Harm Reduction

Space is a harsh environment. We’re all familiar with the big risks from television – asteroids, solar flares, lack of air, extreme temperatures, and the occasional testy alien ships. What we don’t think about quite as much is the radiation. With trips to the Moon and Mars, in the planning stages, we are once again about to send people into that harsh universe. In addition to the engineering, logistics, and everything else that goes into such trips, NASA is looking at revising the limits for radiation exposure its astronauts can receive. 
Like a number of our friends, my wife and I are switching to a more plant-based diet but still find a steak or fish a good occasional choice. That got us to talking about why some people choose to restrict their diet. In looking for an answer I ran across a plausible explanation, that generalizes to other issues.
Much of our behavioral changes during the COVID-19 pandemic are driven by fear, a primal survival instinct, subsequently re-enforced by state mandates. It is proving difficult for some to unwind their fear even having been vaccinated. Is fear the best means of influencing our behavior? 
It took only a few days for the American Federation of Teachers, their second-largest union, to say “not so fast” to the CDC’s recommendation for opening schools by reducing pupils' distance from six to three feet. What is the science behind their concerns?
Let’s not forget that the goal in tamping down the COVID-19 pandemic is to vaccinate the world. But it’s an ambitious project impaired by the concepts of “vaccine nationalism,” fostered by “vaccine diplomacy.” We should consider more than how those words make us feel.
The push to reopen schools continues, as does the back and forth between the CDC’s school-opening guidelines and the teachers' unions saying “not so fast.” Could we all agree that remote learning has not adequately replaced in-class learning? Here is some data to consider.
COVID-19 has brought racial and gender disparities in healthcare to the forefront, although they have been present for many years. A new article captures the gap in research participation.
A new article in the journal Clinical Toxicology reports on prohibited stimulants, found in significant amounts, in several sports and weight-loss supplements. Don’t let the long (and maybe scary) title of the research fool you. It presents sound science and deserves a broader audience than just toxicologists.
It costs considerably more to live in an assisted-living setting than to remain at home. But our healthcare system frequently doesn’t address the changes to the “infrastructure” necessary to allow individuals to access that option. We are, at best, being “penny wise, pound foolish.” And, at worst, we're placing the elderly in less hospitable environments.
The CDC just revised its guidance to K-12 schools on the social-distancing guidelines for keeping students and staff safe, from six to three feet. Is the agency following the science? Bending to a new political will? Here's what led to that decision.
Science should always be open to new approaches and ideas. Perhaps this seems self-evident, but although this may sound good in theory, many scientists view new approaches challenging their long-held beliefs with skepticism or downright hostility. Rather than rationally examining ideas that cause discomfort, ideas are off-handedly dismissed, and the people advancing them are attacked. This is the scientific version of “cancel culture.”
Gerardo Gutierrez, a 70-year old deli-worker employed by Publix grocery stores, died on April 28, 2020, from COVID-19. Sadly, Gerry, as his friends called him, died in a hospital – alone, with his family only able to bid goodbye via video call. Even more sadly, it's quite possible he didn’t need to die if, as his attorneys claim, Publix had acted prudently.