Chemo therapy did not work for my wife, who had advanced lung cancer. Before she began a targeted treatment, her doctor told her she had perhaps two months before she would die.

She started targeted therapy in November, 2010. For now, there is no sign that her cancer mutated. In fact, for now, there is no sign of any living tumors in her body. So targeting the particular genetic makeup of her cancer saved her life and has given a lot of extra time.

While most people do see a recurrence of their lung cancer on this treatment, a few people have been alive for almost a decade. How long will my wife live? No one knows. I do know that without that targeted therapy, she would have died in early 2011.

As we slice the genetic pie of lung cancer into smaller and smaller pieces, we will indeed be able to retarget cancers that mutate.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.RECOMMENDED4

Gerrykingston, canada
Gina, live your life.Want to become someone? When the headline reads cancer can be beaten. Not exactly truthfull. Sorry given how many drugs are available. People die.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 11:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED1

Connect::the::DotsNYC
The goods news is that different mutations in different patients doesn’t mean the fundamental pathways of dis-regulation are dissimilar, and in fact we’ll likely find a limited number of pathways common to all forms of cancer, treatable therefore with a common set of targeted drugs/therapies.

This will probably happen much much faster than anticipated as rapid progress is made on isolating/decoding the meaning of various mutations and
common patterns of dis-regulation start to emerge.

There’s definitely cause for optimism.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 10:49 p.m.RECOMMENDED4

Newton4MarylandNYT Pick
As a physician-researcher, I feel compelled to assert that the vast majority of NYTimes readers will not be able to afford these “personalized” therapies. This is the hidden dark-side of cutting edge biomedical research. While many politicians eschew other medical systems because they are not highly innovative, these resultant therapies are ultimately of no value to Americans if they disproportionately inflate the cost of care or are priced out of the incomes of most persons. Ms. Kolata needs to step back from the glow of the science to consider these practical issues that will ultimately compromise the hopes for innovation.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 8:09 p.m.RECOMMENDED29
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JFMSan Diego
As a fellow bench to bedside researcher I agree. As a former Pharma exec familiar with the process of calculating return on R&D investment, I feel that there is not enough investigative journalism on how “personalized medicine” will be delivered.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 11:21 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

Frank LipskyScottsdale ,AZ
Newton4:
You have valid point about affordability but to be logically consistent;don’t physicians and hospitals have duty to turn end of life patients(<90days) over to hospice instead of running up bills for these patients Sept. 10, 2012 at 6:24 p.m. christineseattle Thank you for writing this. I couldn't agree more. The "glow of science" indeed. Sept. 10, 2012 at 7:24 p.m. HJMaryland After all those years with the wars on cancer, it looks as if we are only beginning to see how we could find cures after the fundamental change in our understanding of what cancer is thanks to genomic revolution. All of our cells keep dividing, making copies of DNA; they make enough mistakes in doing so, the genetic programs go into uncontrolled infinite loops just like computer codes with bugs do. Kudos for the human genome project. Critics complained what we were going to do with the sequenced data that we don’t understand.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 8:09 p.m.RECOMMENDED1

PBManlius NY
FLAG
As an older person who taught at a medical school and health science center, I have seen the old laborious, skeptical, cautious, see-if-you-can-prove-yourself-wrong “scientist model” transformed into a “business model.”

Medical research has become literally & figuratively a rat race for grants, big bucks, personal & institutional status, patents, and market share.The conflicts of interest and gaming the system that permeate drug research in particular are staggering.

Today, advertising and framing is the name of the game. Check some of the language, hyperbole, and false optimism (at this point in the research) in this “objective” NYT report. And, why are the answers mostly: “have we got a drug for you to treat whatever!” How much research goes into issues of lifestyle and prevention vs. expensive treatment at the back end?

I have seen too many friends and family so hopeful about their cancer treatments–all ginned up on the promises they believe their infallible doctors sold them on–only to come out of the experience angry, depressed, and, if they make it, living with a life time of side effects and damage. And in some cases, broke. If they don’t make it, these same feelings are expressed by family members.

Yes, the treatments mercifully work for some, but the medical Industry is now promising too early & much more than it can possibly deliver, and it is not just to keep up patients’ hopes. Follow the money (including lobbyists and political pressure).
Sept. 9, 2012 at 8:09 p.m.RECOMMENDED31
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PatrickLong Island NY
Thanks for the insight. Like the old saying goes; “An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.”
Sept. 9, 2012 at 11:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED2

RJPasadena, CA
Lots of money will be made through this process. Lab tests will skyrocket for the gene tests and people will be given false hope.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.RECOMMENDED1

Dave WymanLos Angeles
Maybe because your older – old? – you aren’t able to see the benefits of increased technology, Manlius.

I take objection to your claim that the medical industry promises more than it can deliver. Let’s see some links to back that up, especially with cancer treatment, and even specifically with targeted cancer treatment for lung cancer. Just where has false hope been given?
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.RECOMMENDED1

MetastasisChapel Hill, NC
Many people seem exasperated that “cancer” hasn’t yet been cured. Well, here’s why: even by old morphological criteria there were probably 200 types of cancer, each requiring different understand of its etiology and treatment. Now we know that each type of cancer is probably made up of scores of genetic types that only show up by their sequence (and the heterogeneity of their response to treatments). So now we’re talking many thousands of diseases.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 8:09 p.m.RECOMMENDED8

TreblaSoCal
This is promising news but still a long way off for real treatment to start.
An issue barely touched is the cost of this stuff and the public support of basic research, without which, this would not have happened. The Pharma Corps owe some fealty to the people of the country that did the basic research for them.
My malignant melanoma IV (Very bad) was stopped cold one year ago by ipilimumab. The basic science was developed at UC Berkeley with public funds. S-K bought the company which was developing clinical trials. S-K charges $30,000 per dose, and plans to make a $billion. While I’m glad and amazed that I’m her, and she’s cancer-free for now.

Tarceva costs $5,550 if you are wealthy and don’t have insurance. If you have insurance, cost depends on who insures you. For my wife, the cost is $100 per month. It doesn’t cost her insurance company $5,450 per month.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

DanArlington, VA
In the meantime, try any one of the many natural cancer treatments. It amazes me that people keep thinking that synthetic (i.e., toxic drugs) are going to cure anything; they’re as bad as the disease itself. We are the product of nature and nature provides all the substances we need to survive. If nature doesn’t, maybe we meed to accept that we can’t live forever. Bankrupting our families and our country for the sake of living an extra few months just doesn’t seem to be the way to go.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.

workerbeeFlorida
A previous NYT article on genomics, which is what today’s article seems to be about, was “How Bright Promise in Cancer Testing Fell Apart,” published July 7, 2011. According to that article, hopes for a successful cancer treatment based on individual genetics were high until one of the most promising cancer researchers, Dr. Anil Potti, was accused of falsifying data and claiming that he was a Rhodes scholar but wasn’t one. The incident has become known as the “Potti scandal.” That article says, “While researchers agree there is great promise in this science [genomics], it has yet to yield many reliable methods for diagnosing cancer or identifying the best treatment.” The article also indicates that the FDA hadn’t been enforcing its regulations in this area of research from individual labs, and that cancer researchers are chasing the money, yet there have been no significant breakthrough discoveries.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 6:54 p.m.RECOMMENDED7

Rob L777Conway, SC
These article truths show how much remains to be done in this field, and how slow progress will be:

“Yet even though the squamous cell cancers analyzed in the study often had kinase mutations, cells have many kinase genes and the mutations were different in different patients.

“Unfortunately, what the Cancer Genome Atlas has revealed is that everyone’s cancer could be very different, said Dr. William Pao, a lung cancer researcher at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and an author of the new paper.”

I wonder if genetics will truly revolutionize medical science, or merely create extremely expensive, individualized treatments for the few lucky enough to afford them, and receive them. In that sense, every article like this one promises way more than can be delivered in a reasonable future time-frame. Hence, it constitutes a kind of well-meaning hype for more such Big Pharme, this part of the business seems obscene to me.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 8:09 p.m.RECOMMENDED23

Dave WymanLos Angeles
” S-K charges $30,000 per dose, and plans to make a $billion.”

Let’s see a link to back up that claim. In fact, the drug is marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb, and yearly sales are expected to reach one billion dollars by 2017 – the plan isn’t to make a billion off the drug.

See this – http://www.blogoup.com/blog/2011/3/27/ipilimumab-a-great-university-star…

“basic science was developed at UC Berkeley with public funds”

How do you know that lab wasn’t financed by outside sources? Link? Not only that, but Berkeley most likely still makes money from the development of ipilimumab, because it licensed the technology for the drug, it didn’t sell it.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 11:04 a.m.

DollyDallas TX
My husband recently died after a 3 year battle with non-small cell lung cancer. He never smoked and hardly ever had a chest x-ray. He participated in a clinical trial that for a new drug that dramatically reduced the size and density of his main tumor but not enough people had improvements so the clinical trial was stopped and the drug is no longer available. I am certain we got an extra year together because of this drug so I am grateful for that. He did have a DNA analysis to see if he had a gene mutation that is common for his type of cancer and it was positive. I hope someone is correlating the results of his clinical trial with his DNA in the hopes this could someday help others. This should be done for all clinical trials. I think there is new insight to be gained if this can be done. My husband worked in the computer industry – that is what computers are great at – correlating massive amounts of data. It is quite obvious that cancer is a highly individual disease and the more we learn about genetics the closer we will get to a “cure”.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 6:55 p.m.RECOMMENDED20

marcchi, IL
these “individualized” approaches will bring huge money to drug companies (and genomics centers), but meanwhile other –less profitable but more promising– approaches are neglected… like a full-spectrum cancer vaccine that targets cells expressing in an out-of-context manner some normal(=non-patentable) gene products that only opportunistically de-/mis-regulated cancer cells ever get to express in an individual (e.g., opposite-sex surface proteins). [a group in 2009 successfully cured a specific breast cancer case by vaccinating against a lactation protein expressed only by lactating females, i.e., by vaccinating against a single such anomalously expressed antigen; but a full-spectrum cancer vaccine would target them all. Meanwhile the evidence is growingly clear that the vast majority or cancer cells are opportunistically very mis-/de-regulated].

this vaccine would protect everybody who gets vaccinated before any cancers develop (and would protect against misregulated aging cells)!
Sept. 9, 2012 at 6:55 p.m.RECOMMENDED5

PNew Orleans
There is a vaccine out there that’s very promising and has shown to substantially reduce the rate of at least many of these squamous cell cancers. Look into it.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 11:06 a.m.

HowieLawrence
Why are government and academia so darn slow in providing new drugs? It seems they know what to target.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 6:54 p.m.

TreblaSoCal
It’s really hard science. That takes a while.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 8:09 p.m.RECOMMENDED2

ShowMeMissouri
Do any of the chemicals fed to animals and plants to increase agriculture production come through the food and stimulate cancer growth?
Sept. 9, 2012 at 6:54 p.m.RECOMMENDED9

DanArlington, VA
You betcha, as well as chemicals like Bisphenol-A in plastics, genetically modified foods, sugar, grains, etc. that the Government promotes to our detriment. Know this, company profits always come first before human health. The FDA, for instance, approves killer drugs and then leaves them on the market until the death toll rises too high (think Vioxx, 60,000 dead). Meanwhile the FDA outlaws natural treatments that work to protect company profits. And then we have conventional medicine that only knows pharmaceutical drugs for any condition as the standard of care.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 7:27 a.m.

CycledocEverson WA
The facts sadly are that we are not doing much better treating lung cancer today than we did 25 years ago. The 5 year survival rate for small cell lung cancer is under 10%, for non-small cell lung cancer the rate is 15%. The earlier the diagnosis, the better the outcome.

There has been progress and there are some patients who do exceptionally well, but then again there were always a few patients who confounded the predictions. (http://lungcancer.about.com/od/whatislungcancer/a/lungcancersurvivalrate…

The new approaches are hopeful but completely unproven. Ms. Kolata has connections with the pharmaceutical industry and I’ve found her articles often more optimistic than warranted by proven data. (Such as her articles on anti-aging, alzheimers treatments, cancer preventing drugs and so on)

Hopefully something will pan out and we will be able to afford the approach. New drugs for cancer today are costing in the range of $6000-$10,000/month. Most offer very modest improvements in outcomes in most patients.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 6:54 p.m.RECOMMENDED12

Dave WymanLos Angeles
“The new approaches are hopeful but completely unproven.”

This is not true. Tarceva, a targeted biotherapy, gives those who respond to the drug an average of 10 months of life before lung cancer begins growing again. My wife has now been on the drug for 22 monthsa research.

We live in a society where death from any cause whatsoever is unacceptable to most Americans. We are all the ones driving up the cost of medicine because of our unrealistic fantasies of immortality, stoked by the promise of ever more astronomically costly scientific research. I don’t see how this ends well, philosophically, or financially.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 6:54 p.m.RECOMMENDED10
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lwbaumHong Kong
“I wonder if genetics will truly revolutionize medical science, or merely create extremely expensive, individualized treatments for the few lucky enough to afford them, and receive them.”

I think the answer is Yes–to both. Genetics will revolutionize medical science, particularly cancer treatment, and it will create extremely expensive, individualized treatments for a few people. However, after the drugs come off patent, they will be more affordable for the next generation. It’s like planting an orchard. There will be no payback for years or even decades, but if you don’t invest in planting the trees and caring for them, your children will not get the fruit.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.

Rob L777Conway, SC
anon, I am happy for your good fortune regarding your husband’s treatment, and its costs being covered by your insurance. Most who get sick with rare cancers will not be so fortunate, or so lucky.

Your good fortune does not alter the points I am making about our scientific, technological society. As a society, we can not afford the medical treatments we are developing. The corporate, university and government entities developing these treatments have no regard for the greater consequences of their actions. They only see their work as pathways to fame, wealth, and endowments.

Cancer isn’t one illness, or a hundred different illnesses. It is probably thousands of different illnesses. It will not be possible to cure them all. From a financial standpoint alone, the continuing development of these treatments will eventually bankrupt us.

They will also lead us to rationing treatments, whether we want to do this, or not. There will not be enough wealth in society to support using these treatments for everyone who needs them. So they will go first to the wealthy, then the well-connected, then to those whose cases garner public sympathies via the media. Perhaps we could develop a lottery system for treatments, but it is difficult to see how useful it would be.

Science and technology are our new gods, and we, as a society, are incapable of developing the ethical and moral frameworks needed to contain them and use them properly. This failure will be our destruction.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.RECOMMENDED1

Dave WymanLos Angeles
And my wife, who is 66, has a life expectancy of 80. She certainly doesn’t expect to live forever. I think she’s glad, though, she’s been kept alive by her targeted drug therapy for lung cancer for the past two years, long enough to enjoy hikes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and to see the marriage of her daughter (and our daughter’s first child is due in a few days).
Sept. 10, 2012 at 11:04 a.m.

SF MDNY
Unfortunately, this article will raise hopes when the data is still not conclusive. On the other hand, there are clearly things breast cancer patients should push their doctors to be doing [which they do not do as a result of no financial incentive] such as reduce false negatives in pathology reports. I would encourage those interested to read the abstract of this paper:
http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/early/2011/06/27/JCO.2010.32.9706

Sept. 9, 2012 at 6:54 p.m.RECOMMENDED5

KAHCentral, NJ
This all sounds very promising until you realize that the pharmaceutical companies have been laying off their drug discovery researchers like there’s no tomorrow. I have no idea how they plan to come up with these miraculous new customized drugs they’re touting since those of us who used to do that work are now unemployed. You’d think called oncology drug discovery researchers would be pretty valuable. Apparently not.
It s not any easy job and not just anybody can do it. My heart goes out to cancer patients.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 6:54 p.m.RECOMMENDED13

maureennova scotia
All of the respondents above: Please show me any credible evidence that marijuana causes disease; in addition, do your own research about medical marijuana and check the number of university studies showing its potential benefits. Finally, none of you know me so please don’t make assumptions about me or my history. And one last thing, no one is asking anyone who doesn’t want to use marijuana to use it, to grow it or to buy it. Adults make all sorts of decisions and each of us has a right to decide for ourselves if we want to buy guns (I don’t), smoke cigarettes (I don’t and never have), drink alcohol (I don’t and never had). We, Americans, seem to be anti so many things that are really none of our business (i.e. living a homosexual lifestyle, marrying out of our religion or ethnic backgrounds, making decisions about birth control, abortions etc…when did we stop being a free people able to make personal decisions for ourselves??)
Sept. 9, 2012 at 6:54 p.m.RECOMMENDED5

PeteHSydney, AU
I am not going to comment on your choice to use cannabis, Maureen, because it is, as you have rightly stated, none of my business. I would, however, commend the following papers to you:

Hashibe M, Morgenstern H, Cui Y et al. 2006.
Marijuana use and the risk of lung and upper
aerodigestive tract cancers: results of a population-based
case-control study. In: Cancer Epidemiol
Biomarkers Prev, 15, 1,829–1,834 p.

Aldington S, Harwood M, Cox B et al. Cannabis use
and risk of lung cancer: a case-control study. In: Eur
Respir J, Feb, 31(2), 280-286 p.

Rickert W, Robinson J and Rogers B. 1982. A comparison
of tar, carbon monoxide and pH levels in smoke from
marijuana and tobacco cigarettes. In: Can J Pub
Health, 73, 386–391 p.

Mittleman MA, Lewis RA, Maclure M et al. 2001.
Triggering myocardial infarction by marijuana. In:
Circulation, 103, 2,805–2,809 p.

Lee MH and Hancox RJ. 2011. Effects of smoking
cannabis on lung function. In: Expert Rev Respir Med,
Aug, 5(4), 537-546 p; quiz 547 p.

Tetrault JM, Crothers K, Moore BA et al. 2007. Effects
of Marijuana Smoking on Pulmonary Function and
Respiratory Complications: A Systematic Review. In:
Arch Intern Med, Feb 12, 167(3), 221-228 p.

I could go on…

There is abundant evidence that cannabis smoking has serious cardiopulmonary and immunological sequelae, not to mention the potential psychiatric effects. By all means, smoke it but don’t claim that it’s harmless. It’s not.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.

DanArlington, VA
Hip hip hooray for you Maureen; you’re the woman!
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.

Gerrykingston, canada
There are hundreds of research centres. Then there are Winnipeg, Minnesota/St. Paul and Atlanta. Quit smoking is easy. Maybe America get in the face of of public schools cafetirias (sp).
Sept. 9, 2012 at 6:54 p.m.RECOMMENDED2

Ron DayBloomington, IN
It always seemed to me rather unclear, other than as historical and sociological prejudice, that cancers were classified morphologically. For one, where exactly do the lungs or colon or breasts begin and end??? It is like the 19th century study of organisms as distinct based on morphology, rather than as historical/evolutionary expressions. Sure, one can say that a certain organ’s cell appears cancerous, but that hardly tells you that the cancer is a cancer _of that organ_, that is to say that the cancer mutation of that cell is the causal origin of the cancer, rather than an expression of a more fundamental mutation that may, if the conditions are right, be shared with other organs throughout the body though it may or may not be expressed as a cancerous mutation. The whole thing seemed illogical, though that hardly seems to have mattered given the sociology of cancer research and treatment, organized by morphological epistemologies. Perhaps the thinking on this is changing and somehow can change the NIH and the whole sociology of cancer research and treatment. Let’s hope. Many lives can be saved and many have been lost. Sometimes ‘science’ is misled by poor _a priori_ assumptions, which are kept out of the doing of science by the ver practices of science. Perhaps this is the case here and we can learn a lesson elsewhere in science/engineering, as well?
Sept. 9, 2012 at 5:08 p.m.RECOMMENDED3

MetastasisChapel Hill, NC
How about that! You’re smarter than all of the cancer researchers!

Morphological characteristics and tissue of origin were the only available diagnostic criteria until very recently. Don’t you remember how long and how expensive it was to get the human genome sequence, just 11 years ago? Well, it’s taken this long to get sequencing on the scale and cost where these kinds of questions could even be asked. People speculated about profound genetic differences all along, but without the tools to find them.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 8:09 p.m.RECOMMENDED3

Marc SchaefferlWyckoff NJ
One wonders whether cancer patients of modest means or with bare bones insurance or unable to receive treatment beyond a community hospital will be able to get the genetic analysis of their tumors that will permit them to receive genetically targeted treatments? Media reported that Steve Jobs spent $100k on DNA analysis of his tumor.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 5:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED13

RobertNew Hampshire
Mitt will give each of us a coupon which we will take to the nearest Consortium and knock on the door for enrollment, right? The unfortunates with lung cancer will be fortunate if the coupon covers the entry costs along with all other healthcare costs, for sure.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 6:54 p.m.RECOMMENDED9

SMLNew York City
And guess what? He died anyway.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 8:09 p.m.RECOMMENDED2

PhytoistN.j.
Moment,spot/place & the way life would end is carved in every living organism’s destiny of chart-no one ever gonna win over it. Only thing HUMANBEINGS can do is follow the scientific treatment course to ease pain associated with a disease,pray god,keep doing good in life & give up extreme greed. Look @ Leno,who took 50% salary cut to avert lay off amongst his working staff,he deserves our congratulations good wishes from fellow workers.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 11:07 p.m.

chesterNY
Tapas Fleming, an LA Acupuncturist, healed her own breast cancer (stage 3) using an acupressure technique she developed. She had only 3 of an anticipated 20 chemos. She has been cancer free for 8 years.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 5:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED2

CycledocEverson WA
Be skeptical of such reports. Such chemotherapy is often offered to prevent recurrence after surgery rather than to treat advanced disease. Often times these patients have a limited risk of recurrence even without treatment. It would not be surprising that an individual would have such an outcome.

On the other hand, if you took 100 patients who had a 50% risk of recurrence and treated them to prevent recurrence, only 25 or so would recur. The treatment has utility but trying to evaluated it’s efficacy in an individual case, unless there is measurable disease, has not validity.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 6:29 p.m.RECOMMENDED4

DanArlington, VA
All these billions spent on cancer research with so little to show for it when there are a host of natural treatments that prevent cancer and actually cure it. The problem is that natural treatments are cheap and won’t megamillions for pharmaceutical companies and oncologists, and won’t offer the promises of riches for researchers that come up with new drugs. Even something such as the use of some chemotherapeutic drugs in combination with DMSO, which targets glucose-hungry tumor cells is not widely used because it only requires a tenth of the chemo. Surprise, that’s only a tenth of the profit. Or how about intravenous vitamin C; gee, too cheap! Or how about Burzinski’s anti-neoplaston therapy: no, too cheap. And where’s the FDA in all these? Out protecting the pharmaceutical companies, the FDA’s master.Then, there is Essiac tea; again, too cheap.

Instead of continuing to spend our future on cancer research that only focuses on therapies that will reap billions, let’s spend more on research that will reap billions in saved health care costs.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 5:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED8

KTBCaliforniaNYT Pick
As someone who works for a major biotechnology company responsible for developing targeted therapeutic proteins, I am sometimes struck by the general misunderstandings the public harbors concerning scientific methodology, the applications and scope of personalized medicine, and the ability of “cheap” or “natural” remedies to meaningfully address disease conditions.

First of all, there are many substances, primarily small-molecule “chemicals” (which might include chemotherapeutic agents such as methotrexate as well as substances such as vitamin C) that exhibit cytotoxicity in vitro. One could technically claim, in these artificial circumstances, that concentrated antioxidants (for example) kill cancer cells. The problem is that when these agents are generally distributed within a living body, they tend not to discriminate between cancer and regular cells, and the effects can be detrimental to the organism as a whole. Targeted therapies seek to attack a single aspect of cellular expression that is typically, or predominantly, an attribute of abnormal cellular proliferation. An example would be an anti-VEGF drug, which acts by inhibiting the formation of vascular supply routes to rapidly proliferating cell bodies (such as cancer), but has minimal effects on normal tissues.

Second, each of these biopharmaceutical drugs undergoes extensive characterization and testing in an attempt to thoroughly understand the mechanism of action. The same cannot be said for natural remedies.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 8:09 p.m.RECOMMENDED12

MetastasisChapel Hill, NC
Really? Name one that has been proven. Just one.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 8:09 p.m.RECOMMENDED5

PeteHSydney, AU
None of the “treatments” you mentioned are promoted as cancer therapy, Dan, because none of them have been shown to work. Period.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.

Dave WymanLos Angeles
The headline of this article is misleading, as we don’t find out until we are well into it that target therapies work with people who have adenocarcinoma lung cancers.

My wife takes pill each day that acts on the specific lung cancer cells that she has, cells genetically different than the lung cancer cells most people. She’s been cancer-free for 20 straight months (the drug: Tarceva).
Sept. 9, 2012 at 5:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED3
READ ALL 4 REPLIES

KTBCaliforniaNYT Pick
Tarceva is one of the drugs that we make. Another drug is Herceptin. My mother took Herceptin for stage 3C breast cancer (she was a high-expresser of the HER-2 gene) and was cancer free for another 6 years. Her quality of life during this period was normal in every respect. Because it is my profession, and because I have seen the results of these drugs first hand, I will defend their development and appropriate use strenuously. They are expensive because the scientific and technological challenges and regulatory requirements are extraordinarily difficult to surmount, not because these companies want to gouge sickened individuals. Our primary goal is to develop safe, pure and effective treatments for significant unmet medical needs, and the entire business model is predicated upon meaningfully improving disease outcomes in patients.

I hope your wife remains in remission, and I am glad every time I hear of a successful outcome with any of these drugs. It is personally meaningful to me.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 8:09 p.m.RECOMMENDED12

LauraNew York
@KTB, my father was a leading researcher on the drug that eventually became known as Gleevec, and was telling me 15 years ago that genetic testing (but first, the availability of cheap genetic sequencing) was the key to defeating cancer. Unfortunately and ironically, he died of cancer before Gleevec was in clinical trials. But I share many of your sentiments – the lack of general science knowledge in the public (especially those who rant about Big Pharma withholding cheap lifesaving remedies from cancer patients) and the pride in hearing of someone who had extra time with their loved one because of the drug my father helped develop.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 11:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED2

LBSDel Mar, CA
My brother has been living a pretty normal life for 6 years after being diagnosed with stage 3B non-small cell lung cancer. After initial chemo and radiation, he has been taking Tarceva. The tumor is still there, but so is he.

So sometimes it works.

His medical care is with Kaiser.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.

maureennova scotia
The anecdotal evidence from people suffering from this lung cancer and about their unlawful use of cannabis to treat themselves show that they have had amazing results from its use; likewise, people suffering from brain cancers and other types of cancers as well, report remission of their symptoms and tumors. The scientific research bears them out, but the study of this modality has been stifled by the the insane war against drugs in the U.S. (just one of the countries many wars). The study of medical marijuana was stopped in the United States in 1974! They suppressed, at that time, the emerging evidence of the efficacy of marijuana in the treatment of cancers. Now researchers in other parts of the world are studying this drug with promising results.

At best, marijuana, despite media and government propaganda to the contrary is less harmful that other recreational drugs (esp. the use of alcohol).

Why won’t the government allow adults the right to make this choice for themselves without fear of prosecution?
Sept. 9, 2012 at 3:59 p.m.RECOMMENDED17
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chesterNY
Do lung cancer patients smoke this medical marijuana?
Sept. 9, 2012 at 5:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED1

Paul CometX NYCNew York
Maureen wrote: “They suppressed… the emerging evidence of the efficacy of marijuana in the treatment of cancers.”

She forgot to mention the source of that evidence. Was it High Times magazine?
Sept. 9, 2012 at 5:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED3

MetastasisChapel Hill, NC
Again, show me. Such a potent cure must surely be documented, right?
Sept. 9, 2012 at 8:09 p.m.RECOMMENDED1

BrodstonGretna, Nebraska
There must be hundreds of separate research centers in the United States all working on cancer cases. Why aren’t we concentrating all the resources into two or three megacenters or at least coordinating the work? The present system of scattering resources about seems like wellfare for academics and fund raising entities. In regards to smoking, this despicable addiction (which is also subsidized by the American taxpayer in the form of agricultural subsidizes to those who grow tobacco) raises the incidence of all forms of cancer but especially lung and oral neoplams. Second hand smoke has also been implicated. Statistical analysis confirms that It also contributes to emphysema, asthma, sinusitis, all forms of pneumonia, fatal house fires and car wrecks.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 3:59 p.m.RECOMMENDED7

Katelyn B.Atlanta
I think you’re misunderstanding how biomedical research works. Research is always collaborative, regardless of whether it’s taking place at different centers. All research builds off of previously published work, and centers do in fact communicate, share data sets, etc.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 5:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED7

workerbeeFlorida
Indicated but not stated explicitly is that there is still no cure for cancer, only treatments, most of which remain experimental, and cancer specialists never know for sure if a particular treatment will be successful on any particular patient. A lot of money is being spent on cancer research but the results so far are not encouraging. This article provides a reason for hope but not much else. Rarely mentioned as a cause of cancer is the excessive use of xrays of the chest area, especially lung and breast xrays which are promoted as preventive measures.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 3:17 p.m.RECOMMENDED11
READ ALL 4 REPLIES

KRCWA
I’ve been cancer-free for almost 40 years. I would say I am cured. It depends a lot on the type of cancer.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 5:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED4

Katelyn B.Atlanta
Marc makes an excellent point. “Cancer” is not really one disease. It simply describes cells in the body that are growing out of control. The causes for cancer–and thus the treatments–are hugely variable. We are thus not necessarily looking for THE cure to cancer, so much as we are looking for many different cures for many different cancers.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 5:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED10

schbrgdallas, texas
Having had cancer, I can tell you that oncologists are acutely aware of the carcinogenic properties of x-rays and scans….hence their recommendations of MRIs if you many cancer check-ups in your future.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 11:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED1

SusieQNew York
This is why we should also be investing in more stem cell research – we’ll have the ability to tailor drugs to the individual – www.nyscf.org – the New York Stem Cell Foundation is a privately funded not for profit that is advancing work in this area.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 3:17 p.m.RECOMMENDED6

Mary AnnNYS
Three of the first five comments wrote “quite” when what they meant is “QUIT smoking.” One comment I assume a typo, in three comments, it’s a pattern.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 3:17 p.m.RECOMMENDED6

PatrickLong Island NY
You’re right! It went right past me, thanks. I use the word quite very often. Take care, pat

QUIT SMOKING!

