Category Archives: Science

It’s Time to Give Up on Britain’s National Health Service, by Antony Sammeroff

Actually, it’s long past time to give up on Britain’s NHS, but better late than never. From Antony Sammeroff at mises.org:

“Woe unto you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”

— Luke 6:26

Our National Health Service just turned 70! According to a recent article in The Guardian by Polly Toynbee , The NHS is our religion in the UK and that’s why the conservative government can’t destroy it. Of course, the Conservative government have never actually tried to destroy the NHS. They haven’t even reduced the amount spent on the NHS. They haven’t even halted increases in healthcare spending. The only thing they have done is reduced the rate at which spending is going to continue to increase.

Before the National Health Service was created in Great Britain our nation was a world-leader with an unrivalled record in making major medical breakthroughs. People came from all over the globe to study medicine, and to be treated in the UK. Dr. John Snow proved that the source of cholera epidemics was the water supply in London. Edward Jenner pioneered a vaccine for smallpox in rural England, and Sir Almroth Wright one for typhoid. Sir Humphrey Davy, also a Briton, first suggested the use of nitrous oxide as an anaesthetic in 1800. Sir Joseph Lister pioneered the use of antiseptics in operations in 1865 using impure carbolic acid, saving countless people dying from infections after surgery. Alexander Flemming, the Scottish physician discovered Penicillin in one of the charitable hospitals in London in 1928. Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, brought it to fruition working in a laboratory in Oxford in 1941. Britain had established the best record in the world for achieving major medical advances and had just developed the landmark drug of the 20th century, as well as playing a leading role in 5 out of the 7 leading medical breakthroughs between 1750 and 1948 when the NHS was established.1 Britain is no longer a leader in medical advances. Despite its costliness, nepotism, and other flaws, America’s private system has taken the lead.

Britain has less of the latest equipment and the old equipment is often being kept beyond the time when it is safe.2 If a private company was using out of date intensive care machines and x-ray machines, obsolete cancer care equipment, and operating tables over twenty years old – double their safe life span – the champions of the NHS would no doubt be clamouring for more government oversight and regulation. When government agencies are culpable, they are more or less given a pass on public outrage because they are perceived to be acting in the public interest rather than for profit.

To continue reading: It’s Time to Give Up on Britain’s National Health Service

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Beware those scientific studies — most are wrong, researcher warns, by Ivan Couronne

Take all scientific studies, especially those featured in the mainstream media, with multiple grains of salt. From Ivan Couronne at yahoo.com:

A skull made of sugar — one of a large number of foodstuffs that have been associated with cancer risks or benefits, despite a lack of strong direct evidence

A skull made of sugar — one of a large number of foodstuffs that have been associated with cancer risks or benefits, despite a lack of strong direct evidence (AFP Photo/JOEL SAGET)

Washington (AFP) – A few years ago, two researchers took the 50 most-used ingredients in a cook book and studied how many had been linked with a cancer risk or benefit, based on a variety of studies published in scientific journals.

The result? Forty out of 50, including salt, flour, parsley and sugar. “Is everything we eat associated with cancer?” the researchers wondered in a 2013 article based on their findings.

Their investigation touched on a known but persistent problem in the research world: too few studies have large enough samples to support generalized conclusions.

But pressure on researchers, competition between journals and the media’s insatiable appetite for new studies announcing revolutionary breakthroughs has meant such articles continue to be published.

“The majority of papers that get published, even in serious journals, are pretty sloppy,” said John Ioannidis, professor of medicine at Stanford University, who specializes in the study of scientific studies.

This sworn enemy of bad research published a widely cited article in 2005 entitled: “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.”

Since then, he says, only limited progress has been made.

Some journals now insist that authors pre-register their research protocol and supply their raw data, which makes it harder for researchers to manipulate findings in order to reach a certain conclusion. It also allows other to verify or replicate their studies.

Because when studies are replicated, they rarely come up with the same results. Only a third of the 100 studies published in three top psychology journals could be successfully replicated in a large 2015 test.

Medicine, epidemiology, population science and nutritional studies fare no better, Ioannidis said, when attempts are made to replicate them.

“Across biomedical science and beyond, scientists do not get trained sufficiently on statistics and on methodology,” Ioannidis said.

Too many studies are based solely on a few individuals, making it difficult to draw wider conclusions because the samplings have so little hope of being representative.

