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Monthly Archives: October 2014

The “shoe magic” trick is making its way around the Internet. It’s a nifty little math trick, and it does indeed work (most of the time). I will first use my own data to demonstrate.

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This article was originally published on RealClearScience.

Despite our best efforts, the cumulative mortality rate remains 100%. Though biomedical scientists have not made any progress in lowering that number, they have helped change how we die. In 1900, for instance, the top three causes of death were due to infectious disease: pneumonia/influenza, tuberculosis, and gastrointestinal infection. But thanks to medical advances, today, the top three causes of death are due to lifestyle and genetics: heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease.

Many Americans pessimistically believe that we are losing the so-called “War on Cancer.” That is patently untrue. Still, about 25% of Americans will end up with “cancer” written on their death certificates. Read More »

The Ebola situation is testing the world’s best infectious disease team, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at its ability to perform crisis management. While the immediate threat in the United States appears to be receding, it is far from clear that we’re up to facing a stronger test. Read the rest at USA Today.

This article was originally published on RealClearScience.

John Ioannidis is (in)famous in the scientific community. Using straightforward logic and statistics, he convincingly demonstrated that most published research articles are wrong. This is not because scientists are liars and crooks, but because studies often do not have large enough sample sizes or are testing unlikely hypotheses. Ioannidis’s revelation sent a shock wave through the biomedical community. Partially in response to his findings, biomedical scientists began to embrace reforms in scientific publishing, such as using more open access journals and publishing replications and negative data.

Now, in a new paper in PLoS Medicine, Dr. Ioannidis proposes additional reforms. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Thanks to my favorite troublemaker, Hank Campbell, the “who is more anti-vaccine” debate has sprung up again. In 2012, we co-authored a book, Science Left Behind, in which we argued that the anti-vaccine movement began with the political Left, but spread to religious conservatives and libertarians. However, because the most visible public spokespeople for the anti-vaccine movement (e.g., Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Bill Maher, and Jenny McCarthy) are mostly on the political Left, we continue to believe that the Left should bear most of the blame. However, some writers argue that the anti-vaccine movement is truly a bipartisan phenomenon.

New CDC data helps shed some more light on the issue. The CDC has compiled an updated list which depicts vaccine exemption rates in each U.S. state. (See map.) Read More »

Last week, on my way back to Seattle, I came across a peculiar sign posted next to Gate 62 at San Francisco Airport. (See photo.)

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This article was originally published on RealClearScience.

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report is a fascinating treasure trove of the macabre. Recently, it published a chart depicting how Americans committed suicide by age group in 2011. (See above.) While firearms are the most popular method in all age groups, a fascinating trend emerges: As age increases, suffocation (including hanging) becomes less popular and firearms become more popular. Why? Read More »