How’s that?
Sept. 9, 2012 at 3:59 p.m.RECOMMENDED3

Mary AnnNYS
QUIT SMOKING is great Patrick! take care as well.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 11:06 a.m.RECOMMENDED1

KDGreat Falls, Va.
Great news for lung cancer patients. Amazing developments in the works with reports on Friday of experimental drug Bavituximab doubling survival rates in cancer patients at Stages 3/4.
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-09-07/lifestyle/sns-rt-us-peregr…
Sept. 9, 2012 at 2:29 p.m.RECOMMENDED4

EinsteinAmerica
This is very interesting research.

“While as many as 30 percent of adenocarcinoma patients never smoked, well over 90 percent of squamous cell cancer patients are or were smokers.”

The question is : would these genetic abnormalities still result in lung cancer even if none of the patients ever smoked?
Sept. 9, 2012 at 2:29 p.m.RECOMMENDED4

David MarkunArlington, MA
The abnormalities are in the cancer cell lines, but are not found in the normal cells of the patient. We tend to think of DNA as being identical in every cell of a multi-celled organism, but this is true only if every cell division is carried out with perfect accuracy. Mutations arising during cell division in certain cell lines created these abnormalities — and smoking has been shown to be an effective way to promote such mutations. In short, these are not genetic abnormalities as we normally think of them: abnormalities inherited from the parents.

So the short answer to your question is: These genetic abnormalities almost never occur without diligent smoking. By smoking, you can rise above your ho-hum genetic heritage and create an exciting, expensive, fatal cancer mutation.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 3:17 p.m.RECOMMENDED9

schbrgdallas, texas
Yes, what smoking does is to increase the probabilities of developing cancer, and not just lung cancer.

Essentially, the two critical gene families involved in oncogenesis are proto-oncogenes and tumor suppresor genes. Inclement mutations to the DNA bases, and/or epigenetic factors in some cases, can bring about a fully cancerous cells.

Proto-oncogenes, for example, are some of the most evolutionary-wide genes in existence as they control cell division. And when I say “evolutionary-wide” I mean almost all multi-cellular organisms, and even single cell, such as yeast. Which is why yeast is a model organism for studying cancer.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 11:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED1

EinsteinAmerica
David Markun-

Let’s not leap to conclusions.

Since when is 30% ‘almost never’?

Is it possible that the underlying problem in all these cases is with their DNA repair mechanisms not with smoking by itself?

Why does smoking NOT always lead to fatal cancer mutations in all smokers?
Sept. 9, 2012 at 11:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED1

PatrickLong Island NY
If you quite smoking, there will be immediate health benefits. There will be less chance of a heart attack.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 1:51 p.m.RECOMMENDED8

Frank LanguageNew York, NY
Not everyone gets lung cancer from smoking or even secondhand smoke; Donna Summer, who died this past year, was convinced her lung cancer had come from her proximity to Ground Zero. We’ll probably never know that one for sure, but Andy Kaufman—a non-smoker—also died from lung cancer.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 3:17 p.m.RECOMMENDED2

Connect::the::DotsNYC
Frank –

Many performers have spent decades breathing second hand smoke in nightclub settings….
Sept. 9, 2012 at 3:59 p.m.RECOMMENDED4

PatrickLong Island NY
Do it for the money! I quite smoking cold turkey 13 years ago and it was much easier than I thought it would be after smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. I love to see the cigarette prices in the store now. Here, the price is about 10 dollars a pack. That means at two packs a day, I’m saving 600 dollars a month or 7,200 dollars a year. That’s pretty good incentive to quit, don’t you think?
Sept. 9, 2012 at 1:51 p.m.RECOMMENDED30

Kate MadisonDepoe Bay, Oregon
How about a larger, more effective campaign to STOP smoking? This is the major issue! I really do believe that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Especially with smokers and lung cancer! Let us get real.
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.RECOMMENDED1

Gerrykingston, canada
I know, I know, I know. Come Monday morning we will be back to what the Kardishians are doing. Still, this is a pretty cool article.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 1:51 p.m.RECOMMENDED10

PatrickLong Island NY
Fabulous news and this is why I still support pharmaceutical research investment. Don’t smoke cigarettes because if you do you have a one in three chance of dying, and if you quite now, it will take about ten years for your lungs to clear the residue and you will have a far greater chance of living a long life.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 1:51 p.m.RECOMMENDED11

WMSnodgrasEl Paso, TX
Hi Patrick,

Where did you find information documenting healing process of the lungs over time, following the cesation of smoking?
Sept. 9, 2012 at 5:07 p.m.RECOMMENDED1

PatrickLong Island NY
Howdy WM at the pass

I took a course in Respiratory therapy many years ago. That knowledge helped me quit smoking.
Sept. 9, 2012 at 8:09 p.m.RECOMMENDED1

Crazy EddieNew York, NY
“While as many as 30 percent of adenocarcinoma patients never smoked”. Can anyone confirm that second hand smoke has been factored out on this percentage?
Sept. 9, 2012 at 1:51 p.m.RECOMMENDED11
Comments are no longer being accepted. Please submit a letter to the editor for print consideration.
——-

So the fact that Mother Nature’s compounds are cytotoxic in vitro is admitted, but the claim is that they become unselective in vivo? And that this doesn’t apply to chemo?

Have to study this comment thread carefully, since iot shows that the alternative is not dormant in the minds of many.

Meanwhile here is the Times bio of this delightfully receptive and warm hearted correspondent:

My focus at The Times is on science and medicine and my training is in science — I studied molecular biology on the graduate level at M.I.T. for a year and a half and have a masters degree in applied mathematics from the University of Maryland.

My work at The Times has led me to be a Pulitzer finalist twice — for investigative reporting in 2000 and for explanatory journalism in 2010. Other writing awards include ones in 2010 from the Silurian Society for a series on the war on cancer, and from the Associated Press Sports Editors for writing about the Caster Semenya intersex controversy at the world track championships.

In previous years I have received awards from other groups, including the American Association of Health Care Journalists, and the University of Maryland, which gave me a Distinguished Alumnus Award. Bowdoin College gave me an honorary doctoral degree. And I was made a Kentucky Colonel, just like Col. Sanders.

I have written several books, including Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss and the Myths and Realities of Dieting (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), which was a finalist for the Quill book awards in 1997.

I have also lectured at various universities and medical schools.

Besides working for The Times, my passions include spending time with my family, reading literary fiction, distance running, road cycling, cooking and knitting.

If you would like to contact me directly, please send an e-mail to kolata@nytimes.com.

It must be hard to investigate the briefings you get from sources that your editors view as impeccable authorities, and don’t want to alienate. But surely Kolata need not join the brigade of women who have served as stenographic science writers over the past thirty years propagandizing bad dogma with their willing and flattering pens.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eggs Cause Strokes – Yet Another Reversal?

Oh no – can this be true? There is no sign of the actual article at the link now (on Sept 9) http://atherosclerosis-journal.com/. Update: Yes there is, see below the news item.

http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-heb-egg-cholesterol-smoking-20120814,0,1391259.story

No yolk: eating the whole egg as dangerous as smoking?

By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times
For the Booster Shots Blog
August 14, 2012, 10:34 a.m.
Just as you were ready to tuck into a nice three-egg omelet again, comforted by the reassuring news that eggs are not so bad for you, here comes a study warning that for those over 40, the number of egg yolks consumed per week accelerates the thickening of arteries almost as severely as does cigarette smoking.

Server, can you make that an egg-white omelet instead, please?

The study, published Tuesday in the journal Atherosclerosis, measured the carotid wall thickness — a key indicator of heart disease risk — of 1,231 patients referred to a vascular prevention clinic, and asked each to detail a wide range of their health habits, from smoking and exercise to their consumption of egg yolks. Just as smoking is often tallied as “pack-years” (the number of cigarette packs smoked per day for how many years), egg-yolk consumption was tallied as “egg yolk years” (the number of egg yolks consumed per week times the number of years they were eaten).

The study subjects were typically referred to the clinic after having suffered a clot-induced stroke or a transient ischemic attack — a “mini-stroke” in which symptoms may disappear quickly but which often presage a more serious stroke to come.

Smoking tobacco and eating egg yolks increased carotid wall thickness in similar fashion — which is to say, the rate of increase accelerated with each stair-step up in cigarette smoking or yolk consumption. By contrast, for those who did not smoke, or who rarely consumed egg yolks, carotid wall thickness increased after 40, but at a slow-steady rate.

For those whose consumption of whole eggs was in the highest 20%, the narrowing of the carotid artery was on average about two-thirds that of the study’s heaviest smokers.

“We believe our study makes it imperative to reassess the role of egg yolks, and dietary cholesterol in general, as a risk factor for coronary heart disease,” the study authors write.

In recent years, nutritionists have begun to agree with egg purveyors that chicken eggs — cheap and packed with protein — have gotten a bad rap as a dangerous source of cholesterol. Some studies have suggested that eggs may increase HDL, or “good cholesterol” that protects against heart disease, even as it contributes to the artery-clogging LDL cholesterol, making egg consumption something of a wash. And regular egg-eaters may form larger lipoprotein particles that help clear the blood of fat particles and are not as likely to settle in artery walls.

Still, the National Heart Blood and Lung Institute recommends that to limit their risk of developing heart disease, Americans limit their cholesterol intake to no more than 300 mg per day (an egg yolk has just over 200 mg), and eat no more than four whole eggs weekly, including those in baked goods or processed foods. Those who already have heart disease, diabetes or high LDL-cholesterol, or who have had a stroke, should limit their cholesterol to less than 200 mg per day.

Will research.

OK found the article. Full text is this:

http://www.atherosclerosis-journal.com/article/S0021-9150(12)00504-7/fulltext

Abstract
Background
Increasingly the potential harm from high cholesterol intake, and specifically from egg yolks, is considered insignificant. We therefore assessed total plaque area (TPA) in patients attending Canadian vascular prevention clinics to determine if the atherosclerosis burden, as a marker of arterial damage, was related to egg intake. To provide perspective on the magnitude of the effect, we also analysed the effect of smoking (pack-years).

Methods
Consecutive patients attending vascular prevention clinics at University Hospital had baseline measurement of TPA by duplex ultrasound, and filled out questionnaires regarding their lifestyle and medications, including pack-years of smoking, and the number of egg yolks consumed per week times the number of years consumed (egg-yolk years).

Results
Data were available in 1262 patients; mean (SD) age was 61.5 (14.8) years; 47% were women. Carotid plaque area increased linearly with age after age 40, but increased exponentially with pack-years of smoking and with egg-yolk years. Plaque area in patients consuming <2 eggs per week (n = 388) was 125 ± 129 mm2, versus 132 ± 142 mm2 in those consuming 3 or more eggs per week (n = 603); (p < 0.0001 after adjustment for age). In multiple regression, egg-yolk years remained significant after adjusting for coronary risk factors. Interpretation Our findings suggest that regular consumption of egg yolk should be avoided by persons at risk of cardiovascular disease. This hypothesis should be tested in a prospective study with more detailed information about diet, and other possible confounders such as exercise and waist circumference. Highlights ► Carotid total plaque area (TPA) increases linearly with age. ► TPA increases exponentially with smoking pack-years. ► TPA increases exponentially with egg-yolk years. ► The effect size of egg yolks appears to be approximately 2/3 that of smoking. ► Probably egg yolks should be avoided by persons at risk of vascular disease.

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1. Introduction
The underpinning of what used to be the step 2 diet and later became the diet recommended for CHD risk reduction by NCEP ATP III was a diet low in saturated fat (<7%) and dietary cholesterol (<200 mg) [1]. This diet if strictly applied tended to drive the consumer towards a more plant based diet with other potential advantages in terms of CHD risk reduction. In addition to saturated fat in meat (especially red meat) and full fat dairy products, eggs were also restricted due to their significant cholesterol content. Currently, however, serious doubts have been expressed over the relevance of these dietary components to cardiovascular disease [2], [3]. In the case of cholesterol much of the debate has been focused on the lack of clear consensus on whether egg consumption consistently raises serum cholesterol [4], [5], [6], [7], [8] or impacts negatively on postprandial events, including vascular reactivity [9], [10]. Most importantly the association of egg consumption with CHD events in cohort studies has been inconsistent [11], [12], [13], [14]. We recently reviewed the evidence that consumption of cholesterol and egg yolk should not be considered benign in patients at risk of vascular disease [15]. Much of the controversy in this area is about effects of egg yolk consumption on fasting lipids; however the main impact of diet is on the post-prandial state, not on the fasting state [15], [16]. To address the key issue of whether egg yolk intake relates to vascular damage we report the association of egg consumption with carotid plaque area assessed by ultrasound as an indication of atheromatous change in patients attending vascular clinics at an University Hospital. To provide perspective on the magnitude of the effect, we also analysed the effect of smoking (pack-years). Back to Article Outline 2. Methods Patients in the database had been referred to vascular prevention clinics since we routinely began measuring carotid total plaque area (TPA) in 1995 [17], [18]. Plaque area was measured as previously described [19]: each plaque identified in the common, external and internal carotid artery on both sides was measured in a longitudinal view, in the plane in which it was biggest. The perimeter of each plaque was traced using a cursor on the screen to measure the area of the plaque, and the sum of all plaque areas was TPA. In earlier years, data on smoking and egg consumption were recorded by patients into a lifestyle questionnaire at the time of referral. Since 2000, when our referrals were scheduled on an urgent basis soon after transient ischeamic attacks or strokes, a more limited set of lifestyle questions were asked at the time the history was obtained. These data were entered, along with the history, medications, physical examination and recommendations into fields in the database, from which clinic notes were generated. The responses for smoking and egg yolk consumption were used to compute pack-years of smoking (number of packs per day of cigarettes times the number of years of smoking) and egg-yolk years (number of egg yolks per week times number of years consumed). This was not done for alcohol consumption, licorice intake or exercise, because the textual responses were mainly not quantifiable (e.g. “quit drinking six years ago”, “plays golf twice a week”). All patients with complete data for each analysis were included. Egg yolks per week were computed by one observer from text entries in the lifestyle field of the database; for example one whole egg per month was entered as 0.25 eggs per week, consumption of 2 whole eggs per day was entered as 14 eggs per week. Egg whites or egg substitutes were counted as 0 yolks. For example, a person who consumed 3 eggs per week for 50 years would have a score of 150 egg-yolk years. Data were analysed anonymously from electronic medical records; patients provided signed consent to participate in the database, approved by the University of Western Ontario ethics board (review number 12107E). Data range checks were performed and data entry errors such as decimal errors were identified by scatter plots of age against each continuous variable; outliers were identified using the data label mode in SPSS, and such errors were corrected by re-entering the correct value. Analyses were performed using IBM SPSS 20. Mean and standard deviation were computed for normally distributed baseline variables, median and interquartile range for non-normally distributed variables, and percent for categorical variables. As total plaque area is highly skewed, it was normalized for multiple regression analysis by a cube root transformation (exponent 1/3), as previously described [20], [21]. Back to Article Outline 3. Results There were 2831 patients with data on egg yolk consumption. Of these, consent to use the data, and data on pack-years of smoking and carotid total plaque area were available in 1231 patients. The mean age was 62 years; 47% were women. Baseline characteristics of the patients are shown in Table 1. Table 2 shows the baseline characteristics of the patients grouped by quintiles of egg-yolk years. Table 1. Baseline characteristics of the subjects. Mean Std. deviation Age at first visit 61.50 14.82 Systolic pressure (mmHg) 141.75 23.01 Diastolic pressure (mmHg) 83.37 23.96 Total cholesterol (mmol/L) 4.91 1.21 Triglycerides (mmol/L) 1.90 1.28 HDL cholesterol (mmol/L) 1.33 0.44 Body mass index 27.38 6.44 Median Interquartile range Plaque area (mm2) 85.0 179.0 Smoking (pack-years) 5.0 25.0 Egg-yolk years 132 133 Percent Female 47.1% Diabetic 13.3% Table 2. Baseline characteristics of the participants by quintile of egg-yolk years. Egg-yolk years Quintile of egg-yolk years p <50 50–110 110–150 150–200 ≥200 Normally distributed variables: mean ± SD Age at first visit 55.70 ± 17.03 57.97 ± 16.32 56.82 ± 12.35 64.55 ± 12.00 69.77 ± 11.38 0.0001 Eggs per week 0.41 ± 0.44 1.37 ± 0.54 2.30 ± 0.53 2.76 ± 0.59 4.68 ± 3.03 0.0001 Systolic pressure (mmHg) 141 ± 24 139 ± 24 142 ± 22 144 ± 22 145 ± 23 0.001 Diastolic pressure (mmHg) 83 ± 12 82 ± 12 85 ± 13 82 ± 13 80 ± 13 0.001 Total cholesterol (mmol/L) 4.93 ± 1.16 4.94 ± 1.17 5.0 ± 1.14 4.90 ± 1.16 4.81 ± 1.19 0.47 Triglycerides (mmol/L) 1.88 ± 1.41 1.84 ± 1.08 1.96 ± 1.31 1.94 ± 1.40 1.85 ± 1.17 0.77 HDL cholesterol (mmol/L) 1.34 ± 0.48 1.33 ± 0.42 1.33 ± 0.42 1.29 ± 0.42 1.35 ± 0.45 0.58 LDL cholesterol (mmol/L) 2.76 ± 1.04 2.75 ± 1.02 2.81 ± 1.09 2.73 ± 1.19 2.67 ± 1.06 0.62 Body mass index 27.62 ± 5.62 27.42 ± 5.53 28.71 ± 9.91 27.00 ± 4.81 26.31 ± 4.48 0.001 Plaque area (mm2) 101.45 ± 125.64 110.35 ± 129.02 113.58 ± 138.82 135.76 ± 137.67 175.77 ± 147.61 0.0001 Age-dependent variables: age-adjusted marginal mean ± SE Smoking (pack-years) 14.14 ± 1.37 14.37 ± 1.40 16.57 ± 1.25 13.88 ± 1.30 17.00 ± 1.20 0.24 Categorical variables: percent Female 48.6% 51.7% 44.8% 45.0% 46.7% 0.56 Diabetic 11.8% 14.5% 11.8% 13.4% 14.6% 0.80 Fig. 1A shows that carotid atherosclerotic plaque burden increases linearly after age 40, among Canadian patients referred to cardiovascular prevention clinics. Online Supplemental Fig. 2 shows the distribution of weekly egg yolk consumption, and of pack-years of smoking and egg-yolk years. As 39.9% of patients never smoked, smoking groups were divided for analysis not into quintiles, but into roughly equal groups among those who ever smoked, using groupings that made sense clinically: 0 pack-years (39.9%), >0 < 10 pack-years 17.8%, 10–20 pack-years 13.1%, 20–40 pack-years 17.6%, >40 pack-years 11.6%. Fig. 1B and C shows that compared to age, both tobacco smoking and egg yolk consumption accelerate atherosclerosis, in a similar fashion: the increase in plaque area is linear with age, but it is exponential with smoking history and egg consumption. Curve fitting with the cases that had non-zero values for egg yolks and smoking showed that an exponential fit was better than a linear fit. The total plaque area among people who consumed 2 or fewer eggs per week (n = 388) was 125 ± 129.62 mm2, whereas it was 132.26 ± 142.48 mm2 in those consuming 3 or more eggs per week (n = 603). Because plaque area increases steeply with age, as shown in Fig. 1, it was important to adjust for age; this difference was statistically significant after adjustment for age in a General Linear Model (p < 0.0001). In linear multiple regression analysis (Table 3), egg-yolk years remained a significant predictor of baseline TPA after adjustment for sex, serum total cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, diabetes, body mass index and pack-years of smoking. As reflected in the Beta (proportion of explained variance), egg-yolk years was more predictive than fasting cholesterol or BMI. Triglycerides, HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol were not significant predictors of baseline TPA in stepwise linear regression (Online Supplemental Table 4). View Large Image Download to PowerPoint Fig. 1 Carotid total plaque area: effect of age, smoking (pack-years) and egg yolks (egg-yolk years) panel A shows how plaque area increases by age groups in all patients, including smokers and eaters of eggs; panel B shows plaque area by pack-years of smoking (number of packs of cigarettes per day times number of years smoked); panel C shows plaque area by quintiles of egg-yolk years (number of eggs per week times number of years consumed). Plaque area increases linearly with age, but exponentially with smoking and egg yolk consumption. Table 3. Multiple regression analysis. Egg-yolk years remained a significant predictor of carotid plaque area after adjustment for sex, total cholesterol, pack-years of smoking, systolic blood pressure, diabetes and body mass index. (Age is incorporated into pack-years and egg-yolk years). Coefficientsa Model Unstandardized coefficients Standardized coefficients t Sig. B Std. error Beta 1 (Constant) 2.073 0.460 4.502 0.000 Female sex −0.803 0.113 −0.184 −7.110 0.000 Total cholesterol −0.171 0.046 −0.095 −3.712 0.000 Systolic blood pressure 0.023 0.002 0.247 9.767 0.000 Smoking (pack-years) 0.031 0.003 0.280 10.930 0.000 Diabetes 0.914 0.161 0.144 5.669 0.000 Body mass index −0.033 0.009 −0.097 −3.828 0.000 Egg-yolk years 0.002 0.000 0.124 4.897 0.000 R2 = 0.277. aDependent variable: baseline plaque area (normalized by a cube root transformation). There was no significant correlation between egg yolk consumption and smoking history: R = 0.046; p = 0.10; the partial correlation, adjusted for age, was also not significant: R = 0.01; p = 0.70. Back to Article Outline 4. Interpretation Our data suggest a strong association between egg consumption and carotid plaque burden. The exponential nature of the increase in TPA by quintiles of egg consumption follows a similar pattern to that of cigarette smoking. The effect of the upper quintile of egg consumption was equivalent in terms of atheroma development to 2/3 of the effect of the upper quintile of smoking. In view of the almost unanimous agreement on the damage caused by smoking, we believe our study makes it imperative to reassess the role of egg yolks, and dietary cholesterol in general, as a risk factor for CHD. At present many jurisdictions include no consideration of cholesterol in their guidelines including the European Union, Canada, India, Korea, New Zealand [3]. Part of the reason is the inconsistency in the data relating change in cholesterol intake to change in blood levels. Early on, analysis of the data at the time, independently by Keys and Hegsted, lead to the development of predictive equations in which dietary cholesterol was recognized to determine a proportion, albeit limited, of the change in serum cholesterol [22], [23]. These equations formed the basis for subsequent dietary advice. Since then the data have been mixed with some studies supporting an increase in serum cholesterol with cholesterol feeding [7], [8], [24] while others have not [4], [6]. Notably egg consumption has resulted in divergent effects on serum cholesterol. In some studies raising serum cholesterol [24], [25], [26] and in other studies being without effect [3], [4], [9], [27], [28]. In addition, similarly to saturated fat, dietary cholesterol has also been shown to raise HDL-C [26], [29], [30]. Part of the explanation for the differences in lipid responses may relate to genetic differences, such as in the apo-E4 polymorphism with carriers of apoE4 showing higher fasting LDL-C levels [31] and differences in the ABCG 5/8 sterol transporter where ABCG 5 polymorphism increasers sterol absorption [32], [33], [34]. This situation is further complicated by the fact that cholesterol feeding may reduce the efficiency of cholesterol absorption [35] and depress hepatic cholesterol biosynthesis [36] so confounding a clear dose response. However none of these considerations negate the possible existence of significant vulnerable populations. Indeed a meta-analysis involving 395 experiments among 129 groups of individuals demonstrated that avoiding 200 mg/d dietary cholesterol, the amount similar to that found in a large egg, reduced LDL-C by 0.10 mmol/L [37]. The outcome of increased vascular damage as demonstrated in the present study, or hard outcomes, including CHD events or deaths, assessed in relation to eggs, remains the critical issue. Here again the literature which is derived from cohort studies is divided. Analysis of the Health Professionals and Nurses Health studies by Hu and colleagues noted no overall effect of egg consumption on CHD events and mortality after 8 years of follow up, among participants who remained non-diabetic [11]. However, among participants who became diabetic during follow-up, daily egg consumption doubled CHD mortality [11]. The same pattern was seen in another large population-based study: among participants who became diabetic during follow-up, intake of eggs was associated with a doubling of cardiovascular risk [38]. Extending these findings further, a later assessment of the Physicians Health Study demonstrated a relation of egg consumption to total mortality and confirmed an even stronger relation to mortality in those with diabetes [13], and a Greek study in diabetics showed that daily egg consumption increased coronary risk more than 5-fold [39]. In view of the predicted increase in the incidence of diabetes both in western cultures and in the developing world the deleterious effect of egg consumption in diabetes is of particular concern. Furthermore there is also emerging evidence that egg consumption itself may be related to increased diabetes incidence [40]. Therefore egg yolk consumption remains a public health concern. The study weakness includes its observational nature, the lack of data on exercise, waist circumference and dietary intake of saturated fat and sources of cholesterol other than eggs, and the dependence on self-reporting of egg consumption and smoking history, common to many dietary studies. Study strengths include the large number of patients on whom data were available, the significant egg consumption despite recommendations to high risk individuals to limit egg consumption and most importantly the use of carotid plaque burden as the study end point rather than risk factors such as fasting cholesterol levels. Carotid plaque area strongly predicts cardiovascular risk. We reported in 2002 [19] that after adjustment for age, sex, systolic blood pressure, diabetes, serum total cholesterol, plasma total homocysteine and treatment of blood pressure and cholesterol, patients in the top quartile of plaque area had 3.4 times higher 5-year risk of stroke, death or myocardial infarction compared to patients in the lowest quartile. These findings were corroborated in the Tromsø study [41], a population-based study in Norway. A meta-analysis by Inaba et al. in this journal [42] confirmed that plaque area is a stronger predictor of cardiovascular events than carotid intima-media thickness. We conclude that the prevailing tendency to ignore dietary cholesterol as a risk factor for coronary heart disease requires reassessment, including the consumption of cholesterol from eggs. Although low fat egg dishes may be less harmful than meals high in both saturated fat and cholesterol (even if the latter have somewhat lower cholesterol content), meals high in cholesterol should not be consumed regularly by those at risk for cardiovascular diseases, as dietary cholesterol itself is harmful, and potentiates the effect of saturated fats [15]. Increasingly studies are showing that vegetable oils and plant protein sources low in cholesterol and saturated fats confer benefits in terms of heart disease risk and diabetes incidence [43], [44] with improvements in the blood lipid profile [45]. This approach to diet has been captured in the idealized description of the Mediterranean diet now considered by many as the ideal diet for CHD risk reduction. Ansel Keys, who first drew attention to the Mediterranean diet, commented that “the heart of this diet is mainly vegetarian, and differs from the American and Northern European diets in that it is much lower in meat and dairy products and uses fruit for dessert” [46]. Our study supports a return to earlier concepts of the therapeutic diet, including a continued prohibition on high dietary cholesterol intakes. Back to Article Outline 5. Conclusion Our findings suggest that regular consumption of egg yolk should be avoided by persons at risk of cardiovascular disease. This hypothesis should be tested in a prospective study with more detailed information about diet, and other possible confounders such as exercise and waist circumference. Back to Article Outline Acknowledgements Carotid plaque area measurements were performed by Maria DiCicco RVT and Janine DesRoches RVT. Data on egg consumption were converted from text fields in the database to egg-yolk years by Timothy Spence during a summer job at the Stroke Prevention & Atherosclerosis Research Centre. The maintenance of the database was made possible by funding from the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario, including grant numbers T2956, T5017, NA4990, T5704, NA6018, and NA5912. It was also supported by donations to the Stroke Prevention & Atherosclerosis Research Centre. Back to Article Outline Appendix A. Supplementary material download text Back to Article Outline References D'Agostino RB, Vasan RS, Pencina MJ, et al. Executive summary of the third report of the national cholesterol education program (NCEP) expert panel on detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood cholesterol in adults (adult treatment panel III) general cardiovascular risk profile for use in primary care: the Framingham heart study. J Am Med Assoc. 2001 May 16;285(19):2486–2497 View In Article Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):535–546 View In ArticleCrossRef Fernandez ML, Calle M. Revisiting dietary cholesterol recommendations: does the evidence support a limit of 300 mg/d?. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2010 Nov;12(6):377–383 View In ArticleCrossRef Harman NL, Leeds AR, Griffin BA. Increased dietary cholesterol does not increase plasma low density lipoprotein when accompanied by an energy-restricted diet and weight loss. Eur J Nutr. 2008 Sep;47(6):287–293 View In ArticleCrossRef Kummerow FA, Kim Y, Hull J, et al. The influence of egg consumption on the serum cholesterol level in human subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 1977 May;30(5):664–673 View In ArticleMEDLINE Knopp RH, Retzlaff BM, Walden CE, et al. A double-blind, randomized, controlled trial of the effects of two eggs per day in moderately hypercholesterolemic and combined hyperlipidemic subjects taught the NCEP step I diet. J Am Coll Nutr. 1997 Dec;16(6):551–561 View In Article Ginsberg HN, Karmally W, et al. Increases in dietary cholesterol are associated with modest increases in both LDL and HDL cholesterol in healthy young women. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1995 Feb;15(2):169–178 View In ArticleMEDLINECrossRef Ginsberg HN, Karmally W, Siddiqui M, et al. A dose-response study of the effects of dietary cholesterol on fasting and postprandial lipid and lipoprotein metabolism in healthy young men. Arterioscler Thromb. 1994 Apr;14(4):576–586 View In ArticleMEDLINE Katz DL, Evans MA, et al. Egg consumption and endothelial function: a randomized controlled crossover trial. Int J Cardiol. 2005 Mar 10;99(1):65–70 View In ArticleAbstractFull Text Full-Text PDF (108 KB) CrossRef Njike V, Faridi Z, Dutta S, Gonzalez-Simon AL, Katz DL. Daily egg consumption in hyperlipidemic adults–effects on endothelial function and cardiovascular risk. Nutr J. 2010;9:28 View In ArticleCrossRef Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Rimm EB, et al. A prospective study of egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women. J Am Med Assoc. 1999 Apr 21;281(15):1387–1394 View In Article Dawber TR, Nickerson RJ, Brand FN, Pool J. Eggs, serum cholesterol, and coronary heart disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 1982 Oct;36(4):617–625 View In ArticleMEDLINE Djousse L, Gaziano JM. Egg consumption in relation to cardiovascular disease and mortality: the physicians' health study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Apr;87(4):964–969 View In Article Djousse L, Gaziano JM. Egg consumption and risk of heart failure in the physicians' health study. Circulation. 2008 Jan 29;117(4):512–516 View In ArticleCrossRef Spence JD, Jenkins DJ, Davignon J. Dietary cholesterol and egg yolks: not for patients at risk of vascular disease. Can J Cardiol. 2010 Nov;26(9):e336–e339 View In ArticleCrossRef Spence JD. Fasting lipids: the carrot in the snowman. Can J Cardiol. 2003;19:890–892 View In Article Spence JD. Technology insight: ultrasound measurement of carotid plaque–patient management, genetic research, and therapy evaluation. Nat Clin Pract Neurol. 2006 Nov;2(11):611–619 View In ArticleCrossRef Spence JD, Hackam DG. Treating arteries instead of risk factors. A paradigm change in management of atherosclerosis. Stroke. 2010 Apr 22;41(6):1193–1199 View In ArticleCrossRef Spence JD, Eliasziw M, DiCicco M, Hackam DG, Galil R, Lohmann T. Carotid plaque area: a tool for targeting and evaluating vascular preventive therapy. Stroke. 2002;33:2916–2922 View In ArticleCrossRef Spence JD, Barnett PA, Bulman DE, Hegele RA. An approach to ascertain probands with a non traditional risk factor for carotid atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis. 1999;144:429–434 View In ArticleAbstractFull Text Full-Text PDF (84 KB) CrossRef Lanktree MB, Hegele RA, Schork NJ, Spence JD. Extremes of unexplained variation as a phenotype: an efficient approach for genome-wide association studies of cardiovascular disease. Circ Cardiovasc Genet. 2010 Apr;3(2):215–221 View In ArticleCrossRef Keys A. Serum cholesterol response to dietary cholesterol. Am J Clin Nutr. 1984 Aug;40(2):351–359 View In ArticleMEDLINE Hegsted DM, McGandy RB, Myers ML, Stare FJ. Quantitative effects of dietary fat on serum cholesterol in man. Am J Clin Nutr. 1965 Nov;17(5):281–295 View In ArticleMEDLINE Weggemans RM, Zock PL, Katan MB. Dietary cholesterol from eggs increases the ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in humans: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 May;73(5):885–891 View In ArticleMEDLINE Nakamura Y, Okamura T, Tamaki S, et al. Egg consumption, serum cholesterol, and cause-specific and all-cause mortality: the national integrated project for prospective observation of non-communicable disease and its trends in the aged, 1980 (NIPPON DATA80). Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jul;80(1):58–63 View In ArticleMEDLINE Beynen AC, Katan MB. Effect of egg yolk feeding on the concentration and composition of serum lipoproteins in man. Atherosclerosis. 1985 Feb;54(2):157–166 View In ArticleAbstract Full-Text PDF (846 KB) CrossRef Caggiula AW, Mustad VA. Effects of dietary fat and fatty acids on coronary artery disease risk and total and lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations: epidemiologic studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 May;65(5 Suppl.):1597S–1610S View In ArticleMEDLINE McNamara DJ. Cholesterol intake and plasma cholesterol: an update. J Am Coll Nutr. 1997;16(6):530–534 View In Article Mutungi G, Ratliff J, Puglisi M, et al. Dietary cholesterol from eggs increases plasma HDL cholesterol in overweight men consuming a carbohydrate-restricted diet. J Nutr. 2008 Feb;138(2):272–276 View In Article Herron KL, Vega-Lopez S, Conde K, et al. Pre-menopausal women, classified as hypo- or hyperresponders, do not alter their LDL/HDL ratio following a high dietary cholesterol challenge. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002 Jun;21(3):250–258 View In Article Davignon J, Gregg RE, Sing CF. Apolipoprotein E polymorphism and atherosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis. 1988 Jan;8(1):1–21 View In ArticleMEDLINE Hegele RA, Robinson JF. ABC transporters and sterol absorption. Curr Drug Targets Cardiovasc Haematol Disord. 2005 Feb;5(1):31–37 View In ArticleMEDLINECrossRef Wang J, Joy T, Mymin D, Frohlich J, Hegele RA. Phenotypic heterogeneity of sitosterolemia. J Lipid Res. 2004 Dec;45(12):2361–2367 View In Article Herron KL, McGrane MM, Waters D, et al. The ABCG5 polymorphism contributes to individual responses to dietary cholesterol and carotenoids in eggs. J Nutr. 2006 May;136(5):1161–1165 View In Article Ostlund RE, Bosner MS, Stenson WF. Cholesterol absorption efficiency declines at moderate dietary doses in normal human subjects. J Lipid Res. 1999 Aug;40(8):1453–1458 View In Article Jones PJ, Pappu AS, Hatcher L, Li ZC, Illingworth DR, Connor WE. Dietary cholesterol feeding suppresses human cholesterol synthesis measured by deuterium incorporation and urinary mevalonic acid levels. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1996 Oct;16(10):1222–1228 View In ArticleMEDLINECrossRef Clarke R, Frost C, Collins R, Appleby P, Peto R. Dietary lipids and blood cholesterol: quantitative meta-analysis of metabolic ward studies. Br Med J. 1997 Jan 11;314(7074):112–117 View In Article Qureshi AI, Suri FK, Ahmed S, Nasar A, Divani AA, Kirmani JF. Regular egg consumption does not increase the risk of stroke and cardiovascular diseases. Med Sci Monit. 2007 Jan;13(1):CR1–CR8 View In ArticleMEDLINE Trichopoulou A, Psaltopoulou T, Orfanos P, Trichopoulos D. Diet and physical activity in relation to overall mortality amongst adult diabetics in a general population cohort. J Intern Med. 2006 Jun;259(6):583–591 View In Article Djousse L, Gaziano JM, Buring JE, Lee IM. Egg consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in men and women. Diabetes Care. 2009 Feb;32(2):295–300 View In ArticleCrossRef Johnsen SH, Mathiesen EB, Joakimsen O, et al. Carotid atherosclerosis is a stronger predictor of myocardial infarction in women than in men: a 6-year follow-up study of 6226 persons: the Tromso Study. Stroke. 2007 Nov;38(11):2873–2880 View In ArticleCrossRef Inaba Y, Chen JA, Bergmann SR. Carotid plaque, compared with carotid intima-media thickness, more accurately predicts coronary artery disease events: a meta-analysis. Atherosclerosis. 2011 Jun 18;220(1):128–133 View In ArticleAbstractFull Text Full-Text PDF (272 KB) CrossRef Halton TL, Willett WC, Liu S, et al. Low-carbohydrate-diet score and the risk of coronary heart disease in women. N Engl J Med. 2006 Nov 9;355(19):1991–2002 View In Article Halton TL, Liu S, Manson JE, Hu FB. Low-carbohydrate-diet score and risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb;87(2):339–346 View In Article Jenkins DJ, Wong JM, Kendall CW, et al. The effect of a plant-based low-carbohydrate (“Eco-Atkins”) diet on body weight and blood lipid concentrations in hyperlipidemic subjects. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Jun 8;169(11):1046–1054 View In ArticleCrossRef Keys A. Mediterranean diet and public health: personal reflections. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Jun;61(6 Suppl.):1321S–1323S then end Show Hide but it doesnt take

