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CharonY

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CharonY last won the day on September 14

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2294 Glorious Leader

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About CharonY

  • Rank
    Biology Expert

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  • Location
    somewhere in the Americas.
  • Interests
    Breathing. I enjoy it a lot, when I can.
  • College Major/Degree
    PhD
  • Favorite Area of Science
    Biology/ (post-)genome research
  • Biography
    Labrat turned grantrat.

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  1. I have to advise caution in the interpretation of food-borne disease illnesses. Countries have different ways to identify and quantify outbreaks and one cannot easily just look at the raw data. There is also a difference between severity which makes it even trickier. One way to normalize the data is to calculate disability adjusted life years (DALY), which basically is an estimate of years lost to ill-health or death. From there and using WHO data there is not a vast difference between the North American region (USA, Canada, Cuba, 35 DALY per 100,000 ) vs Western Europe (40-50 DALY per 100,000; I do not have finer grained data on hand). While there are significant differences in the type of diseases. there is not a huge difference when it comes to Salmonella infections. In fact, it is slightly lower in the NA region (9 vs 12), though it is difficult to disentangle the effects of animal handling, food production, impact of chlorination and the health care system. However, the point is that it the calculated health burden are the totality of all these measures. I.e. it is possible that without chlorination the DALY might increase in the US, which would indicate that Europe is doing something better without the need for it. Or it may not make a difference, indicating that the practice is useless. But the tricky bit is really finding which elements in the whole chain are really protective, especially as certain elements may rely on other part of the whole thing. So as a whole it is not trivial to state whether the whole food chain is safer in Europe vs North America (or even US specifically). Each regulations seem to keep the burden of food-borne diseases somewhat similarly in check, but there are also other benefits when it comes to different approaches in regulating the food chain. But again, I think direct comparisons are difficult, not least because rules and regulations in each region are not necessarily based on best science, but rather a quagmire of heavily politicized historic rules, regulation and practices. With increasing globalization the food supply chain has become even more complex and I have severe doubt that regulations are keeping up.
  2. I think laws only apply in somewhat narrow range and of course only if it can be demonstrated to be a patterns of sorts. Individual actions based on dislikes are quite difficult to address in a legal sense.
  3. I have to wonder, what benefit do you get from perpetrating falsehoods? Why do folks do waste their time making up stuff on social media? At best no one is listening, at worse, people believe it and do something that increases their risk. What is the possible scenario in which the person disseminating these falsehood is not the bad guy? A disease outbreak involves everyone who does not happen to live alone on a deserted island. And thinking otherwise is the main reason why we are unable to quickly contain them. It is the reason why we have close to one million confirmed deaths from this one disease alone.
  4. I think it is not quite easy to make a blanket statement regarding the effectiveness of regulations in either area. The overall safety standards are similar but there are differences in certain details such as the mentioned chloriniation, use of growth hormones, allowed additives some of the labelling and processing standards and so on. A general issue with some of these agreements is that there is the worry that in order to allow bilateral trade the lowest common denominator might be used, which affect food safety but also has environmental and animal welfare concerns.
  5. Well as iNow said, the Republicans blocked a nomination by Obama arguing that a seat should only filled by the incoming president. As we all know, it is unlikely that the GOP will remember what they themselves claimed. But there was no real rule that they could claim other than having control of the senate. Edit: Well it is clear that they do not care about being hypocrites, McConnell already announced that “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
  6. The first requirement is a robust and unbiased means of data collection. Just observing and noting features inevitably results in a biased data set. Say, I for some reason hate country, I am more likely to find folks blaring country more annoying, for example.I might also in my mind memorize features I associate with country music listeners more strongly than other features. The result is that I then have, in my mind, evidence that country-related features are clearly associated with rudeness. It is in fact very difficult to develop an unbiased method for recording observations even before one can do any analyses on the data set. Garbage in garbage out, so to say.
  7. It depends how you segment the data and the Michigan study was aimed at specific scenarios which is not well-suited for broader interpretation of road safety. But take a look at this finer-grained study looking at per km-driven fatality rates . If accounting for actual distance traveled, men had roughly 2-4 times the fatalities compared to women for most driving modes. The main exception were motorcycles (about 12 times higher) and buses (~1.3 times higher). I am not sure whether there are similar studies of that level in the US, but this study suggest rather clearly that regardless of type of vehicle, men are on average at higher risk after accounting for distance driven.
