All Published Medical Research is NOT Quality Research

There is very nice article in The Atlantic by James Heathers, one reminding us of the dangers of accepting as gospel medical publication results due to their very variable quality (or lack thereof).  This especially applies to articles on COVID-19 appearing in the midst of a pandemic, many of which are flawed.  Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID is his principle example.

Evaluating the quality of a research paper remains an important exercise.

2021-10-28T18:39:39-05:00October 28th, 2021|Home, Musings|

Matt Yglesias on Inflation

Matt Yglesias does some good writing on inflation and whether it should be considered “transitory” in his Slow Boring blog/newsletter.  You can subscribe here. Some excerpts:

“A huge global pandemic is a really big deal. It’s killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, many more people around the globe, and it’s also led to many cases of non-fatal illness that were nonetheless serious and involved hospitalizations or prolonged recuperation at home. The pandemic has also significantly altered almost everyone’s daily conduct — not commuting to offices, wearing masks on the job, conferences and conventions going global, schools getting stricter about attendance while sick. An economic cost alongside the humanitarian one is inevitable; there’s nothing fiscal or monetary policy can do about that. What policy can do is impact what kind of cost is ultimately borne.

In the beginning, it seemed like the pandemic would induce a really serious recession. But thanks to Jerome Powell and Steve Mnuchin and Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden and Raphael Warnock and others, that hasn’t been the case — we pumped a ton of money into the system, flushed people’s pockets with cash, and largely averted severe economic deprivation despite a very scary and disruptive virus. Instead, we got a moderate amount of inflation, which while bad is clearly preferable to a prolonged spell of mass unemployment. So why don’t policymakers always opt for “moderate amount of inflation” over “prolonged spell of mass unemployment?””

And he goes on to discuss in more detail (complete post is available for subscribers).

2021-10-28T18:40:07-05:00October 28th, 2021|Home, Musings|

In Defense of Democracy

• This open letter appearing in both The Bulwark and the New Republic, from both Democratic and Republican writers, academics, and activists, people from both sides and the middle of the political spectrum, is must reading.  Some excerpts:

“But right now we agree on a fundamental point: We need to join together to defend liberal democracy.

Because liberal democracy itself is in serious danger. Liberal democracy depends on free and fair elections, respect for the rights of others, the rule of law, a commitment to truth and tolerance in our public discourse. All of these are now in serious danger….

And we urge all responsible citizens who care about democracy—public officials, journalists, educators, activists, ordinary citizens—to make the defense of democracy an urgent priority now.”

We can’t let the people who want to make the US an unrepresentative, undemocratic autocracy, oligarchy (or whatever other applicable pejorative but accurate adjective) win.

2021-10-28T16:14:38-05:00October 28th, 2021|HomeRecommended|

Angus King on the Freedom to Vote Act

Heather Cox Richardson quotes Senator Angus King in her October 19 post; King is speaking about the Freedom to Vote Act:

“King urged his colleagues to change course, “to pull our country back from the brink, and to begin the work of restoring our democracy as we did in the Revolution, as we did in the Civil War, and as we did in the Civil Rights struggles: first, by simply telling the truth and then by enacting a set of basic protections of the sacred right to vote.” If they will not, he said, we will lose “our identity as a people,…the miracle of self-government, and…the idea of America.””

It’s important to remember that the Republican party wants to make it harder, not easier, to vote – and ideally for them, take away the right to vote entirely for people they believe are not likely to vote Republican.  Their voter suppression is thoroughly repugnant.

2021-10-20T19:13:02-05:00October 20th, 2021|Home, Musings|

Another valuable NYT The Morning essay by David Leonhardt, this time discussing the relative risks of Covid in the vaccinated elderly virus unvaccinated children.  Fortunately, children seem to be at very low risk themselves – probably the highest attributable risk that can be ascribed to them is inadvertent spread to those adults who are susceptible and at risk for severe disease.

2021-10-12T19:13:00-05:00October 12th, 2021|Home, Musings|

Remembering Steve

• A nice video tribute to Steve Jobs posted by Apple: Celebrating Steve.  It includes some heartfelt words from his family, including this wonderful paragraph:

One of our greatest sources of consolation has been our association
of Steve with beauty. The sight of something beautiful — a wooded hillside,
a well‑made object — recalls his spirit to us. Even in his years of suffering,
he never lost his faith in the beauty of existence.

2021-10-28T16:13:40-05:00October 5th, 2021|HomeRecommended|

Vaccines DO work!

A report from researchers at HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation found that vaccinations of Medicare beneficiaries were linked to a reduction in about 265,000 new Covid-19 infections, 107,000 hospitalizations, and 39,000 deaths in the U.S. between January and May of this year alone among Medicare beneficiaries (so this likely underestimates benefits to the entire vaccine-eligible population).

2021-10-05T17:53:10-05:00October 5th, 2021|Home, Musings|
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