Have to study this carefully.

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Germany’s Strongest Man Is a Vegan

Patrik Baboumian Feels Better Than Ever, He Says

Strongman Patrik Baboumian was born in Iran and lives in Germany, where in 1999 at the age of 20 he won the German Junior Bodybuilding title. In 2011 the 116 kg loglifter was placed fourth in the world loglifting championship with 185 kg, a German record. In May 2011 he lifted a log of 190 kg in winning a local competition in Turku, Finland. His other personal bests are: Bench 215kg, Squat 310kg, Deadlift 360kg.

After a number of years as a vegetarian Baboumian turned vegan last year, and became the model for a campaign by PETA advocating a vegan diet. On his blog he has posted on May 31 that “Operation going vegan is going extremely well!
Its 90% done! I’m looking forward to cutting out the whey-protein in a few weeks, which will result in a totally vegan nutrition plan for me! Feeling great!”

On the topic of “Plant Power” he has written

When I started the vegetarian diet 2005 I knew little about the effect it would have on my performance and strength. The reasons for my decision where mainly based on my empathy for all kinds of non human animals and the mental conflict I felt, when consuming meat, which would mean that an animal would have to lose its live for my appetite. Expecting at least a slight inverse effect on my training performance I was amazed by the great gains in lean body-mass and strength I got with the meat-free diet. 2011 after winning the German strongman title I was ready to take the next step and switch to a vegan diet.

As an strength athlete I have to make sure that my body gets all three macro-nutrients in feasible amounts. Specially protein is a key factor for the development of the type of body that is needed to be able to endure the gruelling events you have to face as a strongman.

My main protein sources are: soy-milk, soy-protein-powder, tofu, nuts and beans. To get the energy I need for my daily training sessions I use carbohydrates out of: rice, potato, oats and lots of fruits and greens and vegetables. I use shakes and smoothies to get a lot of my calories in liquid form, because it’s hard for me to eat the amounts of calories I need to gain weight and maintain the development of physical strength.

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Dead Elephant Whisperer is Saluted by His Herd

Rogue elephants Tamed by Lawrence Anthony Walk Miles to Stage Memorial

Moving Tribute Suggests Uncanny Sense at Work

In 1998, prize-winning conservationist Anthony (Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo) purchased Thula Thula, "5,000 acres of pristine bush in the heart of Zululand, South Africa," transforming a rundown hunters' camp (dating to the 19th century) into a wild animal preserve and a center for eco-tourism. In 1999, Anthony agreed to take in a herd of "troubled" wild elephants, the first seen in the area in more than a century. Winning their trust, becoming deeply attached, and even learning how they communicate (deep, rumbling "whispers," sensed rather than heard), Anthony took enormous risks in the form of enraged elephants, distrustful neighbors, and poachers. Over time Anthony succeeds in his larger goal, winning support from the six Zulu tribes whose land borders the reserve ("most Zulus ... had never set eyes on an elephant"); they eventually join Anthony's venture as partners in a larger conservation trust. An inspiring, multifaceted account, Anthony's book offers fascinating insights into the lives of wild elephants in the broader context of Zulu culture in post-Apartheid South Africa. 8 page color photo insert. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Here is a rather moving story on the theme of Elephants Never Forget, where Lawrence Anthony, known as the Elephant Whisperer, died, and the herd of elephants he had rescued somehow sensed it a long distance away (or it could possibly be a huge coincidence) and came to hold a memorial for him in the elephant manner for two days.

So man can communicate emotionally with anaimals. Is that news? Should it be? Sad comment on insensitivity of most humans. But did they sense his death across miles? If so on what plane?

Wild Elephants Gather Inexplicably Mourn Death of Elephant Whisperer Lawrence Anthony

(From Delightmakers.com)

Author and legendary conservationist Lawrence Anthony died March 2. His family tells of a solemn procession of Elephants that defies human explanation.

For 12 hours, two herds of wild South African elephants slowly made their way through the Zululand bush until they reached the house of late author Lawrence Anthony, the conservationist who saved their lives.The formerly violent, rogue elephants, destined to be shot a few years ago as pests, were rescued and rehabilitated by Anthony, who had grown up in the bush and was known as the “Elephant Whisperer.”

For two days the herds loitered at Anthony’s rural compound on the vast Thula Thula game reserve in the South African KwaZulu – to say good-bye to the man they loved. But how did they know he had died? Known for his unique ability to calm traumatized elephants, Anthony had become a legend. He is the author of three books, Babylon Ark, detailing his efforts to rescue the animals at Baghdad Zoo during the Iraqi war, the forthcoming The Last Rhinos, and his bestselling The Elephant Whisperer.

There are two elephant herds at Thula Thula. According to his son Dylan, both arrived at the Anthony family compound shortly after Anthony’s death.“They had not visited the house for a year and a half and it must have taken them about 12 hours to make the journey,” Dylan is quoted in various local news accounts. “The first herd arrived on Sunday and the second herd, a day later. They all hung around for about two days before making their way back into the bush.”Elephants have long been known to mourn their dead. In India, baby elephants often are raised with a boy who will be their lifelong “mahout.” The pair develop legendary bonds – and it is not
uncommon for one to waste away without a will to live after the death of the other.

A line of elephants approaching the Anthony house, but these are wild elephants in the 21st century, not some Rudyard Kipling novel.The first herd to arrive at Thula Thula several years ago were violent. They hated humans. Anthony found himself fighting a desperate battle for their survival and their trust, which he detailed in The Elephant Whisperer:“It was 4:45 a.m. and I was standing in front of Nana, an enraged wild elephant, pleading with her in desperation. Both our lives depended on it. The only thing separating us was an 8,000-volt electric fence that she was preparing to flatten and make her escape.“Nana, the matriarch of her herd, tensed her enormous frame and flared her ears.“’Don’t do it, Nana,’ I said, as calmly as I could. She stood there, motionless but tense. The rest of the herd froze.“’This is your home now,’ I continued. ‘Please don’t do it, girl.’I felt her eyes boring into me.

Anthony, Nana and calf “’They’ll kill you all if you break out. This is your home now. You have no need to run any more.’“Suddenly, the absurdity of the situation struck me,” Anthony writes. “Here I was in pitch darkness, talking to a wild female elephant with a baby, the most dangerous possible combination, as if we were having a friendly chat. But I meant every word. ‘You will all die if you go. Stay here. I will be here with you and it’s a good place.’“She took another step forward. I could see her tense up again, preparing to snap the electric wire and be out, the rest of the herd smashing after her in a flash.“I was in their path, and would only have seconds to scramble out of their way and climb the nearest tree. I wondered if I would be fast enough to avoid being trampled. Possibly not.“Then something happened between Nana and me, some tiny spark of recognition, flaring for the briefest of moments. Then it was gone. Nana turned and melted into the bush. The rest of the herd followed. I couldn’t explain what had happened between us, but it gave me the
first glimmer of hope since the elephants had first thundered into my life.”

Elephants gathering at the Anthony home It had all started several weeks earlier with a phone call from an elephant welfare organization. Would Anthony be interested in adopting a problem herd of wild elephants? They lived on a game reserve 600 miles away and were “troublesome,” recalled Anthony.“They had a tendency to break out of reserves and the owners wanted to get rid of them fast. If we didn’t take them, they would be shot.“The woman explained, ‘The matriarch is an amazing escape artist and has worked out how to break through electric fences. She just twists the wire around her tusks until it snaps, or takes the pain and smashes through.’“’Why me?’ I asked.“’I’ve heard you have a way with animals. You’re right for them. Or maybe they’re right for you.’”What followed was heart-breaking. One of the females and her baby were shot and killed in the round-up, trying to evade capture.

The French version of “The Elephant Whisperer”“When they arrived, they were thumping the inside of the trailer like a gigantic drum. We sedated them with a pole-sized syringe, and once they had calmed down, the door slid open and the matriarch emerged, followed by her baby bull, three females and an 11-year-old bull.”Last off was the 15-year-old son of the dead mother. “He stared at us,” writes Anthony, “flared his ears and with a trumpet of rage, charged, pulling up just short of the fence in front of us.“His mother and baby sister had been shot before his eyes, and here he was, just a teenager, defending his herd. David, my head ranger, named him Mnumzane, which in Zulu means ‘Sir.’ We christened the matriarch Nana, and the second female-in-command, the most feisty, Frankie, after my wife.“We had erected a giant enclosure within the reserve to keep them safe until they became calm enough to move out into the reserve proper.“Nana gathered her clan, loped up to the fence and stretched out her trunk, touching the electric wires. The 8,000-volt charge sent a jolt shuddering through her bulk. She backed off. Then, with her family in tow, she strode the entire perimeter of the enclosure, pointing her trunk at the wire to check for vibrations from the electric current.

“As I went to bed that night, I noticed the elephants lining up along the fence, facing out towards their former home. It looked ominous. I was woken several hours later by one of the reserve’s rangers, shouting, ‘The elephants have gone! They’ve broken out!’ The two adult elephants had worked as a team to fell a tree, smashing it onto the electric fence and then charging out of the enclosure.
“I scrambled together a search party and we raced to the border of the game reserve, but we were too late. The fence was down and the animals had broken out.
“They had somehow found the generator that powered the electric fence around the reserve. After trampling it like a tin can, they had pulled the concrete-embedded fence posts out of the ground like matchsticks, and headed north.”
The reserve staff chased them – but had competition.
“We met a group of locals carrying large caliber rifles, who claimed the elephants were ‘fair game’ now. On our radios we heard the wildlife authorities were issuing elephant rifles to staff. It was now a simple race against time.”
Anthony managed to get the herd back onto Thula Thula property, but problems had just begun:

“Their bid for freedom had, if anything, increased their resentment at being kept in captivity. Nana watched my every move, hostility seeping from every pore, her family behind her. There was no doubt that sooner or later they were going to make another break for freedom.
“Then, in a flash, came the answer. I would live with the herd. To save their lives, I would stay with them, feed them, talk to them. But, most importantly, be with them day and night. We all had to get to know each other.”
It worked, as the book describes in detail, notes the London Daily Mail newspaper.
Anthony was later offered another troubled elephant – one that was all alone because the rest of her herd had been shot or sold, and which feared humans. He had to start the process all over again.
And as his reputation spread, more “troublesome” elephants were brought to Thula Thula.

So, how after Anthony’s death, did the reserve’s elephants — grazing miles away in distant parts of the park — know?
“A good man died suddenly,” says Rabbi Leila Gal Berner, Ph.D., “and from miles and miles away, two herds of elephants, sensing that they had lost a beloved human friend, moved in a solemn, almost ‘funereal’ procession to make a call on the bereaved family at the deceased man’s home.”

“If there ever were a time, when we can truly sense the wondrous ‘interconnectedness of all beings,’ it is when we reflect on the elephants of Thula Thula. A man’s heart’s stops, and hundreds of elephants’ hearts are grieving. This man’s oh-so-abundantly loving heart offered healing to these elephants, and now, they came to pay loving homage to their friend.”

His sons say that their father was a remarkable man who lived his life to the fullest and never looked back on any choices he made.

He leaves behind his wife Francoise, his two sons, Dylan and Jason, and two grandsons, Ethan and Brogan.

Lawrence will be missed by all. You can buy The Elephant Whisperer book through Amazon .

This story, written by Rob Kirby of Beliefnet , has touched so many of us so very deeply that we have decided to put a call out to all those who would like to salute this amazing man, Lawrence Anthony. We thought that we might make a beautiful tribute to him and invite you all to be part of it. If you would like to upload your favourite elephant related photograph, poem, song, video or a few words of your own. Please fill in the form below. We will create a project page with all of your contributions and then turn them into a beautiful collection in his honour to give to the family.

Even the scientifically minded are surely slowly forced to the conclusion that there is some kind of communication between living things beyond the five senses, however faint. The question as always is, What is the sixth sense and on what plane does it operate?

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In Home HIV Tests Now Available to Mislead

HIV Boys Pull Another Fast One With Frightening Easy Test

Chances of False Positive About 1 in 18, or 63,000 People In All

But Even Accurate Tests By Definition Useless and Dangerous

The Times boosted the July 4 celebrations of those leading the biggest scientific scam in history today with a top right front page story by its resident fellow traveler in HIV/AIDS, Donald G. McNeil, entitled Rapid H.I.V. Home Test Wins Federal Approval.

The story bears close examination as a new high point in the HIV promotion crowd’s success in stirring up trouble for which they ask vast funding to deal with.

One interesting aspect is that as stated (after the report was corrected) the tests are quite insensitive to HIV antibodies, so they are somewhat inaccurate in responding to true positives. The 92% accuracy for positives means that 8% of positive results will register negative. It’s 4999 in 5000 accuracy for negatives means (when the arithmetic is added up) that about 5 per cent of the positives it registers will be false. That is, 1 in 20 will be wrong.

This follows from the fact that CDC now tells us that as many as 1.2 million people are genuinely positive in a population of 310 million, so on average in a random sample of 31,000 people 120 will be genuinely positive, whatever that means (actually nothing in medical terms on the basis of the correct science of HIV/AIDS, rather than the inaccurate myth peddled by the handsome and well dressed (great pin stripe that, Anthony!) director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and relayed by the trusting Gwen Ifill of the PBS Newshour tonight.

While the test will capture 92% or 110 out of those 120 genuine positives, the 4999/5000 accurate in-home test will also record 6 false positives out of 31000 truly negative results. So therefore it will record an false positive 6 out of 110 times, or about 5 per cent of the time. Over 5 per cent of the positives will be false, or 1 in 20.

In other words, your chances of actually being genuinely HIV (antibody) positive if it signals a positive result are 95%.

Leaving aside the fact that any concern over a positive result would be grossly misplaced, since to have antibodies to HIV means as the best research has shown that you have effectively banished all HIV from your body, so you are really HIV negative for sure, this is still not a very helpful accuracy rate. After all, if the rate of false positives among negatives is 1 in 5000, this means that the total number of false positives in the entire 308.8 million population will be 308,800,000/5000, which is 61,760.

So the new test has the potential to cause a wave of needless harmful concern among over 61,000 people and this may even extend to triggering suicides.

But of course on the positive side it will reap millions for the makers and entrench the prevailing nonsensical paradigm even more deeply into the public consciousness.

A Happy July 4 for some, for sure.

July 3, 2012
Rapid H.I.V. Home Test Wins Federal Approval
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.
After decades of controversy, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new H.I.V. test on Tuesday that for the first time makes it possible for Americans to learn in the privacy of their homes whether they are infected.

The availability of an H.I.V. test as easy to use as a home-pregnancy kit is yet another step in the normalization of a disease that was once seen as a mark of shame and a death sentence.

The OraQuick test, by OraSure Technologies, uses a mouth swab and gives results in 20 to 40 minutes. A previous test sold over the counter required a user to prick a finger and mail a drop of dried blood to a lab.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the longtime AIDS researcher and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called the new test a “positive step forward” and one that could help bring the 30-year-old epidemic under control.

Getting an infected person onto antiretroviral drugs lowers by as much as 96 percent the chance that he or she will transmit the virus to someone else, so testing and treatment have become crucial to prevention. About 20 percent of the 1.2 million infected Americans do not know they have the disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, and about 50,000 more get infected each year.

Dr. Robert Gallo, who headed the National Institutes of Health lab that developed the first American blood test for the virus in 1984, called the F.D.A. approval “wonderful because it will get more people into care.”

The idea of a home test has long been mired in controversy. The first application for one was made in 1987, and the F.D.A. has been considering OraSure’s simple mouth-swab test since 2005.

But the history of AIDS and the human immunodeficiency virus that causes it are unique. AIDS emerged in the 1980s wrapped in a shroud of stigma. It was spread by sex, drug injections and blood transfusions. Along with hemophiliacs, heroin users and Haitians, the most vocal group of early victims was gay men, who were then in the throes of a loud and defiant liberation movement.

Because merely being tested for H.I.V. was seen as tantamount to being publicly revealed as gay or addicted to drugs, and because an H.I.V.-positive result was a death sentence, groups like the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and newspapers like The New York Native advised their members and readers to shun testing until ironclad guarantees of anonymity were put in place.

Alarmists predicted a wave of suicides if home tests were made available. At hearings, advocates for AIDS patients handed out copies of an obituary of a San Francisco man who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge after learning he was infected. C.D.C. officials warned their F.D.A. counterparts that home testing could lead to a surge of new patients that would swamp overburdened health clinics, according to an F.D.A. document.

So, even as tests for other stigmatized diseases like syphilis were once part of getting a marriage license and home pregnancy kits became available at every corner pharmacy, H.I.V. tests lived in a special limbo, usually requiring a counseling session and the signing of a consent form, adding to the air of dread.

Even when antiretroviral drugs emerged in the mid-1990s, states were slow to rewrite laws governing testing.

Mark Harrington, the executive director of the Treatment Action Group, an AIDS advocacy organization, said in an interview that he thought such fears were “a thing of the past” now that it is clear that early treatment saves lives. “Any tool that speeds up diagnosis is really needed,” he said.

The new test has some drawbacks. While it is extremely accurate when administered by medical professionals, it is less so when used by consumers. Researchers found the home test accurate 99.98 percent of the time for people who do not have the virus. By comparison, they found it to be accurate 92 percent of the time in detecting people who do. One concern is the “window period” between the time someone gets the virus and begins to develop the antibodies to it, which the test detects. That can take up to three months.

So, while only about one person in 5,000 would get a false positive test, about one person in 12 could get a false negative.

Any positive test needs confirmation in a doctor’s office, the F.D.A. said, and people engaged in high-risk sex should test themselves regularly.

The agency does not intend for the home test to replace medical testing, but instead to provide another way for people to find out their H.I.V. status, said Dr. Karen Midthun, director of the F.D.A.’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

The home test should be available in 30,000 pharmacies, grocery stores and online retailers by October, said Douglas Michels, OraSure’s chief executive. The price has not yet been set. But he said it would be higher than the $17.50 now charged to medical professionals because the company will do more complicated packaging for the home kit, open a 24-hour question line, and advertise to high-risk groups, including gay men, blacks and Hispanics, and sexually active adults. Still, he said, it will be kept inexpensive enough to appeal to people who might want to buy several a year.

Because the F.D.A. approved the home test only for people 17 and older, retail stores may ask customers to show ID, he said. The restriction is not for medical reasons, but because only a few subjects age 14 to 16 were tested, he said, “so that was the deal we worked out with the F.D.A.”

Whether having to show identification would deter teenagers or young-looking people from buying a test is unclear. Mr. Harrington said he thought it might.

In contrast, teenage girls are not legally required to show identification to buy pregnancy tests.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 5, 2012

Because of an editing error, an article on Wednesday about federal approval of a rapid H.I.V. test sold over the counter for use at home reversed the odds of a person’s getting a false positive or false negative result in taking the OraQuick H.I.V. test. About one person in 5,000 would get a false positive test, and about one person in 12 could get a false negative — not the other way around. The article also described the method of the test incorrectly. It requires a person to swab fluid in the mouth at the gumline; it does not require a cheek swab.

Gawd… How about a Correction to the effect that this article is withdrawn as it is complete nonsense and serves only as propaganda to keep up the most gigantic scientific three card monte game ever in the business of medicine?

A closer examination

Let’s see if any of this piece makes sense, statistically speaking. In print on Wednesday morning, it appeared as

Researchers found the home test accurate 99.98 per cent of the time for people who do not have the virus. By comparison, they found it to be accurate 92 per cent of the time in detecting people who do….So while only about one person in 5,000 would get a false negative test, about one person in 12 would get a false positive.

In other words, our print edition carried the corrected statement, as noted on the Web above.

Uncertainty as to what figures mean

Still, one sympathises with the reporters who got it wrong. One can easily get lost in this hall of mirrors. Accuracy is a function of both sensitivity and specificity, ie how sensitive the test is to the actual virus (antibody) it is searching for, so it will find it if it is there, and how much it confuses it with other things, so it will register a false positive.

Sensitivity (also called recall rate in some fields) measures the proportion of actual positives which are correctly identified as such (e.g. the percentage of sick people who are correctly identified as having the condition). Specificity measures the proportion of negatives which are correctly identified (e.g. the percentage of healthy people who are correctly identified as not having the condition).

Sensitivity is rated by how many of the real positives it finds, in this case 92%. A 100% sensitivity test could score 100% by marking everyone positive, which wouldn’t be very useful. You aim to build a test sufficiently sensitive to find the virus (antibody) where it exists, without overreacting and cross reacting and finding virus (antibody) too often where it is not present. You don’t want to impose a false positive on luckless consumers of the HIV/AIDS story.

So you try to make the sensitivity high, but not too high, when it will find too many false positives.

Specificity reflects the number of false positives it finds among true negatives. 100% specificity would find no false negatives. You could trust that every negative found was indeed truly negative for the virus (antibody) and not overlooking any with a false negative result.

What the printed report means in these terms is that sensitivity is 92% and specificity is 4999/5000.

What the accuracy/inaccuracy means

So, taking the Times correction at face value, while you have 1 in 5000 negatives that will register false positive, you will have 8% or 8 in 100 or 1 in 12 positives which are going to register as false negatives, ie be missed.

That would be the result of having a reasonably low sensitivity. It will miss some positives entirely, 8%, but it wont find too many false positives. But it will still find quite a lot. Among negatives we will also have 308.8 million divided by 5000, or 61,760 false positives, that are produced by this test.

Since there are 1.2 million genuine positives, according to the CDC current reckoning, that would mean that 96,000 positives (8%) are going to be missed, testing negative, while one in 5000 of the 308.8 million negatives are going to test false positive. That’s 61,760 false positives.

A reassuring result!

On balance, then the test will inaccurately reassure more people than it will inaccurately condemn. About one third more – 96,000 against 61,760. A happy result even for those who believe that the test is worthless, and would ideally result in zero positives. For it will succeed in misleading about a net 35,000 people they are negative when they are in fact positive, which is a good thing in a land where HIV/AIDS superstition rules.

Of course, from the point of view of anyone actually familiar with the true science of HIV/AIDS published in peer reviewed journals and what it tells us, the test will be reassuring if positive, for it will signal you are truly HIV negative.

Thus a positive test actually tells us nothing to justify alarm, but in fact, is a helpful confirmation of the fact that even if HIV is dangerous, which it is not, we have got rid of it. So the 1.2 million it registers as positive should in fact be pleased and not alarmed at the result.

Since few people even in medicine or science actually read the journals or this blog on this topic, however, anyone who registers positive is going to be upset, to say the least. But at lest the 96,000 positives it will miss are going to escape the flaming dragon breath of this scientific cult.

However, we live in the land of HIV/AIDS superstition so on the scientifically insane assumptions of standard HIV/AIDS belief, the test will first of all needlessly alarm some 1 million (92% of 1.2 million) testees with true positive results, which actually mean they are HIV negative, but they will believe and be told it means they are HIV positive.

