News and Views

Lovers of escargot, you have company. Newly-discovered company. But they eat a bit differently than you do.

Herpetologists working in South America say they have come across five new species of snakes, and their meal of choice is the snail. These tree snakes have been uncovered by researchers from the American Museum of National History, located in New York, and the discovery was made public today in a paper published in the peer-review journal, Zookeys.

The five snakes, located in Peru and the rainforests of Ecuador, sustain themselves in part by sucking snails out of their hard-shelled habitat by using a modified jaw, which allows them to go where other predators cannot. But despite this unique talent,...

The Gray Lady has gotten raunchy in her old age. News has just broken that the New York Times's national security reporter, Ali Watkins, was sleeping with a source who worked as an aide to the Senate Intelligence Committee. That source has now been arrested as part of an investigation into leaks of classified information.

It's long been known that journalism, like the legal profession, attracts its fair share of agenda-driven sleazebags who prioritize half-truths and personal ambition over honor and veracity, perhaps none more so than the New York Times. Back in 2003, Jayson Blair, a reporter for the NYT, resigned because he plagiarized and...

There's no nice way to put this. Academia is in the midst of self-destructing, not just in the United States but worldwide.

Recall that, just two months ago, Fresno State Professor Randa Jarrar went on a hate-filled Twitter rant against the recently deceased Barbara Bush. Her diatribe was so vile, that the university investigated the possibility of terminating or disciplining her. But, nothing happened, despite the fact that a video surfaced of her praising airplane hijackings (1:07) and making a sexual gesture at students (2:02).

Just a week later, the University of...

Light – both in its abundance and absence – is a crucial determinant in a person's ability to sleep. And as we learn more and more about how to create better sleeping conditions, as well as improve those found in difficult settings, sleep researchers always consider how any changes will affect the circadian rhythm. As many people know, that rhythm serves as our internal clock, which is based on exposure to light that "tells" us when we should be awake or asleep.

In a typical 24-hour day, one's circadian rhythm benefits from long stretches of daylight and darkness, which is good since long, interrupted sleep is the goal for good health and clear-headedness. But for many off-cycle people like, for example, night-shift workers, insomniacs and round-the-clock hospital physicians,...

In case anyone still had any lingering reservations about Dr. Oz's quack status, he removed all doubt in his recent endorsement of astrology.

Just to clarify, that would be astrology, not astronomy. The latter is a real science that studies the universe; the former is what fortune tellers and tabloid newspapers use to dupe gullible people into buying their products. It's not even fair to call astrology "junk science" or "pseudoscience," because that implies astrology is at least based on something resembling science. But it is not. It is unadulterated charlatanism. The positions of Jupiter and Venus in the night sky have absolutely no relevance to your life -- unless you own a telescope.

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In our postmodern society -- where truth is relative, "fake news" is prevalent, and scientific facts are just an opinion -- it shouldn't come as a surprise that modern medicine is facing a backlash.

Evidence-based medicine, which is supported by a bedrock of biomedical science, literally has saved the lives of billions of people. Yet, modern medicine has been sustaining an assault from multiple fronts in recent years.

One front has fought against long-standing practices of public health meant to prevent disease, such as vaccination, pasteurization, and water fluoridation. A second front rages against those responsible for treating disease, such as medical doctors and pharmaceutical companies, who have been accused of conspiring against patients, for instance by...

How can we get more parents to vaccinate their children? That is one of the questions that keep me and others in the pro-science community awake at night. 

A new correspondence in The Lancet may bring us one step closer to an answer through its analysis of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program in Ireland that began in 2010. 

The HPV vaccination program targeted girls aged 12–13 years. At the beginning of the program, the percentage of girls who were vaccinated was above 80%, reaching its highest level of vaccination in 2014–15 of 86.9% (see figure below.)

However, the high rate of vaccination dropped to 72·3% in 2015-16 (see figure below)...

OK, time for a pop quiz based upon reading Access Imperative by McKinsey and Company.

Dr. Dan is employed by Big Box Health Care to provide primary care health services 40 hours a week. In the last month, he averaged 24 15-minute appointments daily. 

1. His unused capacity is

  1. Eight appointments daily
  2. 25%
  3. 2 hours

Correct answer – b. Unused capacity is what percentage of the time paid is not being spent with patients. Providers are vessels to be filled and as the report indicates Unused capacity = less productivity = less access for patients.

2. How can Dr. Dan best increase his fill rate?

  1. Increase backfill
  2. Charge for no-...

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released their preliminary report on the fatal crash of an autonomous Uber car and pedestrian in Arizona yesterday. Because it is a preliminary report, no probable cause has been officially identified. Here are the takeaways:

  • The pedestrian was wearing dark clothes, walking a bicycle with reflectors perpendicular to the car’s path and therefore not seen. She was crossing in an area not directly illuminated by the roadway lighting that was functioning and present. She looked at the vehicle just before impact and toxicology reports found methamphetamine and marijuana.
  • The driver, another woman, was on the second loop...

Memorial Day weekend: Three days that serve to honor our military and remember those that gave their lives for our country. It is also the unofficial kick-off off summer fever. The warm summer evenings by the lake and the barbeques in the park bring with them an unfortunate consequence - bug bites. And, in certain areas of the world, being bit by a mosquito is more than just a nuisance. It is a major health risk.

Infectious diseases that are carried by mosquitoes like malaria, Zika virus, dengue virus and Chikungunya virus to name a few, infect millions of people worldwide and any efforts to reduce spread are important to improving global human health. One way to tackle these diseases is to detect the virus or bacteria once it has infected a person and treat that person. Another...