Gather around ye, to understand why the recent news around "Secret Science" or the EPA's refusal to use studies that in essence don't publicly disclose a subject's medical history is essentially throwing out most good studies /1
The first thing you have to understand, in essence, is that redaction is bullshit. There are MIT researchers who can figure out who you are based on three points of data. /2

news.mit.edu/2015/identify-…
The new proposed rule wants studies that publish enough information so that you can replicate the study.

This sounds incredibly reasonable.

But as a child I loved lemon in my tea and milk in my tea so combining it sounded reasonable too. The milk curdled /3
The problem is that it's nigh impossible to leave enough data so that you can't figure out who a subject is but enough that someone could in theory rerun the numbers.

To understand why I turn to the world of celebrity gossip: specifically the Blind Item. /4
Y'all there's a list of possibly three people who bit Beyonce in the face. And we know this because of one sentence and context cues.

Voila welcome to why redaction is hard! /5
And some decisions are based on very small studies - like when a business accidentally poisons a town's drinking water supplies, sometimes medical monitoring is a condition of the settlement.

That may be our only (for very good reasons!) human study. /6
Let's say you're a 45 year old white male in said town. Often these communities are pretty small, it's not very hard to pin you down. I can't redact your age, gender, or race because that can all affect medical outcomes. /7
So we in essence have to base studies on people who are willing to be identifiable.

I'm paranoid as fuck, I would not sign up for that.

Most *black people* would not sign up for that. #governmentshots

And there are healthcare repercussions too.

popsci.com/tuskegee-exper… /8
But let's say you're willing to sign up for that.
Let's say the government spends millions to partially redact the data in those studies.

There's one wrinkle: some of the landmark resolutions are based on old studies, and those participants are dead /9
Now you have no right to privacy when you're dead which is why I'm setting everything in my life to explode (small explosion) like in Inspector Gadget when I die.

But HIPAA gets real weird, and generally the way we deal with medical records is getting permission /10
From the "responsible party." That is someone tasked with dealing with the deceases affairs in an official capacity.

Good luck finding that person. And, depending on the study, that person may be dead. /11
So why do this you ask?

I'm venturing (somewhat solidly) into the land of speculation. At issue is PM 2.5 pollution, also known as "fine particulate matter pollution."

PM 2.5 pollution stands for "particulate matter 2.5 microns." It is 1/20th the size of a human hair /12
We create it when we burn gasoline for cars, or coal for electricity (among other sources).

There's one tiny problem.

It's deadly. /13

popsci.com/air-pollution-…
We know it's deadly based on this seminal Harvard University study, but there have been a TON of replication etc etc studies around the world since this on /14

hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/…
And this is a PROBLEM if you oppose fuel efficiency and renewable energy, because while climate change is still debatable in our country death by lung cancer, heart attacks etc because of air pollution is not.

Across the political spectrum people dig clean air. /15
Which is why, last year, Myron Ebell the EPA transition chief, told me that PM 2.5 pollution is harmless.

Even without climate change, the EPA has to regulate PM 2.5 pollution because of the health effects and that means fuel efficiency (among other things). /16
But if you can say that PM2.5 is safe that allows you to roll back a whole bunch of rules.

What's... fascinating... is that China is installing a ton of pollution controls, in part, to get a reign on PM2.5 pollution /17
A postscript: I really struggled with whether or not to do this thread because in our current environment this can read like an opinion.

But apart from my speculation as to "why now,"and whether or not I'm paranoid everything I've written is backed by objective data. /18
All I really did was strip out the inside the beltway stuff and throw in some cultural references. /end
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