Added to this, the test will also needlessly alarm 61,760 people with false positive results, with all that implies – usually severe, health destroying depression and suicidal thoughts, compounded by doctors and nurses whose minds are puppets of this scientific cult, who wish to give them noxious drugs so that they can “live with HIV” for longer than otherwise, although in fact the drugs damage their health and in many cases send them to the grave.

In other words, if you have the health of the general population in mind, and of gays and blacks in particular, this test is the last thing you want to be sold over the counter.

But of course if you are a member of the cult of HIV/AIDS and subscribe to the nonsensical ideology propounded by Dr Anthony Fauci wherever he is invited to explain it, then it is a very fine advance in the spread of beliefs which can only mean more business for you and your colleagues.

Stock jumps

Accordingly, Orasure stock jumped 9% on the FDA announcement, so investors are already excited.

Let’s check the figures

But are the accuracy figures precisely correct? We thought we would get the accuracy measures from the horse’s mouth, OraQuick back up staff, just to make sure.

The support center is staffed with bi-lingual (English/Spanish) representatives who are available by telephone (toll free 866-436-6527) to answer questions about HIV/AIDS, describe how to use the test and interpret the results, and to provide direct referral to care if needed. Support center representatives are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and will be active starting on Monday, July 9th.

A helpful Janice answered when we called, and gave us what she had been told. We later checked it again with a Patricia. The test was 99.97 % accurate on positives if done correctly, she said; the 91.7 % figure was when people didn’t apply it properly ie ate less than half an hour before.

Thus they had found that in that kind of real life situation it found only 88 out of 96 true positives. It would miss 8 out of 96. 8.5% would be recorded as false negative.

If they were truly negative they would get a negative result 99.9 % of the time she asserted. This figure came from their study where they found it scored a false positive once in 4903 true negative cases.

So correcting our figures to reflect these exact numbers, the number of false positives produced by the 308.8 million HIV negative people in the US will be that number divided by 4,903, or 62,981.

Among true positives in their testing it found 88 out of 96 cases, it seems. So if it is applied by the entire population, it will find 88/96 of 1.2 million true positives, or 1,100,000. 100,000 will be missed.

So it will find a total 1,100,000 positives plus 62,981 = 1,162,981 positives of which about 63,000 will be false.

So the rate of false positives in those positives it finds will be 63/1163 0r 5.4 per cent, or 1 in 18.4.

So about 1 in 18 will be false positive, 63,000 in the whole population.

Bottom line cost/benefit

What does this mean in terms of good science and bad science?

First, it means in terms of good science that 1,100,000 should be reassured by a true positive test that they are safely HIV negative, but in fact according to the bad science which rules, they will be very alarmed, scared and mismedicated with toxic drugs that can kill them.

Second, it also means that 63,000 will score a false positive result, which should reassure them they are HIV negative, when in fact they are not. But under the rule of bad science, they will believe they are in danger of dying, which is true enough, since they will be told so and mismedicated by toxic HIV drugs.

Thirdly, it means that 100,000 will be reassured by a false negative test result, so will be preserved from being grossly alarmed by a true positive test, one they should have scored and been reassured by, but in a land of HIV/AIDS superstition, one they would have been needlessly upset by and then attacked by toxic drugs. Instead, they will be reassured by the incorrect result.

So the bottom line is the test will needlessly upset 1,163,000 with bad science that suggests they will succumb to HIV when they will not, and will ensure they are medicated with noxious drugs.

By missing 100,000 true positives it will relieve that number of the serious impact of bad science and its accompanying mistreatment.

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Could be the Higgs – or something more complex

Now they know where to look further, at least

Physicists welcome reasons to stay on the job much longer

Risky business yields worthwhile prize, Asimov would say

Today we learn what they have – and it seems that there is definitely something there. But what? If it is the Higgs, it has more complicated properties than expected.

Denis Overbye does a good job explaining what they may have.

So was the game worth the candle – the result worth the gamble with our entire existence, as some theorists worried?

Isaac Asimov, armchair researcher, would have cheered.

He once wrote:

“Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance. It is better to know even if the knowledge endures only for the moment that comes before destruction than to gain eternal life at the price of a dull and swinish lack of comprehension of a universe that swirls unseen before us in all its wonder. That was the choice of Achilles, and it is mine, too.”

July 4, 2012
A New Particle Could Be Physics’ Holy Grail
By DENNIS OVERBYE
ASPEN, Colo. — Physicists working at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider said Wednesday that they had discovered a new subatomic particle that looks for all the world like the Higgs boson, a potential key to an understanding of why elementary particles have mass and indeed to the existence of diversity and life in the universe.

“I think we have it,” Rolf-Dieter Heuer, the director general of CERN, said in an interview from his office outside Geneva, calling the discovery “a historic milestone.” His words signaled what is probably the beginning of the end for one of the longest, most expensive searches in the history of science. If scientists are lucky, the discovery could lead to a new understanding of how the universe began.

Dr. Heuer and others said that it was too soon to know for sure whether the new particle, which weighs in at 125 billion electron volts, one of the heaviest subatomic particles yet, fits the simplest description given by the Standard Model, the theory that has ruled physics for the last half-century, or whether it is an impostor, a single particle or even the first of many particles yet to be discovered. The latter possibilities are particularly exciting to physicists since they could point the way to new deeper ideas, beyond the Standard Model, about the nature of reality. For now, some physicists are calling it a “Higgslike” particle.

“It’s great to discover a new particle, but you have find out what its properties are,” said John Ellis, a theorist at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

Joe Incandela, of the University of California, Santa Barbara, a spokesman for one of two groups reporting data on Wednesday, called the discovery “very, very significant.”

“It’s something that may, in the end, be one of the biggest observations of any new phenomena in our field in the last 30 or 40 years, going way back to the discovery of quarks, for example,” he said.

Here at the Aspen Center for Physics, a retreat for scientists that will celebrate its 50th birthday on Saturday, the sounds of cheers and popping corks reverberated early Wednesday against the Sawatch Range through the Roaring Fork Valley of the Rockies, as bleary-eyed physicists watched their colleagues read off the results in a webcast from CERN. It was a scene duplicated in Melbourne, Australia, where physicists had gathered for a major conference, as well as in Los Angeles, Chicago, Princeton, New York, London and beyond — everywhere that members of a curious species have dedicated their lives and fortunes to the search for their origins in a dark universe.

Nima Arkani-Hamed, a physicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, said: “I was really impressed. It’s a triumphant day for fundamental physics. Now some fun begins!”

At CERN itself, 1,000 people stood in line all night to get into the auditorium, according to Guido Tonelli, a CERN physicist who said the atmosphere was like a rock concert. Peter Higgs, the University of Edinburgh theorist for whom the boson is named, entered the meeting to a standing ovation.

Confirmation of the Higgs boson or something very much like it would constitute a rendezvous with destiny for a generation of physicists who have believed in the boson for half a century without ever seeing it. And it affirms a grand view of a universe ruled by simple and elegant and symmetrical laws, but in which everything interesting in it, like ourselves, is a result of flaws or breaks in that symmetry.

According to the Standard Model, which has ruled physics for 40 years, the Higgs boson is the only visible and particular manifestation of an invisible force field, a cosmic molasses that permeates space and imbues elementary particles that would otherwise be massless with mass. Particles wading through it would gain heft.

Without this Higgs field, as it is known, or something like it, physicists say all the elementary forms of matter would zoom around at the speed of light, flowing through our hands like moonlight. There would be neither atoms nor life.

Physicists said that they would probably be studying the new Higgs particle for years. Any deviations from the simplest version of the boson — and there are hints of some already — could open a gateway to new phenomena and deeper theories that answer questions left hanging by the Standard Model: What, for example, is the dark matter that provides the gravitational scaffolding of galaxies? And why is the universe made of matter instead of antimatter?

“If the boson really is not acting standard, then that will imply that there is more to the story — more particles, maybe more forces around the corner,” Neal Weiner, a theorist at New York University, wrote in an e-mail. “What that would be is anyone’s guess at the moment.”

One intriguing candidate for the next theory they have been on the watch for is called supersymmetry, “SUSY” for short, which would come with a whole new laundry list of particles to be discovered, one of which might be the source of dark matter. In supersymmetry there are at least two Higgs bosons.

Dr. Incandela said, “The whole world thinks there is one Higgs, but there could be many of them.”

Michael Turner, a cosmologist at the University of Chicago and the chairman of the physics center board, said, “This is a big moment for particle physics and a crossroads — will this be the high water mark or will it be the first of many discoveries that point us toward solving the really big questions that we have posed?”

Wednesday’s announcement is also an impressive opening act for the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s biggest physics machine, which collides protons and only began operating two years ago. It is still running at only half-power.

Physicists had been holding their breath and perhaps icing the Champagne ever since last December. Two teams of about 3,000 physicists each — one named Atlas, led by Fabiola Gianotti, and the other CMS, led by Dr. Incandela — operate giant detectors in the collider, sorting the debris from the primordial fireballs left after proton collisions. Last winter they both reported hints of the same particle. They were not able, however, to rule out the possibility that it was a statistical fluke.

Since then the collider has more than doubled the number of collisions it has recorded.

The new results capped three weeks of feverish speculation and Internet buzz as the physicists, who had been sworn to secrecy, did a breakneck analysis of some 800 trillion proton-proton collisions over the last two years. They were racing to get ready for a major conference in Melbourne that started on Wednesday, where they had promised an update on the Higgs search.

In the end, the CERN council, which consists of representatives from each of CERN’s 20 member states, decided that the potentially historic announcement should come from the lab’s own turf first.

Up until last weekend, physicists from inside were reporting that they themselves did not know what the outcome would be, though many were having fun with the speculation.

“HiggsRumors” became one of the most popular hashtags on Twitter. The particle also acquired its own iPhone app, a game called “Agent Higgs.” Expectations soared when it was learned that the five surviving originators of the Higgs boson theory had been invited to the CERN news conference.

On the eve of the announcement, in what was an embarrassing moment for the lab where the Web was invented, a video of Dr. Incandela making his statement was posted to the Internet and then quickly withdrawn. Dr. Incandela said he had made a series of video presentations with alternate conclusions so that the video producers would not know the right answer ahead of time, but the one that was right just happened to get posted.

But the December signal was no fluke.

Like Omar Sharif materializing out of a distant blur of heated air into a man on a camel in “Lawrence of Arabia,” what was once a hint of a signal had grown over the last year, until it practically jumped off the chart. “I believe it now; I didn’t before,” said a physicist who was one of the first to see the new results but was not authorized to discuss them.

The new particle has a mass of about 125.3 billion electron volts, in the units of mass and energy — Einstein showed they are the same — that are favored by physicists, about as much as a whole barium atom, according to the CMS group, and 126 billion according to Atlas.

Both groups said that the likelihood that their signal was a result of a chance fluctuation was less than one chance in 3.5 million, so-called “five sigma,” which is the gold standard in physics for a discovery.

On that basis, Dr. Heuer said that he had decided only Tuesday afternoon to call the Higgs result a “discovery.”

He said, “I know the science, and as director general I can stick out my neck.”

Dr. Incandela’s and Dr. Gianotti’s presentations were repeatedly interrupted by applause as they showed slide after slide of data bumps rising like mountains from the sea.

Dr. Gianotti said at one point: “Why are you applauding? I’m not done yet. This is just beginning. There is more to come.”

She noted that the mass of the putative Higgs made it easy to study its many behaviors and channels. “So,” she said, “thanks, nature.”

Gerald Guralnik, one of the founders of the Higgs theory, said he was glad to be at a physics meeting “where there is applause like a football game.”

Asked to comment after the announcements, Dr. Higgs seemed overwhelmed, saying, “For me, its really an incredible thing that’s happened in my lifetime.”

In quantum theory, which is the language of particle physicists, elementary particles are divided into two rough categories: fermions, which are bits of matter like electrons, and bosons, which are bits of energy and can transmit forces, like the photon that transmits light.

Dr. Higgs was one of six physicists, working in three independent groups, who in 1964 invented the notion of the cosmic molasses, or Higgs field. The others were Tom Kibble of Imperial College, London; Carl Hagen of the University of Rochester; Dr. Guralnik of Brown University; and Francois Englert and Robert Brout, both of Université Libre de Bruxelles.

One implication of their theory was that this cosmic molasses, normally invisible and, of course, odorless, would produce its own quantum particle if hit hard enough, by the right amount of energy. The particle would be fragile and fall apart within a millionth of a second in a dozen different ways depending upon its own mass.

Unfortunately, the theory did not say how much this particle should weigh, which is what made it so hard to find. The pesky particle eluded researchers at a succession of particle accelerators, including the Large Electron Positron Collider at CERN, which closed down in 2000, and the Tevatron at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, or Fermilab, in Batavia, Ill., which shut down last year.

Along the way the Higgs boson achieved a notoriety rare for abstract physics. To the eternal dismay of his colleagues, Leon Lederman, the former director of Fermilab, called it the “God particle,” in his book of the same name, later quipping that he had wanted to call it “the goddamn particle.”

Finding the missing boson was one of the main goals of the Large Hadron Collider.

Both Dr. Heuer and Dr. Gianotti said they had not expected the search to succeed so quickly, a tribute, they said, to the people who had built the collider and the detectors and learned to run them efficiently. “It’s truly amazing,” said Lisa Randall, a prominent Harvard theorist.

Dr. Heuer recently extended the current run of the collider an extra three months, to the end of this year, during which the experimenters say they expect to triple their data on the new particle, narrowing its possible identities.

The collider will then shut down for two years for major repairs. When it starts up again, theories of both inner space and outer space could be up for grabs.

Although they have never been seen, Higgslike fields play an important role in theories of the universe and in string theory. Under certain conditions, according to the strange accounting of Einsteinian physics, they can become suffused with energy that exerts an antigravitational force. Such fields have been proposed as the source of an enormous burst of expansion, known as inflation, early in the universe and, possibly, as the secret of the dark energy that now seems to be speeding up the expansion of the universe.

Knowing more about the new particle will help put those theories on firmer ground, Dr. Turner of Chicago said.

So far, the physicists admit, they know little. The CERN results are mostly based on measurements of two or three of the dozen different ways, or “channels,” by which a Higgs boson could be produced and then decay.

There are hints, but only hints so far, that some of the channels are overproducing the Higgs while others might be underproducing, clues maybe that there is more than the Standard Model at work.

“This could be the first in a ring of discoveries,” Dr. Tonelli said.

CERN will be examining the rest of the channels over the coming months and years, and the idea that the Standard Model could be cracking is a prospect that physicists find thrilling. Only time, and a few more trillion proton collisions, will tell.

In an e-mail, Maria Spiropulu, a professor at the California Institute of Technology who works with the CMS team at CERN, wrote about the Higgs: “I personally do not want it to be standard model anything — I don’t want it to be simple or symmetric or as predicted. I want us all to have been dealt a complex hand that will send me (and all of us) in a (good) loop for a long time.”

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The Higgs boson – have they or haven’t they?

Apparently an announcement is planned for Wednesday Jul 4 (if we read this report right) that the footprint of particle physics’ Invisible Man has been found in the Pyramid of Cheops-sized mound of data captured by the CERN LHC. But the physicists sifting the sand are not really quite sure they have found enough to cry victory yet. The Higgs remains elusive.

All about Peter Higgs at http://www.ph.ed.ac.uk/higgs/

http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/apnewsbreak-evidence-of-god-1468757.html

APNewsBreak: Evidence of ‘God particle’ found

By SETH BORENSTEIN
The Associated Press

12:56 p.m. Monday, July 2, 2012
GENEVA — Scientists working at the world’s biggest atom smasher plan to announce Wednesday that they have gathered enough evidence to show that the long-sought “God particle” answering fundamental questions about the universe almost certainly does exist.

But after decades of work and billions of dollars spent, researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, aren’t quite ready to say they’ve “discovered” the particle.

Instead, experts familiar with the research at CERN’s vast complex on the Swiss-French border say that the massive data they have obtained will essentially show the footprint of the key particle known as the Higgs boson — all but proving it exists — but doesn’t allow them to say it has actually been glimpsed.

It appears to be a fine distinction.

Senior CERN scientists say the two independent teams of physicists who plan to present their work at CERN’s vast complex on the Swiss-French border on July 4 are about as close as you can get to a discovery without actually calling it one.

“I agree that any reasonable outside observer would say, ‘It looks like a discovery,'” British theoretical physicist John Ellis, a professor at King’s College London who has worked at CERN since the 1970s, told The Associated Press. “We’ve discovered something which is consistent with being a Higgs.”

CERN’s atom smasher, the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider, has been creating high-energy collisions of protons to help them understand suspected phenomena such as dark matter, antimatter and ultimately the creation of the universe billions of years ago, which many theorize occurred as a massive explosion known as the Big Bang.

The discovery of the Higgs boson won’t change people’s lives, but will help explain the underpinnings of the universe. It would confirm the standard model of physics that explains why fundamental particles have mass. Those particles are the building blocks of the universe. Mass is a trait that combines with gravity to give an object weight.

The phrase “God particle,” coined by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman, is used by laymen, not physicists, more as an explanation for how the wonders of the subatomic universe work than how it all started.

Rob Roser, who leads the search for the Higgs boson at the Fermilab in Chicago, said: “Particle physicists have a very high standard for what it takes to be a discovery,” and he thinks it is a hair’s breadth away.

Rosen compared the results that scientists are preparing to announce Wednesday to finding the fossilized imprint of a dinosaur: “You see the footprints and the shadow of the object, but you don’t actually see it.”

Though an impenetrable concept to many, the Higgs boson has until now been just that — a concept intended to explain a riddle: How were the subatomic particles, such as electrons, protons and neutrons, themselves formed? What gives them their mass?

The answer came in a theory first proposed by physicist Peter Higgs and others in the 1960s. It envisioned an energy field where particles interact with a key particle, the Higgs boson.

The idea is that other particles attract Higgs bosons and the more they attract, the bigger their mass will be. Some liken the effect to a ubiquitous Higgs snowfield that affects other particles traveling through it depending on whether they are wearing, metaphorically speaking, skis, snowshoes or just shoes.

Officially, CERN is presenting its evidence at a physics conference in Australia this week, but plans to accompany the announcement with meetings in Geneva. The two teams, ATLAS and CMS, then plan to publicly unveil more data on the Higgs boson at physics meetings in October and December. Each of the teams involves thousands of people working independently from one another, to ensure accuracy.

Scientists with access to the new CERN data say it shows with a high degree of certainty that the Higgs boson may already have been glimpsed, and that by unofficially combining the separate results from ATLAS and CMS it can be argued that a discovery is near at hand. Ellis says at least one physicist-blogger has done just that in a credible way.

CERN spokesman James Gillies said Monday, however, that he would be “very cautious” about unofficial combinations of ATLAS and CMS data. “Combining the data from two experiments is a complex task, which is why it takes time, and why no combination will be presented on Wednesday,” he told AP.

But if the calculations are indeed correct, said John Guinon, a longtime physics professor at the University of California at Davis and author of the book “The Higgs Hunter’s Guide,” then it is fair to say that “in some sense we have reached the mountaintop.”

Sean M. Carroll, a California Institute of Technology physicist flying to Geneva for the July 4th announcement, said that if both ATLAS and CMS have independently reached these high thresholds on the Higgs boson, then “only the most curmudgeonly will not believe that they have found it.”

___

Borenstein reported from Washington.

___

July 02, 2012 12:56 PM EDT

Copyright 2012, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Epidemiologists are stupid – say epidemiologists in NY Times Op Ed

General belief has to be revised in light of properly done study

Family dinners not as beneficial to kids social health as previously thought

Screamingly obvious controls were omitted

Remarkable Op Ed piece in the Times today (Jun 29 Fri 2012) corrects the wrong impression created by many epidemiologists in the past who did their studies on the effect of families observing dinners together often without correcting for other variables. Apparently if you do correct for factors such as whether the family is well off in other respects you find that the sharing dinner factor is much less influential than previously thought. Kids who share dinner with their families typically do not do that much better than kids whose families don’t eat dinner together very often.

The whole Op Ed amounts to a public condemnation of their colleagues for being stupid to the point of idiocy in designing their studies without controlling for the most screamingly obvious variables.

A paradigm falls in that group family dinners are not so powerful an influences on the social health of kids as has been mistakenly thought, owing to the abysmal work of other epidemiologists.

Another paradigm falls too – the general belief that researchers in epidemiology who publish studies in journals are more intelligent in designing studies than the average comedian, who could probably do a better job if the work wasn’t so dull.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/01/opinion/sunday/is-the-family-dinner-overrated.html?_r=1

June 29, 2012
Is the Family Dinner Overrated?
By ANN MEIER and KELLY MUSICK
DOZENS of studies in the past decade have found that teenagers who regularly eat dinner with their families are healthier, happier, do better in school and engage in fewer risky behaviors than teenagers who don’t regularly eat family dinners. These findings have helped give dinnertime an almost magical aura and have led to no small amount of stress and guilt among busy moms and dads.

But does eating together really make for better-adjusted kids? Or is it just that families that can pull off a regular dinner also tend to have other things (perhaps more money, or more time) that themselves improve child well-being?

Our research, published last month in the peer-reviewed Journal of Marriage and Family, shows that the benefits of family dinners aren’t as strong or as lasting as previous studies suggest.

We considered a rich body of data: the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health. This is a nationally representative sample of about 18,000 adolescents who were interviewed twice, a year apart, in middle school or high school, and then again in young adulthood (between ages 18 and 26). They answered detailed questions about their lives and well-being, and their parents also answered questions on topics like income and living arrangements.

In our study, we analyzed how the frequency of family dinners was associated with three indicators of a young person’s well-being: depressive symptoms; drug and alcohol use; and delinquency (a tally of many behaviors, from petty shoplifting to physical assault).

First, we looked at the associations between family dinners and these measures of well-being at just a single point in time, in adolescence. Without controlling for any other factors, the associations between family dinners and well-being were quite strong and in line with past research. But the associations were far less striking after we accounted, with the help of the data, for the ways in which families who did and didn’t eat together tended to differ: for instance, in the quality of family relationships, in activities with a parent (a tally of things like moviegoing and helping with schoolwork), in parental monitoring (things like curfews and approving clothing) and in family resources (things like income and whether both parents were in the household).

To give an example: without controlling for such factors, we found that 73 percent of adolescents who seldom ate with their families (twice per week) reported drug and alcohol use, compared with 55 percent of those who ate with their families regularly (seven days a week). But controlling for these factors, the gap was cut in half, from 18 percentage points to 9.

Next, as a more stringent test of causality, we looked at adolescents over the course of a year and examined how changes in the frequency of family dinners related to changes in well-being. If adolescents were eating family dinners more often a year later, were they better off? We found that following teenagers over a year provided even weaker evidence for the causal effects of family dinners on adolescent well-being — only the effect of family dinners on teen depressive symptoms held up. There was no effect on drug and alcohol use or delinquency.

Finally, we looked at whether family dinners in the teenage years had effects that persisted into young adulthood. Again, evidence for benefits was thin. We found no direct, lasting effects of family dinners on mental health, drug and alcohol use or delinquency. (Of course, it may be that family dinners have a stronger or more lasting effect on behavior that we didn’t study, like eating habits.)

What, then, should you think about dinnertime? Though we are more cautious than other researchers about the unique benefits of family dinners, we don’t dismiss the possibility that they can matter for child well-being. Given that eating is universal and routine, family meals offer a natural opportunity for parental influence: there are few other contexts in family life that provide a regular window of focused time together. (A study by Columbia University’s Center on Addiction and Substance Use asked teens when, apart from dinner, they talked to parents about their lives: a vast majority said it was when driving in the car.)

But our findings suggest that the effects of family dinners on children depend on the extent to which parents use the time to engage with their children and learn about their day-to-day lives. So if you aren’t able to make the family meal happen on a regular basis, don’t beat yourself up: just find another way to connect with your kids.

Ann Meier is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota. Kelly Musick is an associate professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell University.

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World Science Festival

Some interesting stuff in the well financed World Science Festival this week.

One question: Is it possible to attend the Universal Vaccine discussion at the New York Historical Society involving the usual suspects ie Harold Varmus and Laurie Garrett without being a trifle nauseated at their mental myopia, if not wilful ignorance? This would certainly spoil what would otherwise be a treat for cynics who appreciate the comedy of human vanity.

2012 Festival Events

SEE THE WEBCAST SCHEDULE

5th Anniversary Gala Celebration: A Performing Arts Salute to Science
Alan Alda, Joshua Bell, Todd Ellison, Paige Faure, Drew Gehling, Brian Greene, Rose Hemingway, David Hibbard, MOMIX, Debra Monk, Eryn Murman, James Naughton, Abbey O’Brien, T. Oliver Reid, Teal Wicks

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 6:30 PM – 11:00 PM
The Allen Room and Atrium, Frederick P. Rose Hall
The World Science Festival’s Fifth Anniversary Gala Celebration brings together leaders in science, theatre, music, art, education and business for an evening that celebrates both the content and the culture of science, while raising essential support for the Festival’s mission and programs.

A “Performing Arts Salute to Science,” the program will be hosted by Alan Alda and feature violinist Joshua Bell, physicist Brian Greene, TONY award-winning performer James Naughton, Emmy award-winning actress Debra Monk and other Broadway luminaries – Todd Ellison, Rose Hemmingway, Paige Faure, Eryn Murman, Abbey O’Brien, David Hibbard, Drew Gehling – as well as the mesmerizing dancer-illusionists of MOMIX.

Wednesday
KIDS & FAMILIES
Icarus at the Edge of Time
LeVar Burton, Al + Al, Philip Glass, Brian Greene, David Henry Hwang, Brad Lubman, Orchestra of St. Luke’s

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
United Palace Theatre
Icarus at the Edge of Time is the story of a courageous boy who challenges the awesome might of a black hole. This stunning, full-orchestral work with animated film and live narrator brings a powerful modern twist to a classic myth, taking audiences of all ages on a whirlwind voyage through space and time, to the very edge of understanding. Featuring an original orchestral score by Philip Glass, performed by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, conducted by Brad Lubman, film by Al + Al and narration written by Brian Greene and David Henry Hwang.
^
Thursday

The 2012 Kavli Prizes
Richard Besser, John Holdren, Angela Belcher, Thomas Jessell, Claire Max
Thursday, May 31, 2012 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM
NYU Global Center, Grand Hall
Winners of the 2012 prestigious $1 million Kavli Prizes will be announced live via satellite from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo. On-site opening remarks will be given by John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, followed by ABC News’ chief health and medical editor Richard Besser and leading researchers exploring the next wave of opportunities in the Kavli prize areas: astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience.

Surface Tension: The Future of Water
Thursday, May 31, 2012 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Eyebeam Art + Technology Center
Rethink the most fundamental resource on Earth—water—through the lens of art, design and science at the U.S. premiere of Surface Tension: The Future of Water. This striking interactive exhibit, created by Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin, explores water through the exceptional and unexpected. Showcasing more than 40 different artworks, Surface Tension underscores the urgency of the looming water crisis: 1.2 billion people lack access to clean water, and increasing shortages threaten food production, public health and political stability.
SURFACE TENSION: THE FUTURE OF WATER was created by Science Gallery at Trinity College, Dublin and is made possible through the generous support of Culture Ireland, the Cordover Family Foundation and the University of Dublin Fund.
Surface Tension runs from Wednesday, May 30 through August 11th at Eyebeam in NYC; the exhibit is open Tuesday – Saturday from 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

Cheers to Science! A Drinkable Feast of Beer, Biotechnology and Archaeology
Sam Calagione, Patrick E. McGovern
Thursday, May 31, 2012 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
La Scuola Grande & La Birreria at Eataly
Brewing beer may be humankind’s first biotechnology, representing our earliest attempt to harness the power of living organisms. What did those ancient brews taste like? How were they created? Join biomolecular archaeologist Patrick McGovern and pioneering brewmaster Sam Calagione as they explore ancient ales from around the world and retrace their journey to Italy to reconstruct an Etruscan fermented beverage circa 800 to 700 BC. Then head up to La Birreria, Eataly’s rooftop brewery, to sample a first-run batch of this prehistoric ale before fermentation. Bottoms up!

This is a special happy hour event from the World Science Festival.

Artist as Innovator: Visions of a Floating City
Julie Burstein, Tomás Saraceno, Peter Jäger, Mario Livio, Christopher McKay, Mark Wigley
Thursday, May 31, 2012 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bonnie J. Sacerdote Lecture Hall in The Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center
Great artists shape new realities by challenging conventional world views and pushing society to see possibility in unlikely places. That paradigm springs to life on top of the Metropolitan Art Museum, where Argentinian-born artist Tomás Saraceno debuts his new utopian installation, Cloud Cities, a towering constellation of interconnected pods that draws its inspiration from the geometry of bubbles, the flight of balloons, the patterns of the cosmos and the intricacies of spider webs. Navigate your way through the structure’s maze of mirrors and webs before joining the artist and renowned scientists and architects for a conversation that brings the intersection of science and art to the foreground, and explores radical new habitats for 21st-century living.

Presented in collaboration with The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Reefs As Never Before Seen: A World Premiere
Bill Ritter, Lynette Wallworth, Anya Salih, Nancy Knowlton
Thursday, May 31, 2012 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
American Museum of Natural History
The stunning underwater realm of fluorescent coral reefs and exotic sea creatures will overwhelm your senses, as the Hayden Planetarium’s dome is transformed by the renowned video installation artist Lynette Wallworth into an immersive view of ocean life few have ever witnessed. Join us for the premiere of Wallworth’s remarkable film, Coral: ReKindling Venus. Leading researchers set the stage by sharing insights on the vital science of coral reefs, in a phenomenal evening of art and science—and cocktails.

Presented in collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History.

Too Close To The Sun: Stories of Flash Points
Andy Borowitz, Tricia Rose Burt, Moran Cerf, Lisa P. Jackson, George Lombardi, Siddhartha Mukherjee
Thursday, May 31, 2012 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM
The Great Hall, Cooper Union
Presented with New York’s innovative storytelling collective, The Moth, esteemed scientists, writers and artists tell on-stage stories about their personal relationship with science. In keeping with Moth tradition, each story must be true and told within ten minutes, without notes. The result is a poignant, hilarious, and enjoyably unpredictable evening that’s sure to intrigue and surely hard to forget.