  8. While I think there is a moral argument to made, the loss of life is perhaps not even a good indicator. Obviously we as a society accept loss of life to a certain degree. For example mild flu season roughly kill a similar number of people, and bad ones close to double of that. Still we do not make flu vaccinations mandatory, for example. I think a broader argument could be made for the overall impact of private vehicles (such as environmental impact) and balance them with need. One issue that the US has is that in most areas public transportation is really bad and the cities are built around car ownership. So to address the issue it requires a broader discussion on how to revamp cities and how to properly implement public transportation with reduced environmental impact. As a sidenote, the highest fatalities (and again, I do not think that this is really that important) are found a) among men in each age group (difference range from 57-75% of all fatalities per age group) and while the group of over 65 year old males are overrepresented, it is even worse for age groups 16-25. Using that logic we basically should only let women between 31 and 60 drive cars.
  9. That is weird, considering that almost all sources say that they are clearly a breach of existing agreements (in fact, some articles imply that Johnson in fact acknowledged the breach but claims that they are vital). Perhaps you can provide a source outlining how it is not a breach of agreements. Because at this point it seems to me a rather extraordinary claim. Edit: crossposted.
  10. We have and had a number of outreach programs and those are generally well-liked. One popular format was essentially renting a pub and have a member of faculty just talking about something within their realm of expertise (think Ted talks with less polish and much less sales). It is also something that especially younger faculty eagerly pick up, which is quite a bit different to the professors I had when I was a student a long time ago. However, obviously there is some self-selection going on. Most folks going to those events are those that are already interested in science or at least are not active science deniers. In many cases I feel it is not due to lack of engagement, rather by growing up in an environment that has a strong anti-science identity. These most prominently (and traditionally) include religious groups, which, ironically, see discussions about evolution as a form of indoctrination (and in fact, there are students who are utterly surprised how much sense it makes once they get out of their household, so it is not entirely impossible). More recently climate change has become trigger word or even "equity". In other words, I do not think it is the message itself or even the delivery, but rather the fact that there are groups that strongly identify with an issue to such a degree that they block off any form of discussion. The related issue is that those group also see education as indoctrination, which is a key element of the anti-science movement. In other words, if folks manage to make sure that at least part of their identity is tied to a specific issues and then on top make the reject any different information, you have the recipe for outright science denial. This is one of the reasons why in recent times media as well as academia were called liberal bastions, in an effort to make people cut themselves off from information.
  11. I think there is no clear answer to that. Studies basically are looking it from two perspectives. One mechanistically, which looks at virus survival in droplets and ejection and the other is epidemiological where folks look at likelihood at being infected outside. From the latter viewpoint, it appears that casual outdoor infections are very rare and mostly connected with folks being close to each other. Mechanistically, evidence suggests that e.g. in saliva it would take minutes for sun-inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 (~6 minutes for 90% inactivation), so at least theoretically if someone sneezes in the air and you run straight through it, you might get exposed to active particles (sneezing on the ground would arguably be safer). But again, most evidence suggests that overall infection chances are low under these conditions.
  12. I will say that it depends on the extent of exaggeration and whether it is based on misuse of science or just taking the worst (but still realistic) prediction. It is quite a bit of a difference compared to, say, a multi-billion dollar campaign to downplay it.
  13. I think that was always a bit the case. Scientists were perhaps respected, but also considered aloof, ivory tower elites. In my experience there have been a lot of measures aimed at making science more accessible. For example, we often have to put in news reports about our research that is for public consumption and almost all grants require to have a layman summary. But as a whole I do not think that it has moved public perception much. But I think that the process of actively disbelieving science has started from the top. Now, social media are instrumental in drowning out information, further accelerating the process and so far we do not have any real means to slow it down.
  14. I think it is wrong to narrowly focus on the Trump administration. It is merely the result of at least decades of anti-science sentiments. One of the main topics used to be creationism which got a strong push into the open in the 2000s (incidentally one of the reasons why I joined this forum). The movement started well before that, though and was an alliance of industrial interests, conservative leadership and media. In essence it was a broader effort to undermine the very concept of scientific validity and thereby allowing politicians to act without the constraints of reality. Key efforts were obviously put on areas with monetary interest, such as climate change denial and over time it morphed into a weird form of conservative identity. Originally a bit fringy, over time it it became the mainstream we see today. This is not exclusive to the US, even in other Western countries, such as Canada, and Australia similar political efforts were made to silence scientists involved in climate change research. However, the cultural identification with denial seems to be an US export.
  15. ! Moderator Note Merged similar topics.
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