What I'm Reading (Mar. 10)

By Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA — Mar 10, 2022
MIT’s first female student and professor, why nutritional studies go awry, a Carl Sagan Moment, and “clandestine” Chinese scientists and our northern neighbor.
Image courtesy of useche70 on Pixabay

“Ellen Swallow Richards was not going to be intimidated by a room full of health experts and officials. Children were dying and their parents, Boston’s taxpayers, and city officials were to blame. … So when she took the podium at the 1896 meeting of the American Public Health Association, she wasted no time in laying out her evidence.

More than 5,000 cases of illness could be attributed to the illegal conditions in Boston’s public schools, she said. Buildings lacked ventilation. Sewer pipes were still open. Toilets were filthy. Some 41 percent of the floors had never been washed. Only 27 of the city’s 168 schools had fire escapes that worked. Fully half of Boston’s schoolhouses were “deleterious to health.” The public and parents should be charged with “the murder of some 200 children per year,” Richards declared, their deaths entirely preventable from environmental hazards.”

Ms. Richards was the first woman graduate of MIT and their first female faculty member. It is an interesting story of a woman who broke many a glass ceiling and perhaps was the first to use the word ecology in speaking of animals, plants, and humans. From Nautil.us, The Woman Who Gave Us the Science of Normal Life

One of the easiest scientific studies to take down are observational studies of nutrition – you know, how eating one extra slice of pizza will reduce your life by ten years. Peter Attia, MD, has a great summary of why these studies go awry and how they can be improved.

“I make no secret of my disdain for nutritional epidemiology studies. Between their reliance on weak methods, weak measurements, weak analyses, and weak reporting, I would hardly know where to begin in simply describing the problems with these study types, let alone identifying their possible solutions.

Fortunately, David Allison and his colleagues have succeeded where I would surely fail. … David and his team have turned their attention toward the current state of nutritional epidemiology, publishing an insightful review in which they discuss the many flaws of such investigations and suggest potential remedies to enhance their rigor and utility.”

From Peter Attia, MD,  Nutritional epidemiology: abolition vs defending the status quo

Perspective is essential, as Carl Sagan points out in this video moment.



“Xiangguo Qiu would seem an unlikely character in a tale of international intrigue. A mild-mannered scientist who won accolades for her work fighting the deadly Ebola virus inside Canada’s most secure laboratory, her career was cut short in July 2019, when she and her husband were escorted out of her Winnipeg lab by the RCMP. Since then, she has become a central figure in a major political battle in Ottawa and the star of international conspiracy theories. She has been accused of selling state secrets, contributing to a clandestine Chinese bioweapons program, and even of helping to create COVID-19.”


What is going on in Canada, our more mannered Northern neighbor? From MacCleans, A brilliant scientist was mysteriously fired from a Winnipeg virus lab. No one knows why.

Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA

Director of Medicine

Dr. Charles Dinerstein, M.D., MBA, FACS is Director of Medicine at the American Council on Science and Health. He has over 25 years of experience as a vascular surgeon.

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