Madness Redefined: Creativity, Intelligence and the Dark Side of the Mind
Cynthia McFadden, James Fallon, Kay Redfield Jamison, Susan McKeown, Elyn Saks
Thursday, May 31, 2012 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM
The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
The notion of a “tortured genius” or “mad scientist” may be more than a romantic aberration. Mounting studies have established that bipolar disorder and schizophrenia correlate with high creativity and intelligence. Join leading researchers as they examine the shifting spectrum between brilliance and madness.

How We Bounce Back: The New Science of Human Resilience
Bill Blakemore, George Bonanno, Dennis Charney, Fran Norris, Matthieu Ricard
Thursday, May 31, 2012 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM
Tishman Auditorium at The New School
Car accidents. Suicide bombers. Earthquakes. Death of a spouse. Why do some people bounce back from traumatic events while others do not? Is there a biological profile of resiliency? Can science, with the jab of a needle or huff of an aerosol, help reduce post-stress trauma? Can, and should, we train people to be more resilient? Leading thinkers from around the world explore these and other questions about the science of human resiliency.

Afterglow: Dispatches from the Birth of the Universe
Lawrence M. Krauss, John C. Mather, Amber Miller, Lyman Page, David Spergel
Thursday, May 31, 2012 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM
NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
Cosmology is the one field in which researchers can—literally—witness the past. The cosmic background radiation, ancient light streaming toward us since the Big Bang, provides a pristine window onto the birth and evolution of the universe. Join Nobel Laureate John Mather and other leading scientists as they take us ever closer to answering one of the deepest questions: how did the universe begin?

Use hashtags #WSF12 and #cmbr to join the conversation via Twitter and Facebook, ask questions and share ideas.

The Creator: Alan Turing and the Future of Thinking Machines
Tim McHenry, Al + Al, Yann LeCun, Janna Levin, Josh Tenenbaum
Thursday, May 31, 2012 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Museum of the Moving Image
Join us for the world premiere of The Creator, a beautiful and surreal short-form film by award-winning British filmmakers Al+Al, which follows sentient computers from the future on a mystical odyssey to discover their creator: legendary computer scientist Alan Turing. Marking the centenary of Turing’s birth, The Creator will launch a wide-ranging conversation among leading computer scientists and physicists about the promise and perils of artificial intelligence, as we take a personal look at the remarkable and tragic life of this computer visionary.

Friday
KIDS & FAMILIES
Pioneers in Science: Featuring Elaine Fuchs
Juju Chang, Elaine Fuchs
Friday, June 1, 2012 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
NYU Global Center, President’s Colloquium Room
Pioneers in Science is an interactive program that gives high school students from around the world rare and intimate access to Nobel Laureates, presidential advisors, and other trailblazing scientists. This event features visionary geneticist Elaine Fuchs, whose work has pioneered entirely new ways of understanding human disease.

SALON
Illuminating Resilience
Carl Zimmer, George Bonanno, Sandro Galea, Glenn Saxe, Rachel Yehuda
Friday, June 1, 2012 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
NYU Global Center, Grand Hall
The World Science Festival’s annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival’s premiere public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty and well-informed members of the general public. This salon looks at new and controversial ways to understand the human capacity to cope with stress and rebound from traumatic events. Is resilience a combination of innate traits born of thousands of years of evolution? Is it a complex psychological process that varies across cultures and environments? Can resilience be reliably defined and objectively measured? Can it then be taught and reproduced?

KIDS & FAMILIES
Pioneers in Science: Featuring Lisa P. Jackson
Juju Chang, Lisa P. Jackson
Friday, June 1, 2012 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
NYU Global Center, President’s Colloquium Room
Pioneers in Science is an interactive program that gives high school students from around the world rare and intimate access to Nobel Laureates, presidential advisors, and other trailblazing scientists. This event features renowned chemical engineer Lisa P. Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

SALON
Refining Cosmology
Lawrence M. Krauss, John E. Carlstrom, Britt Reichborn-Kjennerud, John Kovac, Suzanne Staggs
Friday, June 1, 2012 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
NYU Global Center, Grand Hall
The World Science Festival’s annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival’s premiere public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty and well-informed members of the general public. This salon will look at how a sophisticated network of telescopes deployed in some of the most remote locations on Earth, from the South Pole to the Atacama desert, are providing ever more refined data to understand how the universe was created and how it will eventually evolve.

SALON
A New Look at Mental Illness
Mariette DiChristina, Bruce Cuthbert, Michael B. First, Donald Goff, Helen Blair Simpson
Friday, June 1, 2012 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
NYU Global Center, Grand Hall
The World Science Festival’s annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival’s premiere public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty and well-informed members of the general public. This salon explores the revolution in genetics, neuroscience and other means of understanding the biological basis of mental illness that promises a paradigm shift in psychiatry—one that would marry symptoms to their biological roots, refine the classification of mental disorders, and open up the door to personalized psychiatric treatments.

SALON
Alan Alda’s Burning Question: What is a Flame?
Alan Alda
Friday, June 1, 2012 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
The Paley Center for Media
Actor and science advocate Alan Alda invites scientists, teachers, and others who care about science communication to join in the discussion of one of the vital questions of our time: how to help society understand science better. Alan will report on intriguing—and sometimes surprising—results from the Flame Challenge, a worldwide contest that asked scientists to explain a flame in terms that would engage an 11-year-old. More than 6,000 11-year-olds judged the entries, but their responses provide lessons for scientists communicating with audiences of any age. We will discuss innovative techniques pioneered by the Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, where scientists are learning communication skills as a fundamental part of their science education.

Surface Tension: Opening Reception
Friday, June 1, 2012 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Eyebeam Art + Technology Center
Rethink the most fundamental resource on Earth—water—through the lens of art, science and design at the Opening Reception of the U.S. premiere of Surface Tension: The Future of Water. With more than 40 provocative exhibits, viewers are challenged to immerse themselves in the subject of water, exploring the exceptional and unexpected from art and culture to science and technology. Join artists, collaborators, and VIPs for the debut of these thought-provoking installations.

SURFACE TENSION: THE FUTURE OF WATER was created by Science Gallery at Trinity College, Dublin and is made possible through the generous support of Culture Ireland, the Cordover Family Foundation and the University of Dublin Fund.

Robot & Frank: The Future of Computerized Companions
David Brancaccio, Maja Matarić, Dennis Hong, and others
Friday, June 1, 2012 7:00 PM – 9:30 PM
Museum of the Moving Image
Join us for a screening of Robot and Frank, winner of the 2012 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation feature film prize at Sundance. This dramatic comedy, about a curmudgeonly old jewel thief whose robot caretaker becomes an unlikely partner-in-crime and soulmate, will inspire a follow-up discussion among pioneering roboticists, exploring the future of computerized companions and caretakers as technology profoundly alters the landscape—and very definition—of human interaction.

This program is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation as part of its Public Understanding of Science and Technology initiatives.
Presented in collaboration with the Museum of the Moving Image.

The Elusive Neutrino and the Nature of the Cosmos
Bill Weir, Janet Conrad, Francis Halzen, Lawrence M. Krauss, John Robinson
Friday, June 1, 2012 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM
Tishman Auditorium at The New School
The neutrino is among the cagiest of particles, a subatomic wisp so ephemeral it could pass through light years of lead with more ease than a hot knife through butter. This ghostly particle holds clues to some of the most profound questions in physics: What happened in the briefest moments after the Big Bang? Why does the universe contain more matter than antimatter? What happens in the fiery core of exploding stars and in the tumultuous center of active galaxies? Join leading researchers as they chase neutrinos and other elusive particles in search of nature’s fundamental order.

Quantum Biology and the Hidden Nature of Nature
John Hockenberry, Paul Davies, Seth Lloyd, Thorsten Ritz
Friday, June 1, 2012 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM
The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
Can the spooky world of quantum physics explain bird navigation, photosynthesis and even our delicate sense of smell? Clues are mounting that the rules governing the subatomic realm may play an unexpectedly pivotal role in the visible world. Join leading thinkers in the emerging field of quantum biology as they explore the hidden hand of quantum physics on the scales of everyday life.

Reawakening the Brain through Music
Lesley Stahl, Oliver Sacks, Petr Janata, Stanley Jordan, Concetta Tomaino
Friday, June 1, 2012 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM
NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
A composer finds freedom from Tourette’s through music; an amnesiac remembers distant memories when he hears the Grateful Dead; a patient with Parkinson’s listens to her favorite tunes and regains the ability to walk without tremors. What is it about music that can transport us to the past, reawaken distant emotions, and even heal some neurological disorders? Join renowned neurologist and best-selling author Oliver Sacks and pioneering music therapists as they use intimate portraits of patients profoundly transformed by music to explore the neural mechanisms behind music’s healing powers, and discuss possible implications for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, aphasia and other neurological impairments.

Hedy and George: Improbable Collaborators, Unconventional Innovators
John Schaefer, Carmelo Amarena, Tyondai Braxton, Jennifer Choi, Philip Glass, Tristan Perich, Richard Rhodes, Kathleen Supové
Friday, June 1, 2012 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Le Poisson Rouge
Join us for an evening of intimate conversation and musical performance as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes and some of the most forward-thinking composers of our age explore the extraordinary lives and legacies of two unconventional innovators: the legendary screen siren Hedy Lamarr and renowned avant-garde composer George Antheil. In a remarkable and unlikely union, Lamarr, known as ‘the most beautiful woman in the world,’ and Antheil, the self-described ‘bad boy of music,’ joined forces during World War II to invent a secret communication system that presaged today’s GPS and cell phone technologies. The conversation on innovation, science and music will be amplified by a series of performances of Antheil’s seminal scores and explorations of today’s most avant-garde electronica.

SALON
Neutrinos: The Next Decade
John Rennie, Janet Conrad, Francis Halzen, Joseph Formaggio, Lawrence M. Krauss
Friday, June 1, 2012 9:30 PM – 11:00 PM
NYU Global Center, Grand Hall
The World Science Festival’s annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival’s premiere public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty and well-informed members of the general public. In this salon, drill deeper into the insights neutrino research offers for the next phase of particle physics and the ongoing quest to determine the origins of the universe. What are the emerging techniques for hunting the elusive neutrino and how will these experiments lead to neutrino physics breakthroughs in the decade ahead?
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Saturday
KIDS & FAMILIES
Science-on-Site
Saturday, June 2, 2012 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Science comes to life in Brooklyn Bridge Park! Join adventurous researchers for a day of family-friendly exploration in one of the city’s most dynamic parks. Discover incredible marine life through an ancient fishing technique, join a leading botanist for a park-wide botanical safari, learn the science secrets of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, and more. Capping it all off is an unforgettable evening of stargazing. Adventure awaits!

KIDS & FAMILIES
Science Sets Sail Aboard the Tall Ship Clearwater
Saturday, June 2, 2012 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Join the World Science Festival and Clearwater educators in raising the sails on the sloop Clearwater, a replica of the 18th-century Dutch tall ships that once traveled the region delivering mail and supplies. Set your course using charts and compasses, and explore the waters of New York City as a citizen scientist. Identify an amazing variety of fish and invertebrates; test for pollution levels; and learn about the pressing environmental issues impacting these historic waterways. All aboard!

Innovation Square
Alex Pasternack, Jason Silva, Apoorv Agarwal, Babycastles, Boaz Almog, Andrew Blum, Howie Choset, Dickson Despommier, Peter Edwards, Heinrich Frontzek, Robert J. Full, Eitan Grinspun, Dennis Hong, Don Ingber, Katherine Isbister, Alan Jacobsen, Ellen Jorgensen, Oliver Medvedik, Vinod Menon, Jin Montclare, David Ng, Tristan Perich, Syed Salahuddin, Caitlin Trainor, Philip White, and others
Saturday, June 2, 2012 11:59 AM – 6:59 PM
Polytechnic Institute of NYU, MetroTech Plaza
The World Science Festival’s Innovation Square transforms a picturesque quad in downtown Brooklyn into a staging ground for future-shaping innovations springing to life in the labs, workshops, basements and backyards of inventors and researchers worldwide. Watch the first public demonstration of quantum levitation; get lost in the robot petting zoo; play with the world’s lightest material. It’s an unforgettable afternoon of amazing demos, challenges, and interactive fun, suitable for tech enthusiasts of all ages.

Meet the Authors: Conversations with Best-Selling Science Writers
Carl Zimmer, Peter Pringle, Lawrence M. Krauss, Edward O. Wilson
Saturday, June 2, 2012 1:00 PM – 9:00 PM
NYU Kimmel Center, Commuter Lounge
Spend a thought-provoking afternoon with four leading science authors as they share insights from their latest books. The conversations will move from the mind-bending physics of nothing to the surprising trend of science-themed tattoos, from the dark secrets of scientific research to the evolutionary mystery of the human condition. Bring your questions, your books, and your tattoos!

Internet Everywhere: The Future of History’s Most Disruptive Technology
John Donvan, Vinton Cerf, Neil Gershenfeld, Elizabeth Stark, Alex Wright

Saturday, June 2, 2012 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
Disruptive technologies uproot culture, can precipitate wars and even topple empires. By this measure, human history has seen nothing like the Internet. Pioneers of the digital revolution examine the Internet’s brief but explosive history and reveal nascent projects that will shortly reinvent how we interact with technology—and each other. From social upheaval and ever-shifting privacy standards to self-driving cars and networked groceries, this eye-opening program provides a stunning glimpse of what’s around the corner.

Live webcast begins at 1 PM on our website.
Join the conversation via Twitter and Facebook. Use hashtags #WSF12 and #webplosion to ask questions and share ideas.

On the Shoulders of Giants: A special address by Edward O. Wilson
Edward O. Wilson
Saturday, June 2, 2012 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
NYU Global Center, Grand Hall
Every generation benefits from the insights and discoveries of the generations who came before. “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” wrote Isaac Newton. In a special series, the World Science Festival invites audiences to stand on the shoulders of modern-day giants. The second annual address in this series will be given by esteemed evolutionary biologist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Edward O. Wilson, who will speak about radical advances in the study of human social behavior and evolutionary biology.

KIDS & FAMILIES
Cool Jobs
Alan Alda, Baba Brinkman, Cynthia Bir, Jarod Miller, Wendy Suzuki, Adam Wilson
Saturday, June 2, 2012 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
The Festival’s ever-popular Cool Jobs is back with a jaw-dropping show that brings you face-to-face with amazing scientists with amazing jobs. Imagine having an office that’s a zoo and co-workers that are lemurs and porcupines. How about getting paid to build machines that can read people’s thoughts. Or imagine your desk was a basketball court and your clients were superstars trying to improve their game through biomechanics? Well, you don’t have to just imagine. Hear from scientists who have these jobs—find out what they do, how they do it, and how they got the coolest and weirdest gigs on the planet. The program begins as Alan Alda hosts The Flame Challenge Prize Announcement. The contest, conceived by Alda and Stony Brook University’s Center for Communicating Science, called on scientists worldwide to give their best explanation of how a flame works—but in a way that makes sense to a kid. Cheer for your own favorite as Alda announces the winner chosen by hundreds of 11-year olds around the country.

Live webcast begins at 1 PM on our website.
Use hashtags #WSF12 and #coolgig to ask questions, share ideas, and join the conversation.

Pandemic Fix: Seeking Universal Vaccines
Richard Besser, Jean Ashton, Laurie Garrett, Gary Nabel, Michael Osterholm, Harold Varmus
Saturday, June 2, 2012 2:00 PM – 5:30 PM
New-York Historical Society, Smith Auditorium

Imagine beating every strain of flu with a single jab. Wiping out your risk of some lethal cancers, HIV, and malaria during a routine doctor’s visit. That’s the promise of next-generation vaccines, and researchers are closing in on the basic science needed to bring them to reality. Join epidemiologists, virologists, and public-health experts as they share insights on the new wave of vaccine research, and the race to eliminate pandemic threats. Setting the stage for the discussion is a screening of Contagion, Steven Soderbergh’s chilling thriller about a deadly flu outbreak and the global race to contain it.

Presented in collaboration with the New-York Historical Society, where “Get Vaccinated” is on display May 15 through September 2.

Surface Tension: Solving Our Water Woes
Femi Oke, Ralph Borland, Carey E. Hidaka, Sebastien Gouin, Stephanie Butler Velegol
Saturday, June 2, 2012 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Eyebeam Art + Technology Center
The U.S. premiere of Surface Tension: The Future of Water challenges viewers to rethink the most fundamental resource on Earth—water—through the lens of art, science and design. Join leading scientists as they build upon the provocative ideas of this striking interactive exhibit and share insights on solving the urgent issue of water scarcity. How do we provide clean water to the 780 million people worldwide living without it? How do we stretch our limited water resources? What are the innovative technologies poised to change the landscape of water?
SURFACE TENSION: THE FUTURE OF WATER was created by Science Gallery at Trinity College, Dublin and is made possible through the generous support of Culture Ireland, the Cordover Family Foundation and the University of Dublin Fund.

Exoplanets: The Search for New Worlds
Dan Harris, Natalie Batalha, Matt Mountain, Sara Seager
Saturday, June 2, 2012 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM
Tishman Auditorium at The New School
A few decades ago, we knew of no other planets beyond those in our solar system. Today, astronomers have confirmed over 700 planets circling other suns and believe billions more lay undiscovered. Join researchers leading the charge as they discuss the tantalizing prospects for an Earth analog that could harbor life—as we know it, and as we never imagined it.

KIDS & FAMILIES
Einstein, Time, and the Coldest Stuff in the Universe
William Phillips
Saturday, June 2, 2012 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
Nobel prize-winning physicist William Phillips returns to the World Science Festival for another spellbinding journey to the lowest temperatures ever recorded. What’s an atomic clock and why does it keep better time when cold? What’s the relationship between speed, temperature and relativity? Through crackling, fizzing, popping experimentation, see what happens when ordinary objects plunge to the edge of absolute zero.

Why We Prevailed: Evolution and the Battle for Dominance
John Hockenberry, Alison Brooks, Ed Green, Chris Stringer, Edward O. Wilson
Saturday, June 2, 2012 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Tishman Auditorium at The New School
We once shared the planet with Neanderthals and other human species. Some of our relatives may have had tools, language and culture. Why did we thrive while they perished? Join evolutionary biologists, geneticists and anthropologists as they share profound insights about the origin of man and retrace our singular journey from fledging prototype to the most dominant species on Earth.

Webcast begins Sunday, June 3 at 12:00 PM on our website.
Join the conversation via Twitter and Facebook. Use hashtags #WSF12 and #prevail to ask questions and share ideas.

Science Sets Sail Aboard the Tall Ship Clearwater
Saturday, June 2, 2012 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Join the World Science Festival and Clearwater educators in raising the sails on the sloop Clearwater, a replica of the 18th-century Dutch tall ships that once traveled the region delivering mail and supplies. Set your course using charts and compasses, and explore the waters of New York City as a citizen scientist. Identify an amazing variety of fish and invertebrates; test for pollution levels; and learn about the pressing environmental issues impacting this historic waterway. All aboard!

Spotlight: Innovation from Unexpected Places
Jason Silva, Cynthia Bir, Don Ingber, Alan Jacobsen, Peter Jäger, Maja Matarić
Saturday, June 2, 2012 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM
Galapagos Art Space
Strip away the trimmings of a traditional science presentation, add cocktails and an intimate lounge setting, and you have WSF Spotlight. This year’s series provides an unobstructed glimpse into the minds of some of the most inventive thinkers. Experiments gone wrong. Happy accidents. Ah-ha moments. Every innovation or scientific breakthrough has a story. Join us as we trace some of the unlikely, entertaining and enlightening paths to discovery.
Must be Age 21 and over to attend.
This program is an extension of Innovation Square, a free outdoor tech fest featuring amazing demos, performances and interactive fun at NYU Polytechnic Institute, MetroTech Plaza, on Saturday, June 2, from 12 PM-7PM.

Spooky Action: The Drama of Quantum Mechanics
Brian Greene
Saturday, June 2, 2012 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM
NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Art
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In 1935, Albert Einstein published a landmark paper revealing that quantum mechanics allows widely separated objects to influence one another, even though nothing travels between them. Einstein called it spooky and rejected the idea, arguing that it exposed a major deficiency in the quantum theory. But, decades later, experiments proved the unsettling concept correct. Join Brian Greene on a journey that brings this insight and the remarkable history of reality-bending quantum mechanics vividly to life.

KIDS & FAMILIES
From the City to the Stars
Mario Livio, Lawrence M. Krauss, Kelle Cruz
Saturday, June 2, 2012 8:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Join professional and amateur astronomers for a free evening of urban stargazing. An outdoor party beneath the Brooklyn Bridge and the twinkling canvas of the night sky, it will be a night to explore and discover the vast wonders of the cosmos. Bring your telescope if you have one, or use one of the dozens we’ll have on hand.
Free Admittance | More Info »

Why We Tell Stories: The Science of Narrative
Jay Allison, Paul Bloom, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Gottschall, Joyce Carol Oates, Keith Oatley, The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre
Saturday, June 2, 2012 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM
The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
Stories have existed in many forms—cave paintings, parables, poems, tall tales, myths—throughout history and across almost all human cultures. But is storytelling essential to survival? Join a spirited discussion seeking to explain the uniquely human gift of narrative—from how neurons alight when we hear a tale, to the role of storytelling in cognitive development, to the art of storytelling itself, which informs a greater understanding of who we are as a species.
Live webcast begins at 8 PM on our website.
Join the conversation via Twitter and Facebook. Use hashtags #WSF12 and #whystories to ask questions and share ideas.
Venues and participants subject to change.
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Sunday
KIDS & FAMILIES
The Ultimate Science Street Fair
Sunday, June 3, 2012 9:59 AM – 5:59 PM
The Ultimate Science Street Fair returns to Washington Square Park with another action-packed day of interactive exhibits, experiments, games and shows, all designed to entertain and inspire. Visit a telepathy lab and control a computer just by thinking about it, learn the science tricks to shooting perfect free-throws with NBA stars, create your own fragrance at the Smell Lab, ride a square-wheeled tricycle, and much more!

Sunday at the Met: The World Science Festival Presents The New Science of Art Attribution
Garrick Utley, Francesca Casadio, Joris Dik, Walter Liedtke
Sunday, June 3, 2012 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bonnie J. Sacerdote Lecture Hall in The Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center
Art historians are increasingly turning to particle physics to authenticate masterpieces by artists like Rembrandt and Van Gogh, as well as to explore mysterious artworks lying beneath surface paintings. Join a provocative discussion about the powerful new collaboration between scientists, curators and conservators that is bringing to light hidden works and revealing important clues about iconic art.

Presented in collaboration with The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Note: Free with Metropolitan Museum admission.

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Beauty’s Backlash: Samantha Brick Exposes Penalty of Good Looks

Troll from Daily Mail hits mark, thousands meow

Economist shows science is on her side

The secret of success in marriage

English journalist Samantha Brick excited a great deal of scorn and derision on the Web last week after she wrote a column in the Daily Mail complaining about the downside of being “beautiful”. Viewers were very anxious to point out that she was not beautiful, if that implied great regularity of features, which is what science has confirmed is the chief requirement of the rating.

Ms Brick has slightly squiff eyebrows and a tiny lopsidedness to her mouth, true, but she is quite clearly pretty, attractive, good looking and cute. Anyhow her stories of getting spontaneous tribute from men in the form of gifts from strangers, including a claim that the pilot of a plane sent her a bottle of champagne before takeoff, won over 3000 comments and a busy Twitter topic, with suggestions that she was “deluded”, should “get a mirror”, and so on, but few addressed her basic point, which is that every pretty woman has to deal with the jealousy she excites from her own sex:

Too Pretty” Columnist Samantha Brick Ridiculed

By COLLEEN CURRY
April 3, 2012
Going through life as a “tall, slim, blonde” woman is harder than it looks, according to British columnist Samantha Brick, who has become the focus of criticism and ridicule for writing that her life as a beautiful woman has been especially difficult.

Brick, 41, published a column in the Daily Mail on Tuesday entitled, “‘There are downsides to looking this pretty’: Why women hate me for being beautiful.”

Brick bemoaned having to go through life as a beautiful woman, constantly receiving free champagne and wine from suitors, flirting with male bosses, and angering female friends and co-workers with her looks.

“While I’m no Elle Macpherson,” Brick wrote, “I’m tall, slim, blonde and, so I’m often told, a good-looking woman. I know how lucky I am. But there are downsides to being pretty, the main one being that other women hate me for no other reason than my lovely looks.”

By Wednesday morning, Brick had become the center of a Twitter campaign aiming to take her down a few notches for her perceived vanity. Twitter users created the tongue-in-cheek hashtag #samanthabrickfacts to make jokes about Brick’s alleged beauty.

“James Blunt wrote “You’re beautiful” after he briefly caught sight of Samantha Brick in a crowded place. #samanthabrickfacts,” Tony Cowards wrote on the site.

“Samantha Brick was originally cast in title role in Pretty Woman but Richard Gere vetoed it because she was too pretty,” a user named Susan Cullen said Wednesday.

The Daily Mail’s website, where the column was published, received more than 3,000 comments in response to Brick’s essay, many of which called into question whether Brick was as pretty as she declared. The column was accompanied by seven photos of the alleged British beauty, and anecdotes of occasions when Brick was hated by other women for her looks.

Brick, who was not able to reached for comment, recalls in the column posing next to a male friend for a photograph on his birthday, at the suggesting of the photographer.

“Another woman I barely knew pushed me out of the way, shouting it wasn’t fair on all the other women if I was dominating the snap. I was devastated and burst into tears,” she said.

Brick’s article raised ire with many women for her early accusation in the column that any woman feeling angry at Brick was just jealous.

“If you’re a woman reading this, I’d hazard that you’ve already formed your own opinion about me and it won’t be very flattering. For while many doors have been opened (literally) as a result of my looks, just as many have been metaphorically slammed in my face and usually by my own sex,” she writes.

Brick ponders her relationships with women, noting that she has never been asked to be a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding, often gets snubbed by female neighbors and acquaintances in social situations, and is targeted by married women who think Brick is trying to steal their husbands.

“I’m not smug and I’m no flirt, yet over the years I’ve been dropped by countless friends who felt threatened if I was merely in the presence of their other halves. If their partners dared to actually talk to me, a sudden chill would descend on the room,” Brick said.

Many of those who commented disagreed with Brick’s assessment, writing “Can we get a serving of humble pie with a side order of reality check over here please?” and “Oh get over yourself dear. You are NOT THAT pretty, just average. : VERY average. I think you’ve lost female friends because you’re a conceited delusional prat. Is this a belated April Fool’s story DM?”

Brick, however, notes that she is now looking forward to the time when age will finally fade her beauty, so that she can “blend into the background” in her life.

“I can’t wait for the wrinkles and the grey hair,” she writes.

But following her inflammatory column, Brick’s name and face may be more recognizable than ever before.

“April 3rd will now by known as international Samantha Brick day! #SamanthaBrickFacts,” Twitter user @Rossildinio.

Added another: “Disney have renamed their film ‘Samantha Brick & the Beast.’ #samanthabrickfacts. ”

Science backs Samantha

The amusing thing is that amid all the cacophony of women bitchily proving her point with what she calls “vile messages” on line the Economist noted a scientific study which exactly bears out her complaint.

The piece reports that an Israeli study showed that women rated good looking had to send out an average of 11 resumes for each job interview they won, compared with only seven for the plain Janes.

The researchers ruled out any idea that the pretty ones were being downgraded because they were thought dumb. Seems that the raters in the study did not associated good looks with being less smart.

They concluded that the real factor was the jealousy of the women in the Human Resources departments of the corporations hiring. They would tend to put the good looking women in the circular file to avoid rivals for the attention of the men in the company.

Physical attractiveness and careers – Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful – Attractive women should not include a photo with a job application (Mar 31st 2012 Economist):

AT WORK, as in life, attractive women get a lot of the breaks. Studies have shown that they are more likely to be promoted than their plain-Jane colleagues. Because people tend to project positive traits onto them, such as sensitivity and poise, they may also be at an advantage in job interviews. The only downside to hotness is having to fend off ghastly male colleagues; or so many people think. But research by two Israelis suggests otherwise.

Bradley Ruffle at Ben-Gurion University and Ze’ev Shtudiner at Ariel University Centre looked at what happens when job hunters include photos with their curricula vitae, as is the norm in much of Europe and Asia. The pair sent fictional applications to over 2,500 real-life vacancies. For each job, they sent two very similar résumés, one with a photo, one without. Subjects had previously been graded for their attractiveness.

For men, the results were as expected. Hunks were more likely to be called for an interview if they included a photo. Ugly men were better off not including one. However, for women this was reversed. Attractive females were less likely to be offered an interview if they included a mugshot. When applying directly to a company (rather than through an agency) an attractive woman would need to send out 11 CVs on average before getting an interview; an equally qualified plain one just seven.

At first, Mr Ruffle considered what he calls the “dumb-blonde hypothesis”—that people assume beautiful women to be stupid. However, the photos had also been rated on how intelligent people thought each subject looked; there was no correlation between perceived intellect and pulchritude.

So the cause of the discrimination must lie elsewhere. Human resources departments tend to be staffed mostly by women. Indeed, in the Israeli study, 93% of those tasked with selecting whom to invite for an interview were female. The researchers’ unavoidable—and unpalatable—conclusion is that old-fashioned jealousy led the women to discriminate against pretty candidates.

So should attractive women simply attach photos that make them look dowdy? No. Better, says Mr Ruffle, to discourage the practice of including a photo altogether. Companies might even consider the anonymous model used in the Belgian public sector, where CVs do not even include the candidate’s name.

Secret: Marry the handsome guy or the less beautiful girl

A more important result which the Daily Mail had actually added to the brew a few days before was that trouble arises when one spouse is more attractive than the other:

Downside of dating a beauty: If a woman’s more attractive than her man, the relationship may be doomed

This of course is the crucial factor which disturbs so many relationships and leads to many divorces, since the women who are more attractive than their husbands tend to mate outside marriage to gain their preferred quality of genes for their offspring, which results in ten per cent or more babies mysteriously lacking the genes of their supposed Daddy.

