What I'm Reading (May 30)

By Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA — May 30, 2024
When Average won't suffice, science, a strong-link problem The body electric Is the British Museum a crime scene? Scientific American has been “woke” for over a century
Image by Gabi from Pixabay

If we do not understand the problem, it is often difficult to achieve a solution. The author suggests that problems can be considered weak or strong-linked in this piece.

“When you’re looking to find a doctor for a routine procedure, you’re in a weak-link problem. It would be great to find the best doctor on the planet, of course, but an average doctor is fine—you just want to avoid someone who’s going to prescribe you snake oil or botch your wart removal. …

But if you’re diagnosed with a terminal disease, you’re suddenly in a strong-link problem. An average doctor won’t cut it for you anymore, because average means you die. You need a miracle, and you’re furious at anyone who would stop that from happening: the government for banning drugs that might help you, doctors who refuse to do risky treatments, and a medical establishment that’s more worried about preventing quacks than allowing the best healers to do as they please.

Science is a strong-link problem.”

From Experimental History, Science is a strong-link problem

 

Consider this passage,

“That code controls the complicated biological processes that formed you in the womb by executing a controlled program of cell growth and death. It is the reason you retain that same shape throughout your entire life; it prunes your dividing cells so you keep being recognizably you. It wasn’t the only important thing—biomechanics, biochemicals, and all the rest mattered too.”

Most of us, including me, think of DNA when we read “That code,” but we are wrong. There is another code that governs how we form and the shape we take, why both arms are not on the left, and why our feet do not project out of our heads. From Nautil.us, The Body Electric

 

I refer to the British National Museum as their evidence locker, home of many cultural artifacts they have “acquired” over centuries of colonialism and commercial endeavors. One of the most famous, of course, is the Parthenon (Elgin) Marbles. This video captures their journey from Greece to their “forever home” in London.

 

 

 

Scientific American has come in for some significant criticism of late for being too “woke” in its writings. Of course, a little digging shows that not only has Scientific American been politicized, as is true with all scientific applications, for decades, but it has also bounced from one end of the political spectrum to another.

“For much of its history, Scientific American carved out a niche between journalism and peer-reviewed journals. That hybrid model, however, also gave us a wide berth without clear boundaries. We could operate in both spaces without having to adhere to the rules of either one. As long as an article could be classified as scientific in its approach, was not too fringe-y, and, more important, was contributed by a person of appropriate reputation (that is, mostly elite, white, older men), there was an editorial attitude of “anything goes.” And too often anything did.

Brinton and his cohort were not hapless scientists whose research was perverted for nefarious policy. The highest goal of anthropology, Brinton wrote, is to measure the “peculiarities” of “races, nations, tribes” so that people can be governed according to their “sub-species.” These differences “supply the only sure foundation for legislation; not a priori notions of the rights of man.” In 1896, less than a year after we published Brinton's speech, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that “separate but equal” schools and other facilities were legal.”

From Scientific American, Reckoning with our Mistakes