To continue reading: Beware those scientific studies — most are wrong, researcher warns

 

He Said That? 7/2/18

From Bill Bryson (born 1951), Anglo-American author of books on travel, the English language, science, and other non-fiction topics, A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003):

There are three stages in scientific discovery. First, people deny that it is true, then they deny that it is important; finally they credit the wrong person.

He Said That? 6/24/18

From Michael Crichton (1942–2008), American best-selling author, physician, producer, director and screenwriter, best known for his work in the science fiction, medical fiction and thriller genres,  “Aliens Cause Global Warming” – A lecture at the California Institute of Technology (17 January 2003):

Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.
Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

The World’s Poorest People Are Getting Richer Faster, by Alexander C. R. Hammond

If often seems like a three step forward, two step back process, but hundreds of millions of people have lifted themselves from extreme poverty in just the last few decades. From Alexander C. R. Hammond at humanprogress.org:

In 1820, 94% of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. In 1990, 34.8%, and in 2015, just 9.6%.

Last Tuesday marked the 25th anniversary of the United Nations’ International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The date intentionally coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Call to Action, which saw the French anti-poverty campaigner Father Joseph Wresinski ask the international community, in front of 100,000 Parisians, to “strive to eradicate extreme poverty”.

To mark the occasion, Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, was featured in a short video assessing the current state of world poverty. Despite noting such issues as unemployment, inequality, and conflict continuing in some regions, Guterres correctly observed that since 1990 the world has made “remarkable progress in eradicating poverty.”

While it is valuable to acknowledge that problems remain, it is important to reflect on just how far we’ve come.

The speed of poverty alleviation in the last 25 years has been historically unprecedented. Not only is the proportion of people in poverty at a record low, but, in spite of adding 2 billion to the planet’s population, the overall number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen too.

As Johan Norberg writes in his book Progress, “if you had to choose a society to live in but did not know what your social or economic position would be, you would probably choose the society with the lowest proportion (not the lowest numbers) of poor, because this is the best judgement of the life of an average citizen.” Well, in 1820, 94 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty (less than $1.90 per day adjusted for purchasing power). In 1990 this figure was 34.8 percent, and in 2015, just 9.6 percent.

In the last quarter century, more than 1.25 billion people escaped extreme poverty – that equates to over 138,000 people (i.e., 38,000 more than the Parisian crowd that greeted Father Wresinski in 1987) being lifted out of poverty every day. If it takes you five minutes to read this article, another 480 people will have escaped the shackles of extreme of poverty by the time you finish. Progress is awesome. In 1820, only 60 million people didn’t live in extreme poverty. In 2015, 6.6 billion did not.

To continue reading: The World’s Poorest People Are Getting Richer Faster

He Said That? 6/18/18

From Charles Darwin (1809–1882), English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution:

An American monkey, after getting drunk on brandy, would never touch it again, and thus is much wiser than most men.

Diversity and Inclusion Harm, by Walter Williams

How would you like to be operated on by a doctor who went to a medical school where he or she was taught that: “scientific knowledge itself is gendered, raced, and colonizing”? Maybe shop around for a different doctor? From Walter Williams at lewrockwell.com:

In conversations with most college officials, many CEOs, many politicians and race hustlers, it’s not long before the magical words “diversity” and “inclusiveness” drop from their lips. Racial minorities are the intended targets of this sociological largesse, but women are included, as well. This obsession with diversity and inclusion is in the process of leading the nation to decline in a number of areas. We’re told how it’s doing so in science, in an article by Heather Mac Donald, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, titled “How Identity Politics Is Harming the Sciences” (http://tinyurl.com/y9g8k9ne).

Mac Donald says that identity politics has already taken over the humanities and social sciences on American campuses. Waiting in the wings for a similar takeover are the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math. In the eyes of the diversity and inclusiveness czars, the STEM fields don’t have a pleasing mixture of blacks, Hispanics and women. The effort to get this “pleasing mix” is doing great damage to how science is taught and evaluated, threatening innovation and American competitiveness.

Universities and other institutions have started watering down standards and requirements in order to attract more minorities and women. Some of the arguments for doing so border on insanity. A math education professor at the University of Illinois wrote that “mathematics itself operates as Whiteness.” She says that the ability to solve algebra and geometry problems perpetuates “unearned privilege” among whites. A professor at Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education published an article in a peer-reviewed journal positing that academic rigor is a “dirty deed” that upholds “white male heterosexual privilege,” adding that “scientific knowledge itself is gendered, raced, and colonizing.”

To continue reading: Diversity and Inclusion Harm