Handsome men do not present the same problem, for some reason, perhaps because they do not have babies themselves, or perhaps because they have the right genes for the plain Jane they have married so from the woman’s point of view there is no problem in that regard.

And as everyone knows it is usually the woman’s decision as to whether a relationship continues or not, as one of the researchers, Rob Burriss, notes.

When you’re in love with a beautiful woman, you really do have to watch your friends.
Just like Dr Hook warned in their 1979 hit, research has revealed that relationships in which the woman is more attractive than the man may be doomed to failure.
However, having a handsome husband or boyfriend is no barrier to the couple’s success, according to the study.

The phenomenon was spotted by British researchers who were studying whether it is true that we tend to pair up with those who are similarly attractive to ourselves.
Their findings could help explain why Angelina Jolie’s marriages to actors Jonny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton barely lasted three years a piece.
In contrast, her relationship with Brad Pitt, one of the world’s most handsome celebrities, has already lasted six years, suggesting she has found her match.

The Stirling, Chester and Liverpool university researchers took photos of the men and women in more than 100 couples. Some had been together for just a few months, others for several years. The individual men and women were then rated on their looks.
The analysis revealed having an attractive husband or boyfriend was no barrier to a relationship succeeding. But, if it was the woman who was the one blessed with good looks, the relationships tended to last only a matter of months, the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin reports.
Researcher Rob Burriss said: ‘This would indicate it is the woman who is in control of whether the relationship continues.
Beautiful women may realise they can afford to pick and choose, he suggests. They may also have the confidence to leave behind relationships that have run their course.
‘Attractive women might generally prefer short-term relationships. They’re better placed to move on.’
It is also possible the relationships end due to jealous behaviour from the woman’s less photogenic partner.
Conversely, the less attractive women ‘may have to make do with what they have, hence the longer relationships’, he said.
Dr Burriss said the idea echoes the Dr Hook song When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman. The lyrics advise a man who is outshone by his woman to ‘watch your friends’ as ‘everybody wants her, everybody loves her, everybody wants to take your baby home’.
The study also found we tend to pair up with people whose facial features have a similar level of symmetry – a sign of beauty – to our own.
Dr Burriss said: ‘Are all men trying to go out with Anne Hathaway or Angelina Jolie, or do you really want to be with someone at the same level of attractiveness as yourself? These findings suggest our ideal partner is one on our own kind of level.’

So the secret of happiness appears to be, marry a woman who is not more attractive than you are, or a man at least as good looking.

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Sherwood Rowland Showed Naysayers, Won Nobel

His warnings of aerosol danger met deaf ears, even at Nature

Classic case of realist in science ostracized

Vindicated, he understood disdain and why

The case of F. Sherwood Rowland, who died on March 10, Saturday, of Parkinsons, is a tutorial in how valid novelty in science reliably meets the same reflex rejection as crackpot notions peddled by amateur researchers.

The Times obituary, F. Sherwood Rowland, 84, Dies; Cited Aerosols’ Danger has the theme in a nutshell: A discovery met with disdain, but later rewarded with a Nobel Prize.

SAN FRANCISCO — F. Sherwood Rowland, whose discovery in 1974 of the danger that aerosols posed to the ozone layer was initially met with disdain but who was ultimately vindicated with the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, died on Saturday at his home in Corona del Mar, Calif. He was 84.

Perhaps computers should be employed to assess new ideas in science, since they can presumably be shorn of the oh-so-human responses of scientists at the top of a field (and its middle and lower rungs too, of course) to an idea which they didn’t think of, which shows that their own ideas are up the creek, and that they missed a key notion:

Industry representatives at first disputed Dr. Rowland’s findings, and many skeptical colleagues in the field avoided him. But his findings, achieved in laboratory experiments, were supported 11 years later when British scientists discovered that the stratospheric ozone layer, which blocks harmful ultraviolet rays, had developed a hole over Antarctica.

The discovery led to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, a landmark international environmental treaty to stop the production of the aerosol compounds known as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFC’s, and other ozone-depleting chemicals and to eliminate inventories of them.

Along with a colleague, Mario Molina, Dr. Rowland found that chlorinated fluorocarbons, the supposedly inert building blocks of aerosol sprays that were then common in deodorants, hair care products and grocery freezers had the potential to deplete the ozone layer to dangerous levels.

In a paper published in the journal Nature in 1974, the two scientists showed that when CFC’s rise into the stratosphere, they are bombarded by powerful doses of ultraviolet rays. A single chlorine atom knocked free, they found, can absorb more than 100,000 ozone molecules. More disturbing, the atoms could linger in the stratosphere for up to a century.

“The clarity and startling nature of what Molina and Rowland came up with — the notion that something you could hold in your hand could affect the entire global environment, not just the room in which you were standing — was extraordinary,” Ralph Cicerone, the president of the National Academy of Sciences and a longtime colleague of Dr. Rowland, said in an interview.

But Rowland was a realist in sociology as well as science, and he survived the trial by fire unscathed.

“Back in the late ’70s and early ’80s — I call it the cold war period for ozone depletion — there were a lot of potshots taken at Sherry,” said Dr. Donald Blake, a colleague of Dr. Rowland’s at Irvine, “and I don’t think his pulse went up by a beat.”

He added: “How could he remain so calm? Because he believed what he did was right.”….

“He mentioned to me that he had not been invited to any chemistry department to give a lecture” from about 1975 to 1985, Dr. Blake recalled. Dr. Cicerone said, “You could probably name any top chemistry department in the country and say, ‘Did they invite Rowland to lecture in that period?’ And the answer would be no.”

But the resistance was understandable in many ways, and Rowland forgave it.

Dr. Cicerone, whose own work established the possibility of a chlorine chain reaction, said “the situation 30, 35, even 40 years ago was so different.”

“The territory they stepped into and defined were so new that most scientists felt they didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “They didn’t feel prepared — or they felt the linkage with an ongoing human activity was too big a step.” ….

When Dr. Rowland was asked around the time of the Nobel ceremony if he considered himself a hero, he said, Not really. As Dr. Cicerone paraphrased his reply: When you make a big discovery, you either show that everybody else was wrong, or that they missed something important. How do you think that makes them feel?

Here’s a description of how his discovery came about in the University of Chicago Magazine. It describes not only how it was made but how the reaction was much more resistant than the Times politely suggests.

Graduate students vanished, for example, knowing on which side their bread was buttered. The industry speculated darkly that he was an agent of the KGB and mounted the usual snow job against an “unproven” claim.

Shades of Peter Duesberg of Berkeley and his ostracism after he reviewed HIV/AIDS in 1987 and found it was a false description of AIDS, without any basis in evidence, and that HIV was an inert retrovirus that did not cause any illness whatsoever.

Of course if reason is blocked physical evidence for a negative as in notHIV is almost impossible to find so the physical evidence for Rowland and Melino’s fears which changed everything after eleven years of rejection was not repeated in Duesberg’s case, so his professional ostracism has burdened him now for 25 years and withheld from society much of the potential benefits of his pioneering research in cancer which is so promising:

In the early 1970s, Rowland, alreadyan expert in the chemical reactions of radioactive isotopes and their useas tracers of chemical and biological processes, was stepping down as chair of the Irvine chemistry department and looking for a new avenue of investigation. As a graduate student at Chicago–where he was best known as a standout varsity basketball and baseball player–he had studied under Willard Libby. Libby would later win a Nobel for developing the carbon-14 dating technique, which uses the formation, by cosmic rays, of a long-lived radioisotope incorporated into carbon dioxide to date plants and animal tissues up to 45,000 years old. Much of the carbon-14 chemistry takes place in the lowerstratosphere, and Rowland now found himself drawn to environmental applications of radioactivity.

Attending a chemistry-meteorology workshop in early 1972,he learned that James Lovelock, a British biospheric scientist, had developed a highly sensitive instrument to measure trace organic compounds in the atmosphere. Taking air samples from shipboard in the North and South Atlantic, Lovelock had detected one particular CFC throughout the troposphere, the 6-to-10-mile-high layer of the atmosphere between the earth’s surface andthe stratosphere. Lovelock was enthusiastic about the finding: He thoughtthe CFC molecule would prove an excellent tag for air-mass movements and wind direction, since its chemical stability would prevent its removal from the atmosphere. Rowland, however, saw the matter differently.

“I knew that such a molecule could not remain inert in the atmosphere forever,” Rowland says, “if only because solar photochemistry at high altitudes would break it down.” The next year, when he submitted his regular yearly proposal to the Atomic Energy Commission, which had supported his research for 17 years, Rowland posed a new question: What would eventually become of CFC molecules in the atmosphere?

With Molina, a photochemist from Mexico City who had just joined his lab, Rowland began investigating the atmospheric fate of CFCs.The two knew that, like all molecular gases, the CFCs could be broken down into their constituent atoms by short-wavelength ultraviolet radiation from the sun once they reached the stratosphere, from 12 to 23 miles up,where the sunlight is unshielded by the ozone layer.

After careful study, Rowland and Molina ruled out any chance that the CFCs might be rinsed out of the atmosphere by rainfall, as these organic compounds are insoluble in water. Nor was there any other known mechanism for the removal of the inert CFCs from the troposphere. Moreover, Lovelock’s measurements suggested that the total amount of a particular CFC in the troposphere was, in fact, equal to the total amount of it ever manufactured–which by that time, for all CFCs combined, totaled several million tons.

Although heavier than air, the CFC molecules would eventually bounce up to the stratosphere, Rowland and Molina figured, and get zapped by the high-energy ultraviolet light, which would break off an atom of chlorine. Each free chlorine atom would immediately react with a molecule of ozone, a highly unstable form of molecular oxygen that contains three atoms rather than the usual two. This would initiate a lengthy and complex chain reaction, destroying many thousands of ozone molecules for every chlorine atom unleashed in the stratosphere.

Rowland and Molina shared a chilling realization: A major, possibly irreversible, catastrophe had already been set in motion. Working from rough calculations, they estimated that an eventual loss of approximately 20 to 40 percent of the ozone was possible. This was a few days before Christmas of 1973.

“It was like staring into a pit and not being able to see the bottom,” Rowland recalls. “Molina and I had discussed the overall calculations, and we were looking for flaws, and each of us would sort of realize that as far as we could tell, there were no flaws.

“I’d come home at the end of the day,” Rowland continues, “and my wife would ask me how the work was going. ‘Good,’I’d say, ‘but it might mean the end of the world.'” Her reaction, Rowland says, was to immediately throw out every aerosol can in the house.

“Fifteen down,” he says, “six billion to go.”

Initially, Joan Lundberg Rowland, PhB’46, was one of very few people to act quickly on the news. There was no urgent phone call to Washington. “I didn’t know anybody,” her husband explains. “Not anybody in power, not anybody in the press.”

In January 1974, convinced of the veracity and gravity of their findings, Rowland and Molina submitted an article to the British journal Nature–where it languished for eight months. Even after publication, the news media paid little attention until the two chemists presented their findings at a September meeting of the American Chemical Society in Atlantic City.

By that time, they had calculated that if CFC production continued at the then current (peak) rate of about a million tons per year, between 7 and 13 percent of the ultraviolet-blocking ozone would be destroyed within a century. They told the meeting that society could expect a significant rise in skin cancer, crop damage, and perhaps even changes in global weather patterns.

Within a few weeks, their calculations for ozone loss were confirmed by Crutzen, a meteorologist then working at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colorado, and by other groups as well. Still others produced numbers that suggested even more rapid destruction of the ozone layer.

Now the press took notice, as did the environmentalists, who called for an immediate ban on the purchase of CFC aerosol sprays. The National Academy of Sciences announced it would mount a full-scale investigation, and congressional hearings were soon under way.

Nor did the CFC industry remain inert. Its response was to insist that ozone destruction was just a hypothesis, based on computer projections–and that there was no proof the molecules would ever reach the stratosphere, let alone behave so malevolently if they did. The industry position was that CFCs should be regarded as innocent until proven guilty–prompting one government official to retort: “We cannot afford to give chemicals the same constitutional rights that we enjoy under the law.” But government action was not forthcoming; it was not until 1978 that the U.S. unilaterally banned the use of CFCs in aerosol sprays. Other countries did not follow suit until the Antarctic ozone hole was found in 1984.

The 40-percent ozone depletion and the 10-percent increase in ultraviolet penetration discovered at the British Antarctic Survey’s Halley Bay station would lead to the landmark Montreal Protocol of 1987,in which many of the world’s developed nations quickly agreed to halve CFC production by 1999. In 1990, as evidence of ozone loss continued to mount, delegates took the protocol a step further, agreeing to a total phaseout by the year 2000. The catastrophic loss of ozone also quieted Rowland’s aerosol-industry detractors, who had mounted a withering attackon him since 1974.

“One of the people in the industry in an interview suggested that [Molina and I] were probably agents of the KGB,” Rowlandre calls. He had spent much of that 11-year period testifying at congressional hearings and speaking at universities and scientific conferences around the world. He had been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he received the American Physical Society’s Leo Szilard Award for physics in the public interest. But he was also shunned by the chemistry community. From the time he and Molina published in 1974 until DuPont agreed to halt production of CFCs in 1988, he says, he did not get any applications from American graduate students or postdocs from outside the California system. “American grad students are pretty cagey,” he says. Most of his university speaking invitations during that time came from toxicology or atmospheric-science departments.

Still, Rowland–a man well known for his patience–is magnanimous even to the point of defending his erstwhile industry adversaries.”Every young person I ever knew getting into chemistry or physics really thought that they were on the good side and were trying to make life better for people,” he explains. “So it came as a disturbing shock to them that people were saying that some things that they had done weren’t actually making life better, but worse.”

Rowland says that in a world polarized between tree huggers on one extreme and midnight dumpers on the other, he is closer to being an environmentalist. But his natural home is with academic scientists;the 1974 Nature paper, he notes, was his 171st publication. In 1971 he even drew the ire of environmentalists by showing that levels of mercuryfound in tuna were in fact no higher than those in specimens preserved decades earlier…..

(Continued on this page at the University of Chicago Magazine, continuing with this well written biography Clean UP Hitter: Long before F. Sherwood Rowland began to study chlorofluorocarbons,the man-made gases were a household force. His work in atmospheric chemistry made CFCs a household word–and halting their production a global issue, by William Burton)

A fine outcome to a classic case study of what happens to a fine scientist who discovers something that disturbs the status quo, but because he has character, integrity and further research bears him out can overcome the resistance of those who do not think before they think, which large, perhaps overwhelming portion of the human race we are sorry to say includes most scientists, whose brains reject new ideas with the same alacrity as the rest of us.

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Celia Farber’s New Blog Carries Revealing State Department Text on “HIV/AIDS”

CDC Admits HIV/AIDS Not Infectious Threat

But It Always Was Laughable Fiction

A Child’s Guide to Why HIV/AIDS IS Impossible

Lest we forget, the CDC and the State Department over two years ago agreed that HIV/AIDS really wasn’t an infectious disease threat, and “HIV positives” could come into the US freely.

Celia Farber in her spanking new updated blog Truth Barrier reproduces the entire order at Wikileaks Cable: US Gov. Ceases HIV Testing Visa Applicants and Calls HIV infection “Not A Communicable Disease That Is Of Significant Public Health Risk.”

She reminds us in this way that the CDC has told the State Department – and the rest of the world, if they care to read it – that HIV/AIDS is in effect not an infectious disease. Quite how one reconciles that with the propaganda that it is busy creating a world wide pandemic and vast sums must be spent to combat its deadly spread is the puzzle that presents itself to any upright citizen who likes to believe that government bodies, let alone scientists, know what they are talking about.

Alas, a few moments thought will reveal the answer: they don’t. Any and all suggestions that HIV/AIDS transmits between people is nonsense.

Really? Really.

The post on Celia’s Truth Barrier included a Comment which roused this writer to explain why this is the case, as to a child, a child one has the sad task of explaining at some point that Father Christmas is a fiction.

For anyone who still hasn’t got the point as expressed in the previous post, here it is laid out ABC:

Why HIV/AIDS IS Nonsense: A Child’s Guide

“However, it is obviously a serious infectious disease threat worldwide.” – “Jason Statham”

Where precisely did you learn this startling fact, Mr Jason S? Since there have been more or less the same total of 1 million HIV positives in the US since the start of this “serious worldwide disease threat”, it seems that the US has entirely escaped it. Can you explain this? Was there some magic potion that the CDC handed out? Or was it simply that this is the finest country in the world, and boasts a public not very susceptible to fictional “serious infectious disease threats” which don’t pan out in any visible way?

As a matter of fact, the HIV tests test for antibody to HIV rather than the virus, which apparently is so overwhelmingly missing in AIDS patients even when they are dying that it is impossible to find without using PCR, which can find the equivalent of a needle in six acres of hayfield.

Since HIV is entirely missing in AIDS patients, as I say, and all that can be found is antibodies, can you tell me please how this can possibly be an “infectious disease” of any kind, even one that is “non contagious” through”casual contact”?

I mean, how are your antibodies to HIV contagious? Your personal antibodies cannot be transmitted to any other person, can they? And if they could ever possibly be transmitted, then hey presto! that person would also enjoy immunity to HIV and all its ghastly supposed depredations.

The suggestion that HIV/AIDS is “infectious” is that HIV antibodies are infectious, which is obvious twaddle, and that you or any smarty pants upright citizen could peddle such twaddle even in your own mind is one of the most amazing effects of CDC and NIAID propaganda, comparable only to the claptrap purveyed by established religion of the kind in which most of us were brought up. You go around convinced that your antibodies can cause a pandemic!

Amazing!

In case you don’t know what I am talking about, please refer to any child’s elementary textbook on how the immune system guards us against infections by creating antibodies. Those antibodies then conquer the infection and render us immune to further invasions. This is what happens in AIDS to HIV. We are left with antibodies to HIV. If we are still sane we are very happy about this. Or should be.

Then the ignorant and the venal arrive with antibody test kits, measure us as antibody positive, call it incorrectly “HIV positive”, and tell us we will infect the world, and need noxious drugs in large and extremely expensive amounts to carry on living, until we die of what are evidently drug effects in at least half the 17,000 AIDS deaths registered by the CDC annually in the US even now.

And you swallow this stuff, Mr Jason S. But so does the entire world, with the few exceptions that can think for themselves.

When all they have to do is think for approximately two minutes, along the lines I have just stated, to see this is such claptrap that it rends asunder the very fabric of the universe of common sense that we know and love.

But you apparently prefer to swim in the bog of inanity and puerile drivel created by Dr Anthony “Don’t blame me I have to do what the gays ask!” Fauci and his friends, Bob “I deserve a Nobel prize and they forgot me!” Gallo, and David “They threw me out of Rockefeller but I climbed back into CalTech!” Baltimore, and other such self serving antiscientists, rather than the most expert, authoritative and accomplished Peter Duesberg of Berkeley, who has explained all this for 27 years with the help of Celia Farber, David Rasnick, and a host of worthy lay supporters who have written over thirty books complementing Duesberg’s excellent Inventing the AIDS Virus, which stands as true and helpful now as it did when published last century.

Exactly as true and helpful. Nothing has changed. Buy it!

So Mr “Jason S”, what are you? Presumably you have taken the day or century off from thinking for yourself.

Otherwise a man as smart as you, so sure of the eternal verities of HIV/AIDS propaganda and the “serious infectious threat worldwide” we face from transferring HIV antibodies to each other, could be thought a shill for the scientific spivs and charlatans who have fed their careers and bank accounts with this fiction, which has to be the most blatantly silly fairy tale that ever raised its deadly head in science and in medicine.

Hello? Mr Jason S? Hello? Are you hearing what I say? Are you even awake? Helloooooooo!

Nurse, see to this man, he is walking around with his eyes shut.

Public credulity

It is really quite remarkable how one can persuade the entire world that utter nonsense is real simply by standing on a platform holding up a sign saying “I am an expert scientist”.

We direct all who seek accessible and well written undermining of the HIV/AIDS fiction to the seminal article by Celia Farber in Harpers six years ago, Out of control:
AIDS and the corruption of medical science
, which stands as true today as it did when it was published six years ago, contrary to the Wkipedia entry on Celia Farber, which has been bowdlerized by her political opponents, the champions of HIV/AIDS.

“Scientifically discredited” it was not, despite the best efforts of Robert “Why didn’t they give me the Nobel prize?” Gallo and his friends, who wrote a long letters claiming a list of errors none of which proved out.

In fact the only error we could find was to do with a cuckoo clock, and nothing to do with HIV/AIDS.

As is usual with Harpers, it was fact checked properly.

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‘The Scientist’ Smears Duesberg in Censorship Story

Economist Nicoli Nattrass Represents Censorship as Serving Science

But She References Excellent Duesberg Journal Article for All to Read

Let’s See If Our Corrective Comment Gets OK’d

David Crowe who runs the best site of the Web for the latest news on the political attacks on and suppression of the true science of AIDS (which is that it is not HIV that causes it, and all of it has to be rewritten taking out that eternally stupid and prima facie ridiculous notion) has noted on Facebook the latest outrage in this respect. One Nicoli Nattrass has written an egregiously upside down report on the attempted censorship of Peter Duesberg latest excellent article on bad HIV/AIDS science.

This piece of scientific, intellectual and moral outrage is perpetrated at The Scientist website and is titled “The Specter of Denialism: Conspiracy theories surrounding the global HIV/AIDS epidemic have cost thousands of lives. But science is fighting back” and reads as follows:

There is a substantial body of evidence showing that HIV causes AIDS—and that antiretroviral treatment (ART) has turned the viral infection from a death sentence into a chronic disease.1 Yet a small group of AIDS denialists keeps alive the conspiratorial argument that ART is harmful and that HIV science has been corrupted by commercial interests. Unfortunately, AIDS denialists have had a disproportionate effect on efforts to stem the AIDS epidemic. In 2000, South African President Thabo Mbeki took these claims seriously, opting to debate the issue, thus delaying the introduction of ART into the South African public health sector. At least 330,000 South Africans died unnecessarily as a result.2,3

The “hero scientist” of AIDS denialism, University of California, Berkeley, virologist Peter Duesberg, argues that HIV is a harmless passenger virus and that ART is toxic, even a cause of AIDS. He has done no clinical research on HIV and ignores the many rebuttals of his claims in the scientific literature.4,5 As I describe in my new book, The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back, this has prompted further direct action against Duesberg by the pro-science community.

In 1993, John Maddox, then editor of Nature, complained that Duesberg was “wrongly using tendentious arguments to confuse understanding of AIDS,” and that because he was not engaging as a scientist, he would no longer be granted an automatic “right of reply.” More recently, in 2009, AIDS activists and HIV scientists, including Nobel Laureate Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, complained to Elsevier, the publisher of Medical Hypotheses, when that journal published a paper by Duesberg defending Mbeki and denying the existence of the African AIDS epidemic. Medical Hypotheses had a policy against peer review, so Elsevier asked the Lancet to oversee a peer review of the paper. When the panel of reviewers unanimously recommended rejection, Elsevier permanently withdrew it and forced Medical Hypotheses to introduce peer review. Last December Duesberg published a reworked version in an Italian journal,6 sparking further controversy and protests from the journal’s editorial board, one of whom has already resigned.

Efforts by scientists to defend science are supplemented by pro-science activists operating on the Internet. Physician, author, and blogger Ben Goldacre argued in his Guardian column Bad Science that a “ragged band of bloggers from all walks of life” has been very successful at exposing pseudoscientific claims and fraudulent alternative practitioners selling quack cures. The Internet now poses a double-edged sword for AIDS denialists. It is becoming a tougher place for people to sequester themselves in a comfortable cocoon of the like-minded. While the web allows denialists to advertise their ideas and build networks, it also exposes potential converts to scientific rebuttals of their claims, as well news about the deaths of the “living icons”—high-profile HIV-positive people who rejected ART.

The key living icon for AIDS denialism was Christine Maggiore. She founded Alive & Well AIDS Alternatives (an organization with Duesberg on its board), campaigned against the use of ART to prevent mothers passing HIV to their babies, and met President Mbeki. Despite her 3-year-old daughter’s succumbing to AIDS, Maggiore remained staunchly opposed to HIV science and ART. She opted for alternative therapies and died at the age of 52, from AIDS-related infections.

Scientists often have a tough time responding to antiscience conspiracy theories because their integrity is impugned by the conspiratorial moves made against them. But precisely because living icons like Maggiore lent credence to AIDS denialism by appearing to offer “living proof” that the science of HIV pathogenesis and treatment is wrong, pro-science activists maintain a list of denialists who have died of AIDS. The weapons of science and reason are still very much in contention, but the gloves have come off in a broader struggle over credibility.

Nicoli Nattrass is director of the AIDS and Society Research Unit at the University of Cape Town and visiting professor at Yale University. Her research on the economics and politics of antiretroviral treatment helped change South African AIDS policy. Read an excerpt of The AIDS Conspiracy.

References
PA Volberding and SG Deeks, “Antiretroviral therapy and management of HIV infection,” Lancet, 376: 49-62, 2010 ↩
P Chigwedere, et. al., “Estimating the lost benefits of antiretroviral drug use in South Africa,” JAIDS, 49:410-15, 2008 ↩
N Nattrass, “AIDS and the scientific governance of medicine in post-apartheid South Africa,” Afr Affairs, 427:157-76, 2008 ↩
P Chigwedere and M. Essex, “AIDS denialism and public health practice,” AIDS Behav, 14:237-47, 2010 ↩
N Nattrass, “Defending the boundaries of science: AIDS denialism, peer review and the Medical Hypotheses saga,” Soc Health Ill, 33:507-21, 2011 ↩
PH. Duesberg, et. al., “AIDS since 1984: No evidence for a new, viral epidemic–not even in Africa,” Ital J Anat Embryol, 116:73–92, 2011 ↩

The comments include some explanation of the wretched Natrass’ activities in this line, which are of course entirely predictable given her affiliations, the most recent of which is an invitation to visit Yale and teach the hapless students there. There was a time when such lame brains engaged in servile self promotion would not have been offered a visit to Yale but apparently that era is long past.

We wrote a comment to try and set the framework for the story and comments straight, but since it probably won’t pass muster we publish it here too just in case it fails to appear:

It should be noted that Peter Duesberg is casually savaged here in this report of the unprofessional political censorship he has suffered in science, without regard to his enormous body of work published in peer reviewed journals from Science and Nature on downwards justifying his dismissal of HIV as the cause of “HIV/AIDS”, his explanation of HIV/AIDS as in fact being other diseases and ailments rrewritten as “HIV/AIDS”, and his pioneering work in cancer and aneuploidy which is recognized widely as leading to a new and productive approach in cancer which replaces the cul-de-sac of “cancer genes” (oncogenes). Duesberg has been politically vilified but not scientifically disproven (he is unanswered in the two of the very highest journals in which he originally published his demolition of “HIV/AIDS” theory, Cancer Research 1987 and Proceedings of the National Academy 1989, see his site for exact references). His mistreatment should not be echoed in casual remarks or amateur superficialities which reflect lack of research into his position and taking for granted that his vilification by scientific and media opponents is justified. It isn’t.

As a professional science reporter I have followed this absurd situation (absurd and cruel and infinitely wasteful in money and in lives) for 28 years and it has long been quite clear that Peter Duesberg is a fine scientist, and his opponents are trying to maintain nonsense in HIV/AIDS. It is a mistake to assume that notorious heretics in science are wrong. Many of them get the Nobel in the end. Duesberg deserves one, frankly. I am speaking of qualified heretics, of course. He is more qualified than anyone anywhere now to speak on the true science of so called HIV/AIDS, including the core truth, which should be obvious to any thoughtful person, that it is not the cause of AIDS, regardless of labeling. Be that as it may, the treatment Duesberg has received in an outrage to professional science. No one should thoughtlessly join in. It is important to research the issue properly. I refer readers to my scienceguardian.com for repeated clarifications of this egregious distortion of science and smearing of an exceptionally qualified scientist, and a long list of further references to reliable sites and journal articles on the topic.

We always wonder how many readers are sophisticated enough not to swallow this kind of propaganda peddled self-servingly by Nattrass to promote her book (the author allowed to review her own book!) without checking its source, but we doubt there are very many in the world who are sufficiently wary compared to the millions high and low who automatically assume they are being fed the gospel.

Years ago we got our own lengthy piece in The Scientist about efforts to censor Duesberg in the Proceedings of the National Academy where he scotched the HIV nonsense in his biggest broadside ever (a 10 page close spaced article with about 230 footnotes). But that era of even handed editing is past at The Scientist, it is sad to see.

The lack of independent thought and political attitude among editors even in science is one of the great disillusions of working as an investigative science reporter.

UPDATE:

The comment was evidently rejected, possibly because too long. So this was substituted, and it seems to have passed muster:

Peter Duesberg’s evisceration of the claim that HIV causes AIDS is scorned by Nattrass, a person who has exploited this claim in her career, but she cannot quote any scientific journal article proving it, for the simple reason there is none. She scorns Duesberg’s science and thoroughly approves the censorship he has suffered without regard to his enormous body of work published in peer reviewed journals from Science and Nature on downwards justifying his dismissal of HIV as the cause of “HIV/AIDS”, and his pioneering work in cancer and aneuploidy which is recognized widely as leading to a new and productive approach. Duesberg remains unanswered in the two very highest journals in which he originally published his demolition of “HIV/AIDS” theory, Cancer Research 1987 and Proceedings of the National Academy 1989. Until he is, the censorship should be stopped, even though it powerfully demonstrates the fact that the HIV claimants feel too vulnerable to behave like true scientists.

Of course, what is really needed is an Op Ed in the New York Times but given that newspaper’s servile accord from the very beginning with the fairy tale peddled by Anthony Fauci at the NIAID, the chances of that seem slim as long as Lawrence Altman is their goto man for the truth in this concealed scientific dispute.

Certainly it would have to be well written, and carry influential support along with it.

UPDATE 2

How odd. Now The Scientist has published both my Comments after all, which is a bit redundant, though not entirely. There were others in the pro Duesberg, anti censorship camp, too, some usefully pointing out that Nattrass’ views are those of a non specialist who has managed to ride the HIV/AIDS claim to the higher echelons of South African academic circles and abroad probably without ever considering it could be be wrong, or understanding why.

