What I'm Reading: Special Edition

By Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA — Sep 13, 2022
Why special? I had some free time, so I read a bit more; this edition includes Besties? ! A step-by-step guide to producing pseudoscience Quals vs. Quants Unelected, Unknown, and Highly Influential – The Corporate Deep State
Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

I am blessed with some good friends, some old, some new, but all that rally around when the times get rough. That was not always the case, especially during my more active work years when we collected “friends” through my interactions at work. Rarely did they break through to “besties,” and when the chips were down, they were not around. Here is a bit of what Dr. Peter Attia writes about friends.

“The lowest level of Aristotle’s proposed friendship hierarchy is utilitarian friendships: the relationships that have the least emotional connection and primarily serve the purpose of helping us achieve our goals. This type of friendship may bring some temporary enjoyment from spending time together, but it doesn’t tend to bring lasting joy to your life. … In contrast, at the highest rung of the Aristotelian hierarchy is “perfect friendship,” defined only by mutually valuing the other’s existence.”

Prioritizing “real friends” over “deal friends”


Here is a topic near and dear to us at ACSH.

“Pseudoscience fools us by cloaking itself in the trappings of science. It also appeals to the part of us that needs hope when modern medicine, despite its incredible progress, doesn’t have all the answers. However, because pseudoscience doesn’t adhere to the processes that make science reliable, being misled can lead to real harm. The first step in protecting yourself against pseudoscience is recognizing its characteristics”

From the Skeptical Inquirer, How to Sell Pseudoscience


“Using quantitative methods to demonstrate the weight of well-known structures is like beating a dead horse with a highly sophisticated bludgeon. Do we need to spend so much time and effort to collect, count, and classify if the results are predictable or expected? There are, however, different, more rewarding ways to count.

Counting always requires a decision to consider two elements as equivalent or different from one another

… What drives quantification is the density of information and the determination to deal with it in a systematic way – rather than dealing directly with entire societies.”

Narrative is what provides the tears for statistics. It is difficult to explain or theorize about our behavior purely quantitatively; qualitative description binds numbers and tables into something more significant than either. Aeon brings us this tale of the continuing battle of the quants vs. the quals, but in this case, in the discipline of history, not science. Should the lens of history be individuals and their agency or the big data of statistical analysis? History by the Numbers


Did you read my piece on the Texas Two-Step? It is a legal maneuver designed to get corporations, in this instance J&J, out of costly liability class actions. It involved a legal firm, James Day. The New York Times has much more to tell us about this firm. How a Corporate Law Firm Led a Political Revolution. No matter what side of the aisle you occupy, whether you agree with James Day or not, this level of influence, insider special interest influence, by unelected, largely unknown, and unaccountable individuals is not how a healthy democracy works. Why does the name Harding echo in my head?

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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