Around a year ago, I wrote a piece entitled “Whatever Happened To Science?” As Baby Boomers will recall, during our early youth, our little heads were crammed full of the promise of Science: Abundant cheap electrical power; the discovery of the structure of DNA would (somehow) lead to curing every disease, and the polio vaccine seemed to demonstrate this; our soaring postwar economy could easily fund ever more dramatic breakthroughs.
Author Archives: Michael D. Shaw
While there has always been a scientific establishment—and within that a medical establishment—it is only quite recently that the notion of “scientific consensus” has been advanced to prove the verity of a particular theory. Indeed, precisely because disruptive breakthroughs occur in science with some frequency, the establishment was always reluctant to equate consensus with truth. Rather, consensus was used to bully rebels into submission to the status quo. In fact, equating consensus with truth is a classic example of reversing cause and effect.
Have you heard about the insurance company that provides free health coverage for the poor? Me neither. What about the hospital that provides free health care services to the poor? Of course, you say. Many of them do! Indeed, some of these hospitals even go bankrupt in the process.
Well, this should come as no surprise:
[links to free articles in Nature]
The sciences can be a sanctuary for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, but biases may still discourage many from coming out.
Sticking with co-authors with similar surnames to yours might dent the impact of your work. The reason is unclear, but bibliometrics suggest that teams with greater ethnic diversity generate papers that make more of a splash in the scientific literature.
And you wonder why there’s so much junk science?
This one has it all: Research from a prestigious institute published in a prestige journal; a provocative and contrarian set of findings; topical subject matter, sure to attract mainstream media; and the use of ultra high-tech genome sequencing in the too-cool-for-school realm of the gut biome. Just published online in Nature, the study is entitled “Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota.” [Suez et al.]
A classical definition of “public health” describes it as the art and science of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting physical and mental health, sanitation, personal hygiene, control of infection, and organization of health services. The practice of public health derives from dim antiquity, at least with respect to sanitation and personal hygiene, which was often done for religious purposes. The Greeks—including Hippocrates—in the 4th and 5th centuries BC, are considered the first to have applied logic and right reason to the causation of disease.
Last March, I posted a column sketching a historical background on the irrational fear of dietary sodium, and the less than great science behind such fears. Current guidelines are 1500 to 2300 milligrams per day, or lower. As was pointed out in the earlier piece, the much recommended super-healthy Mediterranean diet averages 4200 mg of sodium per day. Also mentioned was that a standard hospital saline IV drip logs in at more than 10,000 milligrams per day, and whatever the patient might eat on his own will take it up from there.