The Scientist deserves a few points for including dissenting Comments, especially since the editor in 2004 would not even consider our reviewing Harvey Bialy’s brilliant book about Duesberg’s life in science, Oncogenes, Aneuploidy, and AIDS: A Scientific Life and Times of Peter H. Duesberg.

But of course any periodical which purports to be about science for scientists has no business printing the word “denialist” as in “AIDS denialist” to describe those who dissent from the prevailing paradigm. This prejudicial word is a favorite of the defenders of the HIV/AIDS claim, who like to imply that AIDS dissenters have no more merit to their view than Holocaust “deniers”.

We are sorry to see that Nattrass has not only suckered the editor into printing a bit of truly unscientific propaganda against the fine scientist Peter Duesberg but also a sales flyer for her own book and one including this word instead of the proper label for those who deny the accuracy and validity of the now universal belief that HIV causes AIDS, which is “HIV dissident”.

But then she is no scientist, but a mere sociologist, a breed which does not always understand good statistics, let alone good science, which gives her a lot in common with most HIV/AIDS researchers.

Of course the record of psychologists in the HIV/AIDS debate is even worse, given the atrocious inanity of the analysis by clinical psychologist Seth Kalichman, in his book Denying AIDS: Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, and Human Tragedy, and his blog Denying AIDS (interesting how often sites inimical to the truth purveyed by Duesberg manage to coopt the names which imply that he is right!…another example is the site AIDSTruth.org, which is actually a propaganda site run by John Moore of Cornell Medical Center and other HIV peddlers who like to contort the truth in their cause).

Anyhow here are The Scientist comments so far:

Showing 14 of 14 comments

raymondffoulkes
The term ‘denialism’ has no place in a scientific journal. It is the right of everybody to question any hypothesis or theory; and, for scientists, it is a duty. If a hypothesis has merit it should be capable of standing on its own two feet. There is no piece of apparatus as powerful as the methodology of science, and we must absolutely resist its hijacking by propagandists – however well meaning they may be.

Like Reply
03/08/2012 10:16 AM 5 Likes

Ciocccholly
Don’t be taken in by the Nattrass nonsense.

She spends way too much time jetting here and there and attending endless rallies that is has distorted her thinking.

Nattrass garbles the history of sicknesses like TB, malnutrition and upper respiratory infections in South Africa, ignores the well-known medical history of KwaZulu and eastern Transkei, embraces the racist use of Africans as guinea pigs for western drug companies, and is such a dogmatist that she is blind to why the labor-intensive sex miseducation programs are such flops across Africa.

Save your money folks.

Instead re-read Ludwik Fleck’s indispensable *Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact* (U. of Chicago Press, 1979) to see what a con job and anti-science hustle AIDS has become. Nicoli Nattrass is one of its chief beneficiaries and dogmatic enablers.

(Edited by author 4 days ago)
Like Reply
03/08/2012 12:09 AM 2 Likes

keepitlegal, I graduated from a university in 1962, with a degree in government (some universities call it “political science.” Since retirement I have read daily, and have reviewed college level courses on the philosophies, theories relating to advanced political, economic, historical, scientific and financial issues. I am NOT associated with ANY OTHER entity using the name “keepitlegal,” some of which have taken on that name subsequent to my beginning to use is as a blog name, years ago. I am NOT affiliated with any political party, nor any biased political public relations (propaganda) narrative. I seek to learn, and to think in accord with, analysis of actual events, actual problems in the U. S., and optimally workable solutions to those problems — and am opposed to the opportunistic, self-serving, greedy… spinning of events on part of any organization or interest that puts its own interests ahead of objectivity, accuracy and the good of ALL the people, rather than any self-serving benefit of a few of the people. To the extent that any individual or interest may attain wealth and power without monopolizing, without limiting the power of others to do likewise, without committing fraud, without abusing others… I am fully in support of it. Where and when it abuses and exploits and gouges, I am against that.
I’m sure you will agree that AIDS etiology, symptomology, comparative treatment protocols, and search for a preventive vaccine, are legitimate and important issues.

The best that can be said of the politicization of these issues and the urban legends and conspiracy theories that are attached to them, are hazards resulting from the democratization of information to any and all who wish to know and understand and rationalize such issues.

To read and put into useful perspective the most sophisticated thinking on the subject of how scientists know what they know (and do not know what they do not know) is beyond the motivation or the literacy of most individuals in the world, but there are those — and I am one of them — who believe strongly in “putting the information out there” and hoping for the best.

You are, no doubt, a person who would appreciate the observations of thinkers such as Thomas Kuhn, on what he terms “the structure of scientific revolutions,” and the observations of Witgenstein, Popper, Feirabend and others on the limitations, as well as the accomplishments, of scientific research in conjunction with technological extension of the human senses and application of informal logic to the cause of optimization of coping in humans (individually as well as collectively). Grasping the fuzziness of all observation, measurement and human learning, rationalizing and applying of what is at best fuzzier at the frontiers than most lay persons would ever begin to imagine, it is small wonder that there is fuzziness in the making of some sense of information as it gets ground up and cookie cut to fit the agendas of individuals and self-serving authorships and interest group biases on its way to the lunatic fringe of any population of “learners and users.”

Thank you for the reference. Haven’t read that one.

Shall.

(: > )

Like Reply
03/08/2012 12:39 PM in reply to Ciocccholly

Ciocccholly
I completely agree with you that African AIDS etiology, symptomology, comparative treatment protocols, and search for a preventive vaccine, are legitimate and important issues.
What helps to define and to characterize unscientific books like the latest shrieking accusations from Nattrass is a stubborn and rigid determinism that fails to situate the clinical symptoms that define an AIDS case in Africa (Bangui Definition 1985-2012) in the impoverished living context of rural Africans under apartheid, for instance. She imagines their fevers, diarrhea, persistent coughs, weight loss and associated ailments are somehow derived from their sexual activities!

To paraphrase the old Johnny Lee country song, “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places,” folks like Nattrass continue futilely but energetically to look for an AIDS vaccine, drug interventions and the real cause of those AIDS symptoms in all the wrong places. But they can sure roar through the money in no time and demand more, more, more!

Like Reply
03/08/2012 01:37 PM in reply to keepitlegal 2 Likes

Mark Cannell
As keepitlegal says: “Dogmas can be chiseled in stone, and defended by way of apologetics that treat any debate as blasphemy. Science, on the other hand, not being dogma, must do the best it can do with the information at hand, seek new information, and seek to find the highest and best rationale for explaining current information… and should never shrink from facts that challenge it.”

Quite so, and yet the piece clearly shows the stifling of debate by censorship. This is unacceptable. Another form of censorship is taking place around AGW and in the latter case it seems that the science is far less certain being based only on correlation in imperfect computer models… What is needed is general acceptance that our science is imperfect and that we may be wrong and to always accept healthy debate, avoid hubris and to allow funding to carefully examine/consider the 5% outside the 95% confidence interval. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that AGW theories are wrong, rather that failure to properly explore the deficiencies in our understanding are as large a scientific failing as the inability to accept a hypothesis such as HIV causes AIDS.

Like Reply
03/04/2012 03:11 AM 3 Likes

Skepticnyc
It should be noted that Peter Duesberg is casually savaged here in this report of the unprofessional political censorship he has suffered in science, without regard to his enormous body of work published in peer reviewed journals from Science and Nature on downwards justifying his dismissal of HIV as the cause of “HIV/AIDS”, his explanation of HIV/AIDS as in fact being other diseases and ailments rrewritten as “HIV/AIDS”, and his pioneering work in cancer and aneuploidy which is recognized widely as leading to a new and productive approach in cancer which replaces the cul-de-sac of “cancer genes” (oncogenes). Duesberg has been politically vilified but not scientifically disproven (he is unanswered in the two of the very highest journals in which he originally published his demolition of “HIV/AIDS” theory, Cancer Research 1987 and Proceedings of the National Academy 1989, see his site for exact references). His mistreatment should not be echoed in casual remarks or amateur superficialities which reflect lack of research into his position and taking for granted that his vilification by scientific and media opponents is justified. It isn’t.
As a professional science reporter I have followed this absurd situation (absurd and cruel and infinitely wasteful in money and in lives) for 28 years and it has long been quite clear that Peter Duesberg is a fine scientist, and his opponents are trying to maintain nonsense in HIV/AIDS. It is a mistake to assume that notorious heretics in science are wrong. Many of them get the Nobel in the end. Duesberg deserves one, frankly. I am speaking of qualified heretics, of course. He is more qualified than anyone anywhere now to speak on the true science of so called HIV/AIDS, including the core truth, which should be obvious to any thoughtful person, that it is not the cause of AIDS, regardless of labeling. Be that as it may, the treatment Duesberg has received in an outrage to professional science. No one should thoughtlessly join in. It is important to research the issue properly. I refer readers to my scienceguardian.com for repeated clarifications of this egregious distortion of science and smearing of an exceptionally qualified scientist, and a long list of further references to reliable sites and journal articles on the topic.

Like Reply
03/08/2012 01:19 AM 1 Like

alexandru
Congratulation!

keepitlegal – *It is the job of
science to discover phenomena, to experiment, to seek ever newer and better
models for explaining.*

Brian
Hanley – *I think just answering them is probably the most productive
thing to do.*

Proverbs 25.2 – *We honour God for what He conceals; we honour kings for what they
explain!*

Proverbs 1.22 – *Foolish
people! How long do you want to be foolish? How long will you enjoy pouring
scorn on knowledge? Will you never learn?*

Not everyone can stay
comfortable at the Office knowledge.

Like Reply
03/02/2012 02:26 PM 2 Likes

Brian Hanley
It’s not hard to answer Duesberg’s questions about HIV.

1. Why does Kaposi’s sarcoma, a cancer of the blood vessels, occur almost
exclusively in gay males and not in heterosexual drug users?

– Because KSHV is transmitted by homosexual practices, and while it is not terribly easy to transmit, it is easier to transmit than HIV. So it has filled out its epidemiological niche among the roughly 40% of MSMs (men who have sex with men) who are highly promiscuous. KSHV is also transmitted in heterosexuals, but heterosexual sexual practices are far less efficient at transmission and heterosexuals have far fewer lifetime sexual contacts.

2. Why is AIDS rarely transmitted by heterosexual contact in Europe but is said to spread rapidly among heterosexuals in Africa?

– Because of:

— a much higher number of sexual contacts in African women in certain classes

— extreme poverty causing women to engage in prostitution with higher frequency

— female genital mutilation creating scars that crack and bleed during sex

— a high rate of genital herpes with lesions that improve transmission

— because of sexual practices such as putting sand or dirt on a man’s penis to increase friction and cause pain and bleeding, mixing blood of the partners in the vagina

— civil war and civil disturbance leading to rape

3. If AIDS is caused by a virus, why has it been impossible for researchers to develop a vaccine after 20 years and millions of dollars spent?

– It has also been impossible to develop a vaccine for TB, malaria and Dengue.

– Not every disease can be vaccinated against, because the human immune system cannot defeat every disease. No person has ever been found who naturally recovered from HIV. There are only a rare few elite controllers and long-term-non-progressors.

-Elite controllers are an artifact of probability. HIV variation is a matter of probability, and the exact antibodies produced are also a matter of probability. Win the lottery on both and you have an elite controller. Win the lottery on one, and you have an elite controller for a while. There is also an interaction with the strain of HIV contracted.

– Long-term-non-progressors in some cases have mutations that protect them from destroying their T-cells despite high viral loads. Duesberg is correct that viral load is not inherently a death sentence, but only if you have the right mutation(s). Studying this population has helped develop drug targets.
– Is the rare LTNP population fully understood? No, it’s not. Some may be elite controllers. Some may be elite controllers who will stop being elite eventually. Some may have protective mutations. And some are deluding themselves because it makes them feel better. Some physicians skate on the edge by suggesting a patient or two of theirs is an LTNP when they probably are not and really should be on HAART.

4. Could it be that antiretroviral (ARV) drugs used to attack HIV actually do more harm than good, contrary to the common assumption that they have dramatically reduced AIDS deaths?

– There is no evidence for that. Duesberg’s writeups discussed extremely long-term use of tetracycline, poppers and AZT.
– His tetracycline observation is not new. Suppression of bone marrow does happen with long term use, and it used to be that many in the gay community used tetracycline for long periods prophylactically. But so did legions of teenage boys and girls to control acne in the same time period. That demographic did not develop AIDS.

– Poppers are primarily composed of butyl or isobutyl nitrite/nitrate because it’s cheaper than amyl form. These are carcinogenic. But there is no evidence tying AIDS or KSHV to such use.
– Tetracycline and poppers are not part of the pharmacopeia for HIV.
– We have moved far past AZT into targeted development of drugs that interfere
with the HIV life cycle. Those drugs worked in culture, in animals and demonstrably work in humans.
– AZT does have negative effects with long term use and well documented toxicity. But no animal study shows an AIDS syndrome as a toxic effect. Monkey studies show suppression and increases survival, as do human studies. You cannot produce AIDS by dosing with AZT, although you can cause toxicity.

I don’t know why Duesberg has kept after this any more than anyone else does. But it isn’t difficult to answer the questions he has raised, and I think just answering them is probably the most productive thing to do.

(Edited by author 1 week ago)
Like Reply
03/02/2012 01:32 PM 1 Like

Ed Rybicki, Virologist
Brian: while I agree with most of what you say, I think your reply No. 2 needs some attention. The simple fact of heterosexual African HIV transmission is that it is due to sexual networking – and that a LOT of this is due to men being promiscuous with multiple concurrent partners. Your reasons seem to put the load unfairly on women – and on sexual practices that are in fact not mainstream.

And as for Duesberg: I heard him disbelieve hepatitis B in 1986; he is on record as saying that its reverse transcriptase was too inefficient for it to be the virus’s means of replication. He is so caught up in the “correctness” of his world views that he is in fact incapable of being reasoned with.

Like Reply
03/04/2012 05:14 AM in reply to Brian Hanley 1 Like

Ciocccholly
These are absurdly racist and parochial insinuations backed up by zero evidence. What exactly is meant by “promiscuous?”

With all sexually transmitted infections on the rise across U.S. campuses for the past 20 years – chlamydia, genital warts and herpes simplex – why have HIV infections (pure guesswork numbers from nowhere by the CDC) remained so flatlined at an alleged but never verified 40,000 cases a year (now recently upgraded to a flat 50,000)?

Like Reply
03/08/2012 12:15 AM in reply to Ed Rybicki 2 Likes

Skepticnyc
Peter Duesberg’s evisceration of the claim that HIV causes AIDS is scorned by Nattrassa, a person who has exploited ths claim in her career, but she cannot quote any scientific journal article proving it, for the simple reason there is none. She scorns Duesberg’s science and thoroughly approves the censorship he has suffered without regard to his enormous body of work published in peer reviewed journals from Science and Nature on downwards justifying his dismissal of HIV as the cause of “HIV/AIDS”, and his pioneering work in cancer and aneuploidy which is recognized widely as leading to a new and productive approach. Duesberg remains unanswered in the two very highest journals in which he originally published his demolition of “HIV/AIDS” theory, Cancer Research 1987 and Proceedings of the National Academy 1989. Until he is, the censorship should be stopped, even though it powerfully demonstrates the fact that the HIV claimants feel too vulnerable to behave like true scientists.

Like Reply
03/09/2012 01:17 AM

Thomas Lucero
That HIV starts the process that ends in AIDS has long been shown beyond reasonable doubt. But Duesberg’s assertions give us the opportunity to explain in plain, simple language how we know what we know, in both causes and treatment.

It’s important to be open to new information and new hypotheses that are consistent with the facts. I believe it hurts science to try to censor pseudoscience, as in some important cases, we have found that mainstream science was wrong – e.g. germ theory, meteorites. But Duesberg doesn’t have the right to invent his own facts, or to ignore the facts discovered by others.

As for AGW and CO2, we have many millions of temperature observations, with daily/hourly high/low, precipitation, and other measurements. We also have the absorption bands of the major atmospheric gases. Since CO2 and H2O vary by day/night, weekday/weekend (in populated areas), seasonal, and, in the case of CO2, secular changes, it should be possible to run the data, not in the form of models and projections, but historical data, to see what statistically significant information emerges. If it turns out that we need to collect more information in a different way to reduce error bars by enough to draw conclusions, that would also be valuable.

Since according to best available information, we have had ice ages with CO2 above 3000 ppm, it would be good to know what triggers an ice age, and if there are early warning signs. That could save billions of lives and hundreds of thousands of species.

In the current warming environment, we should also try to find out what stopped the temperature rise at the end of the last ice age and at the end of the Younger Dryas. Due to limited information, this is much more difficult than interpreting current data.

Like Reply
03/07/2012 09:29 AM

johnfryer
This illness is devastating and to argue about treatments is missing the point. Nobody ever got a retroviral illness until we started tinkering with DNA and introducing fragments which produced novel illnesses.

We need to research the origin and thereby prevent other illnesses possibly worse affecting us.

GMO food is one example where in Europe mysterious deaths occurred and the survivors face a zero life on medication and tied to hospital bed treatments for life. E Coli never found but present in every ounce of the millions of tons of GMO shipped from America to Europe under the guise that it is good and nourishing for us.

It is another time bomb going off at present as a damp squib.

But AIDS commenced when one person converted GMO organisms into transmissible illness.

My own enquiries 20 years ago solicited the response that no one was interested in the orign of AIDS and one oxbridge professor who was promptly died stopping any top level work continuing.

While we are dismayed that people do not accept AIDS and treatments we forget our knowledge of how a retroviral illness arrived on mans doorstep after being without for a million years is something more important as deaths may continue now for the eternity that man exists on a planet more and more devastated by his errors.

To be blunt science and industry make advances without due regard to the hazards and when government do intervene as they did in 1973 or so they prove totally unfit to respond correctly. (Asilomar conference).

Like Reply
03/05/2012 09:17 AM

keepitlegal, I graduated from a university in 1962, with a degree in government (some universities call it “political science.” Since retirement I have read daily, and have reviewed college level courses on the philosophies, theories relating to advanced political, economic, historical, scientific and financial issues. I am NOT associated with ANY OTHER entity using the name “keepitlegal,” some of which have taken on that name subsequent to my beginning to use is as a blog name, years ago. I am NOT affiliated with any political party, nor any biased political public relations (propaganda) narrative. I seek to learn, and to think in accord with, analysis of actual events, actual problems in the U. S., and optimally workable solutions to those problems — and am opposed to the opportunistic, self-serving, greedy… spinning of events on part of any organization or interest that puts its own interests ahead of objectivity, accuracy and the good of ALL the people, rather than any self-serving benefit of a few of the people. To the extent that any individual or interest may attain wealth and power without monopolizing, without limiting the power of others to do likewise, without committing fraud, without abusing others… I am fully in support of it. Where and when it abuses and exploits and gouges, I am against that.
In recent years, there has been a turn in how writers ABOUT science view their role in life, and how they view their non-science-literate reading audience as dependent upon them (the writers) to lead them to enlightenment about what science preaches.

Science, in its most useful hours, is spent in searching for new understanding of the world, the universe, the makeup of things… of how living things cope, of how time and motion and space relate, and how material and energy relate and interact in them.

It is the job of science to discover phenomena, to experiment, to seek ever newer and better models for explaining.

If scientists themselves (as opposed to the increasingly sensationalists journalism that feigns a role of protecting them from being misunderstood) were to become rhetoricians who defend “the right” facts and “the right” interpretations against their antagonists, they would be hampered in that cause by the fact that the gaining of new knowledge is not a dogma but — quite the contrary — the very assault upon science itself.

Yes, science is a process of ever and always challenging its own assumptions, always seeking to overturn the current wisdom, always seeking newer and better syntheses to are better at explaining anomalies that don’t fit current ones.

There is no greater misunderstanding of science than the grossly false and misleading perception science could effectively overturn or squelch any misinformation that would be thrown against it. That is the job of what are known among philosophers as “dogma” and ‘apologetics.”

We humans NEVER have ALL the facts about anything. We NEVER have knowledge CERTAIN. We NEVER have a model of any complex thing that does not sweep some anomalies under the veil of ignorance, in tidying up any set of what are often called “laws” rationalized into place to explain most of (but never all) that goes on in nature.

All scientific models are tentative. They will do until a better one comes along. They can be modified to some exetent, to adapt them to new information that fits only to the extent that a square peg can be forced into a round hole — allowing us to almost explain something if we don’t look at all the troublesome little details.

Dogmas can be chiseled in stone, and defended by way of apologetics that treat any debate as blasphemy. Science, on the other hand, not being dogma, must do the best it can do with the information at hand, seek new information, and seek to find the highest and best rationale for explaining current information… and should never shrink from facts that challenge it.

There is much to be said for taking the findings of science, and, yes, the doubts among scientists, too, to the widest human audience which might kick around ideas about those findings. The alternative would be to provide no information to the non-science-literate, at all.

Science does not, and cannot, stamp out ignorance, nor spend time effectively setting the ignorant right.

Meantime, however, journalism is a commercial product or service. Whether it sells or not, does not depend upon how is describes or mis-describes its subject matter.

I have not read the book titled The Aids Conspiracy: How Science Fights Back. Therefore, I have no grounds for commenting on its contents. For all I know, it may be well written, and may contain many reliable observations and argumentations.
My purpose here is only to point out that its title implies at the very least a mis-characterization of what science does, and at least one about what scientists do.

Hopefully the contents of the book may explain that the title is facetious, and designed only to capture reader interest and, having done that, dispel these false implications.
Like Reply
03/02/2012 11:55 AM

Of course, the last comment – “All scientific models are tentative. They will do until a better one comes along. etc” – is a fine statement of the principles of good science, but as far as practical considerations go, it is silly and naive.

When the retiree keepitlegal acquires more information and experience of infighting among scientists he may better appreciate how often modern science in many ways fails to rise to the standards of the vocational ideal he has in mind. Since the last World War when funding from the federal government began to dominate and steer scientific research, joined in the last forty years by the millions invested in biotech and the ever expanding drug sector, more and more leading scientists have become politically competitive rivals wedded to their funding sources and their prospects for patents and other riches.

No wonder Peter Duesberg has had trouble publishing his dangerous views lately (dangerous to HIV/AIDS proponents, not to science or medicine). HIV/AIDS has become one of the biggest examples of this internal distortion of pure science, with hundreds of billions spent and invested so far. Even though it has been clearly shown by the best man in the field to be a fairy tale, and this should be obvious to any thoughtful newspaper reader who contemplates for more than twenty minutes what he is supposed to believe in HIV/AIDS lore (antibodies a guide to future sickness?! come on, gentlemen), the fierce grip of proponents on this lucrative meme will probably last until they are all gone, and are replaced by a younger generation. As Max Planck remarked, progress in science advances funeral by funeral.

UPDATE: Well, well, that got in as a Comment too!

UPDATE: The Comments have expanded to 26, and are well worth recording in total here, since they include not only a prime nitwit “virologist” ably demonstrating how fatuously the HIV/AIDS claim is defended and the distinguished Duesberg is scorned for debunking it, but have also attracted the inimitably sharp Claus Jensen, one of the few people who point out how provincial and racist HIV/AIDS scientists are when they rationalize how HIV could be pandemically infectious heterosexually in Africa when it was demonstrated incontrovertibly by AIDS research general Nancy Padian that HIV positivity simply won’t transfer at all from one heterosexual to another in the US. This is hardly surprising when it is detected by tests for antibody, rather than the supposed agent itself. No one has yet explained how antibodies could possibly infect another human.

Ed Rybicki, Virologist
google-44a0ee4bcf8bdea874fe556af48095dd Well, your mind is obviously made up! Have you ever met Duesberg? I have – and a couple of other prominent denialists. NONE of whom had actually ever worked on HIV, or another lentivirus – which as a virologist myself, I would have expected is a minimum requirement for their skepticism. Saying that Duesberg and Rasnick and Bialy’s opinions on HIV and AIDS should have as much weight as those of people who DO actually work in the field, is like saying that amateur astronomers are qualified to have authoritative and controversial opinions in theoretical astrophysics.
Google my name and HIV if you want to know my qualifications to have an opinion. I’d be interested to know your qualification.

(Edited by author 1 day ago)
Like Reply
Yesterday 08:14 AM 2 Likes

1Claus_Jensen1
Dear Ed “the Virologist” Rybicki,

We all understand that your job here is not to say anything of interest but simply to lend the weight of your title to lay person Nicoli Natrass’s shrill cries for censorship. Good teamwork.

But you know, it looks to me like you’re issuing a challenge up there; something about qualifications. Have you asked Nicoli Nattrass about her qualifications for having an opinion on HIV? Are they more impressive than Duesberg’s?

Personally, I’d like to know your qualifications for deciding who can have an opinion and who can’t on a given issue? I didn’t see philosophy of science or similar among your formal credentials, although hardcore science fiction features prominently.

I understand that when a scientific paper about astronomy, for example, comes out, you simply read it uncritically and say wow! The next day you read another paper saying the exact opposite and your reaction is emphatically and uncritically wow! The next day yet another paper contradicting both of the previous ones is published, and your reaction, well it’s the latest paper, so this must be the truth, at least until tomorrow. Is that how you read about anything you haven’t personally fondled in a test tube?

Be that as it may, how about putting your money where your much vaunted credentials are by telling us exactly what is wrong with the dissident critique of HIV:

HIV has never been purified and isolated properly, the tests accordingly have no virological gold standard, but are validated against each other in a wholly circular fashion (the Perth Group).

There is nothing special about HIV, no special genes or anything else that offers a satisfactory explanation for all the superpowers virologists and other science fiction fans attribute to it. After 25 years HIV experts have yet to come up with an agreed method of action (how HIV causes AIDS), as witnessed by the fact that HIV infection cannot be mathematically modeled (Duesberg).

Let’s start there. Please educate us about why this is so “fringe”, or why you need to owe your career and your paycheck to HIV to make those observations?

(Edited by author 18 hours ago)
Like Reply
Yesterday 01:57 PM in reply to Ed Rybicki

Ed Rybicki, Virologist
You dodged the question: your qualifications? And if you can’t understand how it is that a virus that infects helper T-cells can cause AIDS, then there’s not a lot of point in trying to explain it to you.

Like Reply
Yesterday 03:09 PM in reply to 1Claus_Jensen1

Eugene Semon
Sir, do I have to be qualified to read in the Journal of Virology that HI virions have never been isolated directly from the plasma of AIDS patients

Like Reply
Yesterday 04:25 PM in reply to Ed Rybicki

Ed Rybicki, Virologist
I flatly refuse to believe you read that in any recent issue of JV – because it’s simply not true.

Like Reply
Yesterday 04:49 PM in reply to Eugene Semon 1 Like

1Claus_Jensen1
No, Ed, the Virologist, I didn’t dodge the question, you were asking it of somebody else.

I, however, asked you directly to refute the Perth Group and Duesberg in your own discipline. You couldn’t. Your answer was a parody of a teenage girl’s “if you don’t understand me it doesn’t matter anyway”.

I’ll humour you anyway though. You have framed your answer deceptively. Of course I can imagine how it would be conceivable for any virus to cause AIDS. That is, I read science fiction as well as you do. But merely being able to conceive of something doesn’t make it so, or a virology degree wouldn’t take more than a week to achieve for people with a rich imagination.

For example, has Robert Gallo not claimed to have discovered other human retroviruses that also have T-cell affinity, but don’t cause AIDS?

And is it not true that some of the proposed mechanisms by which the alleged HIV supposedly kills its victims don’t require infection or only incomplete infection of the particular cell, the so-called bystander killing theory of HIV? As one paper puts it:

“the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) caused by human immunodeficiency virus-1(HIV-1) involves the apoptotic destruction of infected cells (‘direct killing’) and of noninfected cells many of which are immunologically relevant (‘bystander killing’). Without doubt, HIV-1 can induce apoptosis through a cornucopia of different mechanisms”

In other words, Ed, since the ability of a virus to infect T-cells is not a sufficient cause of AIDS, and since it is not even a necessary cause, according to the speculations of virologists, what you and I are able to imagine has no place in a scientific discussion. Even if I were to accept that there is such a thing as a unique, coherent viral entity HIV that infects T-cells, it proves nothing.

And if after this you still can’t guess my humble qualifications, well there’s no point in telling you is there? (-:

(Edited by author 20 hours ago)
Like Reply
Yesterday 04:31 PM in reply to Ed Rybicki

Ed Rybicki, Virologist
My eyesight must be going: I clicked “like” instead of “reply” on your post….

“Even if I were to accept that there is such a thing as a unique, coherent viral entity HIV that infects T-cells…”: what planet are you ON? In Catholic dogma I am afraid we would have to classify you as “invincibly ignorant”: that is, incapable of being educated. And life is too short to try. Suffice it to say I know folk who routinely isolate live HIV from infected people; I have electron micrographs of the virus taken by someone who worked with isolates every day; a family member is Africa’s leading expert on HIV diversity; my wife is responsible for developing the South African HIV vaccines.

We have 6 times more infected people than the whole US, for 6 times less population – giving us a prevalence of 36 times yours, of a scourge that has very real impacts on our society. SO pardon me if I dismiss you out of hand as not being worth the trouble to engage with further, because all you can do is respout the poisonous and irrelevant nonsense of a bunch of dangerous people.

Like Reply
Yesterday 04:58 PM in reply to 1Claus_Jensen1

1Claus_Jensen1
And pardon me me if I say that the HIV prevalence in South Africa is an artifact of unproven assumptions fed into flawed computer modelling and as such epidemiological hocus pocus, which I take it is not your area of expertise, so by your own criteria you are not entitled to an opinion.

Regarding your other claims: I put it to you that what you and your colleagues “isolate” and EM are either markers, bits and pieces of the consensus HI-virus, or so-called molecular clones, which are the results of transfection, not infection. Never the whole, purified virus directly from patient’s plasma (cultured).

Like Reply
Yesterday 05:37 PM in reply to Ed Rybicki

raymondffoulkes
The term ‘denialism’ has no place in a scientific journal. It is the right of everybody to question any hypothesis or theory; and, for scientists, it is a duty. If a hypothesis has merit it should be capable of standing on its own two feet. There is no piece of apparatus as powerful as the methodology of science, and we must absolutely resist its hijacking by propagandists – however well meaning they may be.

