Thursday, July 21, 2005


Remember this when you hear the diet dictators:

New research highlights a frustrating fact about science: What was good for you yesterday frequently will turn out to be not so great tomorrow. The sobering conclusion came in a review of major studies published in three influential medical journals between 1990 and 2003, including 45 highly publicized studies that initially claimed a drug or other treatment worked. Subsequent research contradicted results of seven studies -- 16 percent -- and reported weaker results for seven others, an additional 16 percent. That means nearly one-third of the original results did not hold up, according to the report in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Contradicted and potentially exaggerated findings are not uncommon in the most visible and most influential original clinical research,'' said study author Dr. John Ioannidis, a researcher at the University of Ioannina in Greece. Ioannidis examined research in the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA and Lancet -- prominent journals whose weekly studies help feed a growing public appetite for medical news.

Experts say the report is a reminder to doctors and patients that they should not put too much stock in a single study and understand that treatments often become obsolete with medical advances. "The crazy part about science and yet the exciting part about science is you almost never have something that's black and white,'' said Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, JAMA's editor-in-chief. Editors at the New England Journal of Medicine added in a statement: "A single study is not the final word, and that is an important message.''

The refuted studies dealt with a wide range of drugs and treatments. Hormone pills were once thought to protect menopausal women from heart disease but later were shown to do the opposite, and Vitamin E pills have not been shown to prevent heart attacks, contrary to initial results. Contradictions also included a study that found nitric oxide does not improve survival in patients with respiratory failure, despite earlier claims. And a study suggested an antibody treatment did not improve survival in certain sepsis patients; a smaller previous study found the opposite.

Ioannidis acknowledged an important but not very reassuring caveat: "There's no proof that the subsequent studies ... were necessarily correct.'' But he noted that in all 14 cases in which results were contradicted or softened, the subsequent studies were either larger or better designed. Also, none of the contradicted treatments is currently recommended by medical guidelines.

Not by accident, this week's JAMA also includes a study contradicting previous thinking that stomach-lying helped improve breathing in children hospitalized with acute lung injuries. The new study found they did no better than patients lying on their backs. DeAngelis said she included the study with Ioannidis' report to highlight the issue. She said the media can complicate matters with misleading or exaggerated headlines about studies.

Ioannidis said scientists and editors should avoid "giving selective attention only to the most promising or exciting results'' and should make the public more aware of the limitations of science. "The general public should not panic" about refuted studies, he said. "We all need to start thinking more critically."

From Associated Press, 14 July 2005

Benny Peiser comments:

"Scientists and editors should avoid giving selective attention only to the most exciting results and should make the public more aware of the limitations of science. 'We all need to start thinking more critically...'"

Shock, Horror! This borders on heresy! Less selective science reporting? More critical thinking? That's dangerous and only fosters doubt and scepticism. It certainly will undermine political agendas, scare tactics and funding campaigns! On the other hand, perhaps someone should convey the basic message to our friends, the climate alarmists. Or better still, why not conduct a similar survey of climate research papers published during the last 20 years? I am pretty sure we would get very similar results.


Post lifted from Bear to the Right

The San Bernardino City Unified School District wants to teach "ebonics" to black students in order to "provide students a more well-rounded curriculum", according to this article in the San Bernardino Sun. According to the article:

"Mary Texeira, a sociology professor at Cal State San Bernardino, commended the San Bernardino Board of Education for approving the policy in June. Texeira suggested that including Ebonics in the program would be beneficial for students. Ebonics, a dialect of American English that is spoken by many blacks throughout the country, was recognized as a separate language in 1996 by the Oakland school board. "Ebonics is a different language, it's not slang as many believe,' Texeira said. "For many of these students Ebonics is their language, and it should be considered a foreign language. These students should be taught like other students who speak a foreign language."

I thought that we teach English to students who speak a foreign language. This is more of the failed "multiculturism" policy that I wrote about here. The article indicates that

"Beginning in the 2005-06 school year, teachers will receive training on black culture and customs. District curriculum will now include information on the historical, cultural and social impact of blacks in society. Although the program is aimed at black students, other students can choose to participate." Board member Danny Tillman, who pushed for the policy, said that full implementation of the program at all schools may take years, but the pilot program is a beginning. "At every step we will see positive results,' Tillman said. Tillman hoped the new policy would increase the number of black students going to college and participating in advanced courses.

What's that? Teaching ebonics to black students will increase the number going to college and participating in advanced courses? I always thought that in order to go to college students needed to have proficiency in English. Programs such as these, that set apart a group of children from mainstream culture and celebrate their differences, tend to alienate those children from mainstream society, as I wrote here.

Children of all ethnic backgrounds and races should be taught English and should be taught to be Americans, assimilating and blending in to the American culture, rather than being alienated from that culture. This is a policy destined to program these children to not feeling part of American culture and therefore to not being able to take advantage of the opportunities that may come their way when they are adults. It is a program proposed by the Left to keep African-Americans and other ethnic groups dependent on a welfare-state. By not preparing them to have the ability to achieve success on their own, Democrats and liberals will have another generation of dependent ethnic groups who will be their constituency.

If only African-Americans and other ethnic groups would realize that these so-called multicultural proprams work to their economic and cultural disadvantage and prevent their children from success in the American culture. Liberals need "victims" who will support them when they promise to bring them government benefits. Independent and economically successful minorities don't need liberals. Figure it out, folks.


Lleyton Hewitt's already exciting week just got a little spicier with the news that he had joined the likes of John Laws and landed in hot water with the gay lobby.

The short-fused groom-to-be said "Who is this poofter?" during his fiery, three-hour match against Argentina's Guillermo Coria in the Davis Cup quarter-final in Sydney on Saturday.

Lleyton's apparent use of the P-word has angered the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, which has demanded an apology. "I know it is a term that is used widely, but for him to say it and get away with it means anyone can," a spokesman, Paul Dillon, told Spike. "It is more than rude; it is a term that is only ever used as a means to put someone down."

Spike's calls to Hewitt's management were not returned yesterday, so we don't yet know if he's going to retract his remark.


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