In 1983, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov had triple bypass surgery at NYU Medical Center, during which he contracted HIV from transfusions. His doctors advised him not to disclose his status because of anti-AIDS sentiment.
He died 1992 from AIDS related complications.
His brother Stanley reported his cause of death as heart & kidney failure. The family was, yet again, advised to remain silent about his HIV diagnosis.
It was not until 2002 that his wife Janet revealed the full story in her autobiography. Many of his fans are still unaware.
Janet says they waited until after most of the treating physicians who advised them not to disclose Asimov's status had died, and couldn't be subject to criticism.
A sad story in the history of HIV/AIDS and our own intolerance to disease.
Let's talk about the 'Concorde Fallacy'. (long thread)
The world's only supersonic passenger airplane (Mach 2.04) was co-developed by French & British aircraft manufacturers.
The project was begun in 1954, estimated to cost £70M. Airlines around the world put in large non-binding orders for >100, 1963-1967.
The first test flight was 1969.
By this point it was over budget by £80M & had to be bailed out by French & British governments.
Design flaws were discovered: metal at high speeds became soft, fuel failed to flow. Costs increased; French & British governments, invested in success, continue to bail out project. Development contract had large penalties for either government to pull out of ongoing support.
As Trump supporters crowd into tight spaces without any masks it's a great time to talk about the temperature checks that are being used at the entrance.
Are they very effective at reducing exposures?
The answer is a resounding NO.
It's medical theater, diagnostic placebo.
If you look at COVID-19 patients being hospitalized, as in this JAMA study from April 2020, only ~30% are likely to even have fevers. jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/…
There's also the very dangerous pre-symptomatic phase of disease, where viral shedding can be at its highest.
CDC has no recommendation for temp checks. They're considered optional & only guidance offered is how to conduct scans safely... maintaining a 6 ft. distance & changing gloves if you come into contact with anyone.
For example, this is non-compliant by distance & glove change:
I need to share history from my hometown, Longview, TX. Long thread.
The population of Longview in 1919 was 5,700, of which 1/3rd were black. Before the Texas oil boom, it was a historical cotton town where slavery shaped the economy. In 1919, it erupted in a race riot.
The incident starts with a (possible) love story. Two white men from Kilgore object to "indecent advances" on their sister by Longview black man Lemuel Walters. Some accounts say they found him in her bedroom.
A lynch mob of 10 white men abduct and kill Lemuel on June 17th.
The lynching is reported in July 5th 'Chicago Defender', an African-American newspaper, along with commentary suggesting the woman he was "making advances on" deeply loved him & was distraught by his death.
Whites felt this cast aspersions on honor of local white women.
Step 1 in adopting rational skepticism in practice is examining your own biased thought processes, and I think you can never really stop revisiting this step.
Being skeptical means trying to see the world as it is, and not as you want it to be.
Step 2 is learning to withhold judgment as a reflex. It's about truly internalizing that there is a state between "proved" and "disproved" called "unproven" and every new assertion must start with a presumption of uncertain knowledge until it can be tested.
Step 3 is deciding in advance of examination where the burden of proof lies, and what that burden is. Deciding on what constitutes proof after observations are mentally logged invalidates the conclusions you can draw.
CW: biology x theology.
Can you be a Christian and accept evolution?
I certainly hope so (I know many who are), but I also understand *why* they are in conflict.
1. Original sin:
If Adam & Eve brought sin into God's perfect world, then Jesus' sacrifice is necessary. If we challenge this notion, then sin was either built into the world, or Jesus died for political theater.
2. Humans as animals:
Biologists will tell you humans are animals, taxonomically, but the Bible is clear on humans being special and capable. Is Heaven filled with, at a minimum, high IQ dolphins, ravens and horses? Smart protohumans? Chimps?
Full confession: 98% of science is boring to read about, even to scientists.
I have spent entire conferences on cancer research not learning anything worth telling anyone about.
It's like reading about someone's business trip to Toledo, OH; or their recent IRS audit.
It must be an eternal struggle for those in #scicomm. How do you reduce the boring bits without losing the integrity of the message?
Cell and gene therapy is amazing stuff, but 98% of the published work on it is about donor sequence optimization, which is not exciting.
My actual work is boring as hell. We alter one variable at a time b/c that's good experimental design. The end result is a test that incrementally improves on what already exists.
The reality of discovery and product development is nothing like the "Eureka" moment.
Searching for publications by Intelligent Design Creationist Michael Behe gives three hits: 1. A 2004 paper on protein evolution. 2. A 2005 letter acknowledging flaws in the 2004 paper. 3. A 2009 correction to his 2008 paper that used the wrong values for fixation rates.
I'm always struck not by how controversial or challenging intelligent design creationism is, but how *unproductive* it has been. They even started their own journal and can't seem to get many papers out even when they are author, reviewer, editor and publisher in one.
If a creationist wanted to convince me, they wouldn't wave Paley's Watch arguments in front of me. They'd apply a creation paradigm to intractable research problems and show that those paradigms were productive.
They have scientists, funding, a journal... what's stopping them?
It has been my experience that people in science are promoted on the basis of their research, not leadership or administrative skill.
The result is often a Principal Investigator / Research Lead who hates their job (grant / report writing) & makes everyone in the lab miserable.
This is where I think industry has the advantage: different paths exist for exceptional scientists to either go administrative routes or remain at the bench and still be compensated according to productivity.
Academia has the post-doc and the research fellow, but there's a narrow path to full professor, and not enough emphasis on leadership, management and administrative ability.
"Cure for cancer" is so poorly defined and misinterpreted.
- Cancer isn't like influenza; it's your cells, just behaving badly.
- It's not one disease; melanoma is as different from glioma as your elbow is from your brain.
- Cancer is built into our biology.
The better our cancer testing gets, the fuzzier the line between pre-cancer and cancer. Our cells are constantly moving on a continuum between normal and cancerous, being destroyed by internal or external regulation, and sometimes just failing to lead to tumors.
So "Cure for Cancer" has the same sense to me as:
"Cure for Crime" or
"Cure for Car Failure" or
"Cure for Poverty".
We could have highly effective therapies (and we do), but I would always hesitate to call them "cures" unless we can agree to what that word means.
Dried blood spots are used to collect and archive proteins and DNA on filter paper for small volumes of blood, like those used in newborn screening.
Every time we think "surely we can improve on this" result = more expensive, complicated, less stable
...& don't call me Shirley.
The first step in extraction from DBS (dried blood spots) is the highly sophisticated tool called a "Hole" "Punch".
Again, not a lot of room for innovation, although there are automated and sterile hole punch devices.
My only real complaint is scale-up. It takes a few hours (3-4) for a recent punch collection to dry enough for handling/shipping/archiving, so for high throughput operations, there's value in having a drying area with lots of square footage.
These are migrants in Mexico with numbers on their arms, awaiting their chance to cross the border and apply for asylum.
It's reminiscent of Jews in concentration camps, but let's be careful and fully informed before reacting!
The numbers are being drawn on in Sharpie by Casa del Migrante, a non-profit civil association that provides services to displaced migrants: shelter, food, safe storage. It's a shelter run on charitable donations, since 1987 helping 250,000 migrants. casadelmigrantetijuana.com/en/
So why are they writing numbers on arms?
Well, the US CBP are denying free access to border crossings. So Mexican charities/NGOs are providing transportation in small busloads to accessible ports of entry. Those numbers are the migrant's place in line.