Like Reply
03/08/2012 10:16 AM 6 Likes

Ciocccholly
Don’t be taken in by the Nattrass nonsense.

She spends way too much time jetting here and there and attending endless rallies that is has distorted her thinking.

Nattrass garbles the history of sicknesses like TB, malnutrition and upper respiratory infections in South Africa, ignores the well-known medical history of KwaZulu and eastern Transkei, embraces the racist use of Africans as guinea pigs for western drug companies, and is such a dogmatist that she is blind to why the labor-intensive sex miseducation programs are such flops across Africa.

Save your money folks.

Instead re-read Ludwik Fleck’s indispensable *Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact* (U. of Chicago Press, 1979) to see what a con job and anti-science hustle AIDS has become. Nicoli Nattrass is one of its chief beneficiaries and dogmatic enablers.

(Edited by author 6 days ago)
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03/08/2012 12:09 AM 2 Likes

keepitlegal, I graduated from a university in 1962, with a degree in government (some universities call it “political science.” Since retirement I have read daily, and have reviewed college level courses on the philosophies, theories relating to advanced political, economic, historical, scientific and financial issues. I am NOT associated with ANY OTHER entity using the name “keepitlegal,” some of which have taken on that name subsequent to my beginning to use is as a blog name, years ago. I am NOT affiliated with any political party, nor any biased political public relations (propaganda) narrative. I seek to learn, and to think in accord with, analysis of actual events, actual problems in the U. S., and optimally workable solutions to those problems — and am opposed to the opportunistic, self-serving, greedy… spinning of events on part of any organization or interest that puts its own interests ahead of objectivity, accuracy and the good of ALL the people, rather than any self-serving benefit of a few of the people. To the extent that any individual or interest may attain wealth and power without monopolizing, without limiting the power of others to do likewise, without committing fraud, without abusing others… I am fully in support of it. Where and when it abuses and exploits and gouges, I am against that.
I’m sure you will agree that AIDS etiology, symptomology, comparative treatment protocols, and search for a preventive vaccine, are legitimate and important issues.

The best that can be said of the politicization of these issues and the urban legends and conspiracy theories that are attached to them, are hazards resulting from the democratization of information to any and all who wish to know and understand and rationalize such issues.

To read and put into useful perspective the most sophisticated thinking on the subject of how scientists know what they know (and do not know what they do not know) is beyond the motivation or the literacy of most individuals in the world, but there are those — and I am one of them — who believe strongly in “putting the information out there” and hoping for the best.

You are, no doubt, a person who would appreciate the observations of thinkers such as Thomas Kuhn, on what he terms “the structure of scientific revolutions,” and the observations of Witgenstein, Popper, Feirabend and others on the limitations, as well as the accomplishments, of scientific research in conjunction with technological extension of the human senses and application of informal logic to the cause of optimization of coping in humans (individually as well as collectively). Grasping the fuzziness of all observation, measurement and human learning, rationalizing and applying of what is at best fuzzier at the frontiers than most lay persons would ever begin to imagine, it is small wonder that there is fuzziness in the making of some sense of information as it gets ground up and cookie cut to fit the agendas of individuals and self-serving authorships and interest group biases on its way to the lunatic fringe of any population of “learners and users.”

Thank you for the reference. Haven’t read that one.

Shall.

(: > )

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03/08/2012 12:39 PM in reply to Ciocccholly

Ciocccholly
I completely agree with you that African AIDS etiology, symptomology, comparative treatment protocols, and search for a preventive vaccine, are legitimate and important issues.
What helps to define and to characterize unscientific books like the latest shrieking accusations from Nattrass is a stubborn and rigid determinism that fails to situate the clinical symptoms that define an AIDS case in Africa (Bangui Definition 1985-2012) in the impoverished living context of rural Africans under apartheid, for instance. She imagines their fevers, diarrhea, persistent coughs, weight loss and associated ailments are somehow derived from their sexual activities!

To paraphrase the old Johnny Lee country song, “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places,” folks like Nattrass continue futilely but energetically to look for an AIDS vaccine, drug interventions and the real cause of those AIDS symptoms in all the wrong places. But they can sure roar through the money in no time and demand more, more, more!

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03/08/2012 01:37 PM in reply to keepitlegal 2 Likes

Mark Cannell
As keepitlegal says: “Dogmas can be chiseled in stone, and defended by way of apologetics that treat any debate as blasphemy. Science, on the other hand, not being dogma, must do the best it can do with the information at hand, seek new information, and seek to find the highest and best rationale for explaining current information… and should never shrink from facts that challenge it.”

Quite so, and yet the piece clearly shows the stifling of debate by censorship. This is unacceptable. Another form of censorship is taking place around AGW and in the latter case it seems that the science is far less certain being based only on correlation in imperfect computer models… What is needed is general acceptance that our science is imperfect and that we may be wrong and to always accept healthy debate, avoid hubris and to allow funding to carefully examine/consider the 5% outside the 95% confidence interval. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that AGW theories are wrong, rather that failure to properly explore the deficiencies in our understanding are as large a scientific failing as the inability to accept a hypothesis such as HIV causes AIDS.

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03/04/2012 03:11 AM 3 Likes

Skepticnyc
It should be noted that Peter Duesberg is casually savaged here in this report of the unprofessional political censorship he has suffered in science, without regard to his enormous body of work published in peer reviewed journals from Science and Nature on downwards justifying his dismissal of HIV as the cause of “HIV/AIDS”, his explanation of HIV/AIDS as in fact being other diseases and ailments rrewritten as “HIV/AIDS”, and his pioneering work in cancer and aneuploidy which is recognized widely as leading to a new and productive approach in cancer which replaces the cul-de-sac of “cancer genes” (oncogenes). Duesberg has been politically vilified but not scientifically disproven (he is unanswered in the two of the very highest journals in which he originally published his demolition of “HIV/AIDS” theory, Cancer Research 1987 and Proceedings of the National Academy 1989, see his site for exact references). His mistreatment should not be echoed in casual remarks or amateur superficialities which reflect lack of research into his position and taking for granted that his vilification by scientific and media opponents is justified. It isn’t.
As a professional science reporter I have followed this absurd situation (absurd and cruel and infinitely wasteful in money and in lives) for 28 years and it has long been quite clear that Peter Duesberg is a fine scientist, and his opponents are trying to maintain nonsense in HIV/AIDS. It is a mistake to assume that notorious heretics in science are wrong. Many of them get the Nobel in the end. Duesberg deserves one, frankly. I am speaking of qualified heretics, of course. He is more qualified than anyone anywhere now to speak on the true science of so called HIV/AIDS, including the core truth, which should be obvious to any thoughtful person, that it is not the cause of AIDS, regardless of labeling. Be that as it may, the treatment Duesberg has received in an outrage to professional science. No one should thoughtlessly join in. It is important to research the issue properly. I refer readers to my scienceguardian.com for repeated clarifications of this egregious distortion of science and smearing of an exceptionally qualified scientist, and a long list of further references to reliable sites and journal articles on the topic.

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03/08/2012 01:19 AM 1 Like

Ed Rybicki, Virologist
“Peter Duesberg is a fine scientist”: he certainly was; however, I don’t think he’s produced much in recent years that isn’t considered fringe. What’s more important is that he has never actually worked on HIV or another lentivirus: he has published far more on cancer than on HIV in the last twenty years, and not ONE of those HIV papers actually reports any experimental data. They all seem to be commentaries or reviews.

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Yesterday 04:40 AM in reply to Skepticnyc

Seth Kalichman
5 Lines and a virologist didn’t say anything about HIV, just another sledging of Duesberg. It’s incredible that the orthodox does not have any answer to the skeptics except for glib and garbled crap about “didn’t work on a lentivirus”. That kind of logic would state that an astrophysicist who hadn’t been in to space doesn’t have a right to form an opinion. Wake up you dud clowns

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Yesterday 07:27 AM in reply to Ed Rybicki

alexandru
Congratulation!

keepitlegal – *It is the job of
science to discover phenomena, to experiment, to seek ever newer and better
models for explaining.*

Brian
Hanley – *I think just answering them is probably the most productive
thing to do.*

Proverbs 25.2 – *We honour God for what He conceals; we honour kings for what they
explain!*

Proverbs 1.22 – *Foolish
people! How long do you want to be foolish? How long will you enjoy pouring
scorn on knowledge? Will you never learn?*

Not everyone can stay
comfortable at the Office knowledge.

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03/02/2012 02:26 PM 2 Likes

Brian Hanley
It’s not hard to answer Duesberg’s questions about HIV.

1. Why does Kaposi’s sarcoma, a cancer of the blood vessels, occur almost
exclusively in gay males and not in heterosexual drug users?

– Because KSHV is transmitted by homosexual practices, and while it is not terribly easy to transmit, it is easier to transmit than HIV. So it has filled out its epidemiological niche among the roughly 40% of MSMs (men who have sex with men) who are highly promiscuous. KSHV is also transmitted in heterosexuals, but heterosexual sexual practices are far less efficient at transmission and heterosexuals have far fewer lifetime sexual contacts.

2. Why is AIDS rarely transmitted by heterosexual contact in Europe but is said to spread rapidly among heterosexuals in Africa?

– Because of:

— a much higher number of sexual contacts in African women in certain classes

— extreme poverty causing women to engage in prostitution with higher frequency

— female genital mutilation creating scars that crack and bleed during sex

— a high rate of genital herpes with lesions that improve transmission

— because of sexual practices such as putting sand or dirt on a man’s penis to increase friction and cause pain and bleeding, mixing blood of the partners in the vagina

— civil war and civil disturbance leading to rape

3. If AIDS is caused by a virus, why has it been impossible for researchers to develop a vaccine after 20 years and millions of dollars spent?

– It has also been impossible to develop a vaccine for TB, malaria and Dengue.

– Not every disease can be vaccinated against, because the human immune system cannot defeat every disease. No person has ever been found who naturally recovered from HIV. There are only a rare few elite controllers and long-term-non-progressors.

-Elite controllers are an artifact of probability. HIV variation is a matter of probability, and the exact antibodies produced are also a matter of probability. Win the lottery on both and you have an elite controller. Win the lottery on one, and you have an elite controller for a while. There is also an interaction with the strain of HIV contracted.

– Long-term-non-progressors in some cases have mutations that protect them from destroying their T-cells despite high viral loads. Duesberg is correct that viral load is not inherently a death sentence, but only if you have the right mutation(s). Studying this population has helped develop drug targets.
– Is the rare LTNP population fully understood? No, it’s not. Some may be elite controllers. Some may be elite controllers who will stop being elite eventually. Some may have protective mutations. And some are deluding themselves because it makes them feel better. Some physicians skate on the edge by suggesting a patient or two of theirs is an LTNP when they probably are not and really should be on HAART.

4. Could it be that antiretroviral (ARV) drugs used to attack HIV actually do more harm than good, contrary to the common assumption that they have dramatically reduced AIDS deaths?

– There is no evidence for that. Duesberg’s writeups discussed extremely long-term use of tetracycline, poppers and AZT.
– His tetracycline observation is not new. Suppression of bone marrow does happen with long term use, and it used to be that many in the gay community used tetracycline for long periods prophylactically. But so did legions of teenage boys and girls to control acne in the same time period. That demographic did not develop AIDS.

– Poppers are primarily composed of butyl or isobutyl nitrite/nitrate because it’s cheaper than amyl form. These are carcinogenic. But there is no evidence tying AIDS or KSHV to such use.
– Tetracycline and poppers are not part of the pharmacopeia for HIV.
– We have moved far past AZT into targeted development of drugs that interfere
with the HIV life cycle. Those drugs worked in culture, in animals and demonstrably work in humans.
– AZT does have negative effects with long term use and well documented toxicity. But no animal study shows an AIDS syndrome as a toxic effect. Monkey studies show suppression and increases survival, as do human studies. You cannot produce AIDS by dosing with AZT, although you can cause toxicity.

I don’t know why Duesberg has kept after this any more than anyone else does. But it isn’t difficult to answer the questions he has raised, and I think just answering them is probably the most productive thing to do.

(Edited by author 1 week ago)
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03/02/2012 01:32 PM 2 Likes

Ed Rybicki, Virologist
Brian: while I agree with most of what you say, I think your reply No. 2 needs some attention. The simple fact of heterosexual African HIV transmission is that it is due to sexual networking – and that a LOT of this is due to men being promiscuous with multiple concurrent partners. Your reasons seem to put the load unfairly on women – and on sexual practices that are in fact not mainstream.

And as for Duesberg: I heard him disbelieve hepatitis B in 1986; he is on record as saying that its reverse transcriptase was too inefficient for it to be the virus’s means of replication. He is so caught up in the “correctness” of his world views that he is in fact incapable of being reasoned with.

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03/04/2012 05:14 AM in reply to Brian Hanley 1 Like

Ciocccholly
These are absurdly racist and parochial insinuations backed up by zero evidence. What exactly is meant by “promiscuous?”

With all sexually transmitted infections on the rise across U.S. campuses for the past 20 years – chlamydia, genital warts and herpes simplex – why have HIV infections (pure guesswork numbers from nowhere by the CDC) remained so flatlined at an alleged but never verified 40,000 cases a year (now recently upgraded to a flat 50,000)?

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03/08/2012 12:15 AM in reply to Ed Rybicki 2 Likes

Skepticnyc
“All scientific models are tentative. They will do until a better one comes along. etc” – is a fine statement of the principles of good science, but as far as practical considerations go, it is a trifle naive.

When the retiree keepitlegal acquires more information and experience of infighting among scientists he may better appreciate how often modern science in many ways fails to rise to the standards of the vocational ideal he has in mind. Since the last World War when funding from the federal government began to dominate and steer scientific research, joined in the last forty years by the millions invested in biotech and the ever expanding drug sector, more and more leading scientists have become politically competitive rivals wedded to their funding sources and their prospects for patents and other riches.

No wonder Peter Duesberg has had trouble publishing his dangerous views lately (dangerous to HIV/AIDS proponents, not to science or medicine). HIV/AIDS has become one of the biggest examples of this internal distortion of pure science, with hundreds of billions spent and invested so far. Even though it has been clearly shown by the best man in the field to be a fairy tale, and this should be obvious to any thoughtful newspaper reader who contemplates for more than twenty minutes what he is supposed to believe in HIV/AIDS lore (antibodies a guide to future sickness? come on gentlemen!), the fierce grip of proponents on this lucrative meme will probably last until they are all gone, and are replaced by a younger generation. As Max Planck remarked, progress in science advances funeral by funeral.

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03/12/2012 02:13 AM

Skepticnyc
Peter Duesberg’s evisceration of the claim that HIV causes AIDS is scorned by Nattrassa, a person who has exploited ths claim in her career, but she cannot quote any scientific journal article proving it, for the simple reason there is none. She scorns Duesberg’s science and thoroughly approves the censorship he has suffered without regard to his enormous body of work published in peer reviewed journals from Science and Nature on downwards justifying his dismissal of HIV as the cause of “HIV/AIDS”, and his pioneering work in cancer and aneuploidy which is recognized widely as leading to a new and productive approach. Duesberg remains unanswered in the two very highest journals in which he originally published his demolition of “HIV/AIDS” theory, Cancer Research 1987 and Proceedings of the National Academy 1989. Until he is, the censorship should be stopped, even though it powerfully demonstrates the fact that the HIV claimants feel too vulnerable to behave like true scientists.

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03/09/2012 01:17 AM

Thomas Lucero
That HIV starts the process that ends in AIDS has long been shown beyond reasonable doubt. But Duesberg’s assertions give us the opportunity to explain in plain, simple language how we know what we know, in both causes and treatment.

It’s important to be open to new information and new hypotheses that are consistent with the facts. I believe it hurts science to try to censor pseudoscience, as in some important cases, we have found that mainstream science was wrong – e.g. germ theory, meteorites. But Duesberg doesn’t have the right to invent his own facts, or to ignore the facts discovered by others.

As for AGW and CO2, we have many millions of temperature observations, with daily/hourly high/low, precipitation, and other measurements. We also have the absorption bands of the major atmospheric gases. Since CO2 and H2O vary by day/night, weekday/weekend (in populated areas), seasonal, and, in the case of CO2, secular changes, it should be possible to run the data, not in the form of models and projections, but historical data, to see what statistically significant information emerges. If it turns out that we need to collect more information in a different way to reduce error bars by enough to draw conclusions, that would also be valuable.

Since according to best available information, we have had ice ages with CO2 above 3000 ppm, it would be good to know what triggers an ice age, and if there are early warning signs. That could save billions of lives and hundreds of thousands of species.

In the current warming environment, we should also try to find out what stopped the temperature rise at the end of the last ice age and at the end of the Younger Dryas. Due to limited information, this is much more difficult than interpreting current data.

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03/07/2012 09:29 AM

johnfryer
This illness is devastating and to argue about treatments is missing the point. Nobody ever got a retroviral illness until we started tinkering with DNA and introducing fragments which produced novel illnesses.

We need to research the origin and thereby prevent other illnesses possibly worse affecting us.

GMO food is one example where in Europe mysterious deaths occurred and the survivors face a zero life on medication and tied to hospital bed treatments for life. E Coli never found but present in every ounce of the millions of tons of GMO shipped from America to Europe under the guise that it is good and nourishing for us.

It is another time bomb going off at present as a damp squib.

But AIDS commenced when one person converted GMO organisms into transmissible illness.

My own enquiries 20 years ago solicited the response that no one was interested in the orign of AIDS and one oxbridge professor who was promptly died stopping any top level work continuing.

While we are dismayed that people do not accpet AIDS and treatments we forget our knowledge of how a retroviral illness arrived on mans doorstep after being without for a million years is something more important as deaths may continue now for the eternity that man exists on a planet more and more devastated by his errors.

To be blunt science and industry make advances without due regard to the hazards and when government do intervene as they did in 1973 or so they prove totally unfit to respond correctly. (Asilomar conference).

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03/05/2012 09:17 AM

keepitlegal, I graduated from a university in 1962, with a degree in government (some universities call it “political science.” Since retirement I have read daily, and have reviewed college level courses on the philosophies, theories relating to advanced political, economic, historical, scientific and financial issues. I am NOT associated with ANY OTHER entity using the name “keepitlegal,” some of which have taken on that name subsequent to my beginning to use is as a blog name, years ago. I am NOT affiliated with any political party, nor any biased political public relations (propaganda) narrative. I seek to learn, and to think in accord with, analysis of actual events, actual problems in the U. S., and optimally workable solutions to those problems — and am opposed to the opportunistic, self-serving, greedy… spinning of events on part of any organization or interest that puts its own interests ahead of objectivity, accuracy and the good of ALL the people, rather than any self-serving benefit of a few of the people. To the extent that any individual or interest may attain wealth and power without monopolizing, without limiting the power of others to do likewise, without committing fraud, without abusing others… I am fully in support of it. Where and when it abuses and exploits and gouges, I am against that.
In recent years, there has been a turn in how writers ABOUT science view their role in life, and how they view their non-science-literate reading audience as dependent upon them (the writers) to lead them to enlightenment about what science preaches.

Science, in its most useful hours, is spent in searching for new understanding of the world, the universe, the makeup of things… of how living things cope, of how time and motion and space relate, and how material and energy relate and interact in them.

It is the job of science to discover phenomena, to experiment, to seek ever newer and better models for explaining.

If scientists themselves (as opposed to the increasingly sensationalists journalism that feigns a role of protecting them from being misunderstood) were to become rhetoricians who defend “the right” facts and “the right” interpretations against their antagonists, they would be hampered in that cause by the fact that the gaining of new knowledge is not a dogma but — quite the contrary — the very assault upon science itself.

Yes, science is a process of ever and always challenging its own assumptions, always seeking to overturn the current wisdom, always seeking newer and better syntheses to are better at explaining anomalies that don’t fit current ones.

There is no greater misunderstanding of science than the grossly false and misleading perception science could effectively overturn or squelch any misinformation that would be thrown against it. That is the job of what are known among philosophers as “dogma” and ‘apologetics.”

We humans NEVER have ALL the facts about anything. We NEVER have knowledge CERTAIN. We NEVER have a model of any complex thing that does not sweep some anomalies under the veil of ignorance, in tidying up any set of what are often called “laws” rationalized into place to explain most of (but never all) that goes on in nature.

All scientific models are tentative. They will do until a better one comes along. They can be modified to some exetent, to adapt them to new information that fits only to the extent that a square peg can be forced into a round hole — allowing us to almost explain something if we don’t look at all the troublesome little details.

Dogmas can be chiseled in stone, and defended by way of apologetics that treat any debate as blasphemy. Science, on the other hand, not being dogma, must do the best it can do with the information at hand, seek new information, and seek to find the highest and best rationale for explaining current information… and should never shrink from facts that challenge it.

There is much to be said for taking the findings of science, and, yes, the doubts among scientists, too, to the widest human audience which might kick around ideas about those findings. The alternative would be to provide no information to the non-science-literate, at all.

Science does not, and cannot, stamp out ignorance, nor spend time effectively setting the ignorant right.

Meantime, however, journalism is a commercial product or service. Whether it sells or not, does not depend upon how is describes or mis-describes its subject matter.

I have not read the book titled The Aids Conspiracy: How Science Fights Back. Therefore, I have no grounds for commenting on its contents. For all I know, it may be well written, and may contain many reliable observations and argumentations.
My purpose here is only to point out that its title implies at the very least a mis-characterization of what science does, and at least one about what scientists do.

Hopefully the contents of the book may explain that the title is facetious, and designed only to capture reader interest and, having done that, dispel these false implications.

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03/02/2012 11:55 AM

1Claus_Jensen1
Collapse
Brian Hanley’s outrageous and unsupported explanation of why heterosexually transmitted HIV transmission is exploding in large parts of Africa, a huge continent where not all cultures and practices are similar mind you, is an excellent demonstration of the racist ad hoc hypotheses scientists (and certain others) come up with to explain the unexplainable.

There are plenty of hypotheses to choose from, such as “Duffy” genes, CCR5 receptor mutations, (making white people immune to HIV infection – unless they are gay of course), smearing monkey blood on genitals, lack of circumcision, and the euphemistic term “sexual networking” preferred by Ed Rybicki, the virologist.

Another current favourite is that African women just happen to have drier vaginas than everybody else. That’s presumably because virologists are not the only ones who are a little queasy about the “smear dirt on the penis to cause pain and rape them” hypothesis championed by Brian Hanley. It does sound better to say that Africans just happen to be genetically unfortunate – but only when it comes to HIV of course.

In one of the latest large studies it was suggested that the big difference was that the partners of African women are on average a couple of years older than those of American women. We recognise the tattered remnants of the “sexual networking” theory.

Niccoli Nattras is a well known crusader, who has found her niche on this smorgasbord of scientific ad hockery. When she is not consigning Peter Duesberg and previous president Mbeki to the flames she co-authors sociological gems such as “AIDS Conspiracy Beliefs and Unsafe Sex in Cape
Town”. Some of the more intriguing observations juxtaposed are these:

“Membership of a religious organisation reduced the odds of believing AIDS origin conspiracy theories by more than a third” (…) Belief in witchcraft tripled the odds among Africans.”

From that we learn that “witchcraft”, the scientific name Nattras and her colleagues have coined for traditional African religion, does not qualify as a religious organisation. We further learn that members of proper religious organisations are not prone to harmful beliefs in supernatural beings, conspiracy theories and unsafe sex because the two groups, “religiously associated” and “witches”, obviously don’t overlap. Nattras is thus crusading in many different areas of scientific, political and cultural life for the benefit of the benighted.

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All this roused us to another pitch of loathing and disgust (to use Chargaff’s phrase) and so we coundln’t help firing off another broadside, but with little hope of this one being included, despite the apparent admirable tolerance of The Scientist for the points of heretics:

Here we have a “virologist” who has “met Duesberg” ably demonstrating how poorly the HIV/AIDS claim is defended and how freely the distinguished Duesberg is scorned for debunking it, but luckily this Scientist thread has also attracted the inimitably sharp Claus Jensen, one of the few people who publicly point out how provincial and racist HIV/AIDS scientists are when they rationalize how HIV could be pandemically infectious heterosexually in Africa when it was demonstrated incontrovertibly by AIDS research general Nancy Padian that HIV positivity simply won’t transfer at all from one heterosexual to another in the US. This is hardly surprising when it is detected by tests for antibody, rather than the supposed agent itself. No one has yet explained how antibodies could possibly infect another human. Perhaps Ed Rybicki, Virologist, would like to tell us? Or does he leave it to the epidemiologists to explain this puzzle?

In that case since he is a virologist by his own account perhaps he would tell the world how come HIV which is so lethal to T cells in the body flourishes in T cell culture and is transported in same from one lab to another? Of course, one also waits for him to explain how HIV kills T cells in the body, since after 27 years of this fatuity no one else has managed to explain it either, let alone demonstrate that it happens at all. Dr Antony Fauci of NIAID has publicly acknowledged at the New School that it doesn’t happen. He said, on the contrary, HIV encourages such a furious output of T cells that the immune system “runs out of steam”.

Perhaps onlookers who are wondering how the HIV/AIDS scientific community have managed to get a free pass for 28 years on an unproven claim that makes no sense whatsoever and which is contradicted everywhere one looks in the data they have gathered should consider the politics, both scientific and also gay, which have protected them. Then there is the tendency of all humans, scientists included, to suffer from confirmation bias and stoutly defend what they already believe against all comers, ably analysed by Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow, among dozens of other brain operation pitfalls we are all heir to.

Whatever happened to the fundamental principle of good science, which is to question ourselves first before we debate others? HIV/AIDS is an unproven claim, not a Biblical text. Its problematic nature is indicated by its infamous lack of results in 28 years. The only way patients have been rescued is to be given weaker drugs, which take longer to undermine their health. The CDC continues to record deaths in the US of around 17,000 a year.

And where is the vaccine? Apparently HIV is its own very effective vaccine, since in a matter of days or weeks a newly infected person has antibodies to HIV and virtually undetectable amounts of HIV. Perhaps someone should patent HIV?

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Yoga as Sexual Stimulation

Non participant ladies upset

What precisely did they expect?

Abuse of trust or power?

The roots of yoga in sex cults have emerged again in the US, to the chagrin of disillusioned practitioners among older women. A salacious summary by Wiliam Broad appears today, to fan the flames.

Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here

The wholesome image of yoga took a hit in the past few weeks as a rising star of the discipline came tumbling back to earth. After accusations of sexual impropriety with female students, John Friend, the founder of Anusara, one of the world’s fastest-growing styles, told followers that he was stepping down for an indefinite period of “self-reflection, therapy and personal retreat.”
Mr. Friend preached a gospel of gentle poses mixed with openness aimed at fostering love and happiness. But Elena Brower, a former confidante, has said that insiders knew of his “penchant for women” and his love of “partying and fun.”

Few had any idea about his sexual indiscretions, she added. The apparent hypocrisy has upset many followers.

“Those folks are devastated,” Ms. Brower wrote in The Huffington Post. “They’re understandably disappointed to hear that he cheated on his girlfriends repeatedly” and “lied to so many.”

But this is hardly the first time that yoga’s enlightened facade has been cracked by sexual scandal. Why does yoga produce so many philanderers? And why do the resulting uproars leave so many people shocked and distraught?

One factor is ignorance. Yoga teachers and how-to books seldom mention that the discipline began as a sex cult — an omission that leaves many practitioners open to libidinal surprise.

Hatha yoga — the parent of the styles now practiced around the globe — began as a branch of Tantra. In medieval India, Tantra devotees sought to fuse the male and female aspects of the cosmos into a blissful state of consciousness.

The rites of Tantric cults, while often steeped in symbolism, could also include group and individual sex. One text advised devotees to revere the female sex organ and enjoy vigorous intercourse. Candidates for worship included actresses and prostitutes, as well as the sisters of practitioners.

Hatha originated as a way to speed the Tantric agenda. It used poses, deep breathing and stimulating acts — including intercourse — to hasten rapturous bliss. In time, Tantra and Hatha developed bad reputations. The main charge was that practitioners indulged in sexual debauchery under the pretext of spirituality.

Early in the 20th century, the founders of modern yoga worked hard to remove the Tantric stain. They devised a sanitized discipline that played down the old eroticism for a new emphasis on health and fitness.

B. K. S. Iyengar, the author of “Light on Yoga,” published in 1965, exemplified the change. His book made no mention of Hatha’s Tantric roots and praised the discipline as a panacea that could cure nearly 100 ailments and diseases. And so modern practitioners have embraced a whitewashed simulacrum of Hatha.

But over the decades, many have discovered from personal experience that the practice can fan the sexual flames. Pelvic regions can feel more sensitive and orgasms more intense.

Science has begun to clarify the inner mechanisms. In Russia and India, scientists have measured sharp rises in testosterone — a main hormone of sexual arousal in both men and women. Czech scientists working with electroencephalographs have shown how poses can result in bursts of brainwaves indistinguishable from those of lovers. More recently, scientists at the University of British Columbia have documented how fast breathing — done in many yoga classes — can increase blood flow through the genitals. The effect was found to be strong enough to promote sexual arousal not only in healthy individuals but among those with diminished libidos.

In India, recent clinical studies have shown that men and women who take up yoga report wide improvements in their sex lives, including enhanced feelings of pleasure and satisfaction as well as emotional closeness with partners.

At Rutgers University, scientists are investigating how yoga and related practices can foster autoerotic bliss. It turns out that some individuals can think themselves into states of sexual ecstasy — a phenomenon known clinically as spontaneous orgasm and popularly as “thinking off.”

The Rutgers scientists use brain scanners to measure the levels of excitement in women and compare their responses with readings from manual stimulation of the genitals. The results demonstrate that both practices light up the brain in characteristic ways and produce significant rises in blood pressure, heart rate and tolerance for pain — what turns out to be a signature of orgasm.

Since the baby boomers discovered yoga, the arousal, sweating, heavy breathing and states of undress that characterize yoga classes have led to predictable results. In 1995, sex between students and teachers became so prevalent that the California Yoga Teachers Association deplored it as immoral and called for high standards.

“We wrote the code,” Judith Lasater, the group’s president, told a reporter, “because there were so many violations going on.”

If yoga can arouse everyday practitioners, it app