What I'm Reading (July 7)

By Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA — Jul 07, 2022
Can science inform the abortion debate? Are you more likely to die from heat or cold? Could it be that part of our institutional problem is bullshit jobs? Ten things wrong about science reporting – I tried to avoid them all, not always successfully
Image by Perfecto_Capucine from Pixabay

“This is as good as science itself can get us. We can describe the biological functions of a fertilized egg, and the abilities of a fetus as it develops slowly into a person. But science cannot tell us what relative value to put on a fetus at varying stages of this development, how the potential for future development relates to that value, and what rights should accrue to a fetus at different stages of development.

Most importantly, science cannot tell us how to balance the relative rights of a fetus vs. the woman who carries that fetus.”

Stephen Novella’s discussion of the role of science in the debate over abortion captures not only the angst of the moment but of how circumscribed the role of science can often be in policymaking. Following the science does not always move the issues one way or another. From Neurologica, When Is A Fetus A Person?

 

As we roll into the summer, deaths from overheating garner attention, if not in the local news, then often as part of the weather reports. But as this article from Reason points out, whether there are more deaths from heat or cold is, with everything, complicated. More Heat Waves But Falling Heat Mortality In U.S.

 

“While corporations may engage in ruthless downsizing, the layoffs and speed-ups invariably fall on that class of people who are actually making, moving, fixing, and maintaining things; through some strange alchemy no one can quite explain, the number of salaried paper-pushers ultimately seems to expand, and more and more employees find themselves, not unlike Soviet workers actually, working 40 or even 50 hour weeks on paper, but effectively working 15 hours just as Keynes predicted since the rest of their time is spent organizing or attending motivational seminars, updating their Facebook profiles or downloading TV box-sets.”

I recently read a new biography of "Neutron Jack," Jack Welch, a Master of the Universe in the sense described by Tom Wolfe. Perhaps that has what has sensitized me to looking at the world as “Welchism” shaped it. From Strike magazine, a rant on jobs by anthropologist David Graeber, On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: A Work Rant.

“I read a lot of news about science and science policies. This probably doesn’t surprise you. But it may surprise you that most of the time I find science news extremely annoying. It seems to be written for an audience which doesn’t know the first thing about science. But I wonder, is it just me who finds this annoying? So, in this video I’ll tell you the 10 things that annoy me most about science news, and then I want to hear what you think about this. Why does science news suck so much? That’s what we’ll talk about today.”

From the blog (remember those?) of Sabine Hossenfelder, Ph.D., a theoretical physicist. Once again, another member of the scientific community sings the ACSH song.  Here is the print version, Why does science news suck so much? Or, if you like your thoughts on video, the YouTube version

 

 

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.

Recent articles by this author:
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