System for Approving New Medical Options Needs Improvement
Posted on December 31, 2012 Comments (0)
Without a rigorous, data-driven context, medicine’s expensive traditions and hunch-based treatments threaten to bankrupt us. “People say that we shouldn’t delay science; people are dying; we should get new treatments out there. I do not feel the pressure to do that until we have solid evidence,” Ioannidis asserts. “The resources many procedures draw are enormous.” And that leaves insufficient funds for the prevention plans and treatments we know actually work.
I have written about the problems with our health care research system several times. The existing system is in need of improvement and is made much worse by the general state of the broken health care system in the USA. Dr. John P.A. Ioannidis, the focus of the article, is doing fantastic work in this area.
Related: Majority of Clinical Trials Don’t Provide Meaningful Evidence – Statistical Errors in Medical Studies – USA Spends $7,960 Compared to Around $3,800 for Other Rich Countries on Health Care with No Better Health Results – Drug Company Funding Taints Published Medical Research – Mistakes in Experimental Design and Interpretation – Understanding Data
Make Crosswalks More Visible
Posted on December 25, 2012 Comments (2)
Good simple idea. And then executed well – for nighttime at least. Crosswalk lights up when in use giving drivers a more visible clue to stop.
Related: Ministry of Silly Walks – Kindergarten Students Pedel Their Own Bus to School – Passion for Mechanical Engineering Nurtured as a Child – Bird Feeder That Automatically Takes Photos When Birds Feed – Encouraging Curiosity in Kids
Circumhorizontal Arcs – Fire Rainbows – Cloud Rainbows
Posted on December 20, 2012 Comments (3)
Yesterday afternoon I spotted this odd, colorful, spectrum seemingly in a cloud in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The colors are similar to a rainbow but the prism effect takes on a bit different form than a rainbow as I learned with a bit of searching online. I added a short post to this blog, about the phenomenon a few years ago.
A circumhorizontal arc is an optical phenomenon – an ice-halo formed by plate-shaped ice crystals in high level cirrus clouds. They are also known as “fire rainbows,” if the cloud is at the right angle to the sun, the crystals will refract the sunlight just as when rainbow is created.
Working as a Software Developer
Posted on December 17, 2012 Comments (11)
For most of my career I have been focused on management improvement – helping organizations improve results. Technology plays a big role in that and along the way I found myself becoming a programer for a while; and then a software development program manager. This is a good post on working as a software developer:
Write for people first, computer second. The code you write will be read many times in the future (by you, or another developer). The computer doesn’t care how the code is written, so make it as easy as possible to understand for the next person that has to read it. A corollary to this is: don’t be too clever. It’s better to be clear than to be clever.
When there is a compelling need to write for the computer first and people second make sure to document that code well. For example, some code that is extremely dense and complex and confusing but greatly enhances the efficiency of a critical area of code.
I recently wrote a book, Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability. There are many great things about a career in software development. It certainly is also challenging and not for someone looking for the easiest career but I have seem a higher percentage of happy software developers than I have seen in any other discipline.
Related: How To Become A Software Engineer/Programmer – The Software Developer Labor Market – Avoiding Tragedy of the Commons for Software Development – Preparing Computer Science Students for Jobs – Hiring the Best Fit For Your Company in an Inefficient Job Market – Want to be a Computer Game Programmer? – What Graduates Should Know About an IT Career
Promoting Innovation in Sierra Leone
Posted on December 13, 2012 Comments (4)
Another inspirational kid that shows that the potential for human good is much greater than the talking heads and politicians that litter the TV screen so often.
In the video Kelvin says, “That is my aim: to Promote Innovation in Seira Leone, among young people.” See another video as Kelvin explains his homemade battery.
Support these young engineers in Sierra Leone via innovate Salone.
Related: Inspirational Engineer Build Windmill Using Trash – Supporting the Natural Curiosity of Kids – What Kids can Learn If Given a Chance – I was Interviewed About Encouraging Kids to Pursue Engineering
Posted on December 9, 2012 Comments (0)
Arduino Introduction Video Tutorial
Posted on December 5, 2012 Comments (2)
Arduino is a very cool open source programable hardware engineering initiative. It is great for kids and adults who like to learn and create electronic devices. The Arduino Starter Kit is a great education gift for those interested in such things.
The video explains how to build a basic circuit with the Arduino board, and how to use each of the basic components such as LEDs, switches, and resistors. See more videos on related topics. Massimo Banzi, the co-creator and CEO of Arduino, and seen in the videos, also has a book: Getting Started with Arduino.
Cancer Risks From Our Food
Posted on December 3, 2012 Comments (3)
The vast majority of those studies, Schoenfeld and Ioannidis found, showed really weak associations between the ingredient at hand and cancer risk. A full 80 percent of the studies had shown statistical relationships that were “weak or nominally significant,” as measured by the study’s P-values. Seventy-five percent of the studies purporting to show a higher cancer risk fell into this category, as did 76 percent of those showing a lower cancer risk.
Sadly the evidence is often not very compelling but creates uncertainly in the public. Poorly communicated results and scientific illiteracy (both from publishers and the public) leads to more confusion than is necessary. Even with well done studies, good communication and a scientifically literate population nutrition and human health conclusion are more often questionable than they are clear.
Friday Fun: Cat Playing Ping Pong
Posted on November 30, 2012 Comments (1)
Drug Company Funding Taints Published Medical Research
Posted on November 26, 2012 Comments (2)
Science provide the opportunity for us to achieve great benefits for society. However, especially in medical research money can make what are already very difficult judgments even less reliable. Add that to a very poor understanding of science in those we elect and you have a dangerous combination. That combination is one of the largest risks we face and need to manage better. I wish we would elect people with a less pitiful appreciation for science but that doesn’t seem likely. That makes doing a better job of managing the conflicts of interest money puts into our current medical research a top priority.
How Drug Company Money Is Undermining Science by Charles Seife
Peer-reviewed journals are littered with studies showing how drug industry money is subtly undermining scientific objectivity. A 2009 study in Cancer showed that participants somehow survived longer when a study’s authors had conflicts of interest than when the authors were clean. A 1998 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found a “strong association” between researchers’ conclusions about the safety of calcium channel blockers, a class of drugs used to reduce blood pressure, and their financial relationships with the firms producing the drugs.
Most of those in the system have an interest in minimizing an effort to clean this up. It is just more work they don’t want to do. Or it goes directly against their interest (drug companies that want to achieve favorable opinions by buying influence). The main political message in the USA for a couple decades has been to reduce regulation. Allowing research that is tainted because you find regulation politically undesirable is a bad idea. People that understand science and how complex medical research is appreciate this.
Sadly when we elect people that by and large are scientifically illiterate they don’t understand the risks of the dangerous practices they allow. Even if they were scientifically illiterate but understood their ignorance they could do a decent job by getting scientific consultation from experts but they don’t (to an extent they listen to the scientists that those that give them lots of money tell them to which does help make sure those giving the politicians cash have their interests served but it is not a good way to create policy with the necessary scientific thinking needed today).
Related: Problems with the Existing Funding System for Medical Research – Medical Study Integrity (or Lack Thereof) – Merck and Elsevier Publish Phony Peer-Review Journal – Anti-Science Politics – Stand with Science, Late is Better than Never
Solar Powered Water Jug to Purify Drinking Water
Posted on November 22, 2012 Comments (4)
Deepika Kurup, a 14-year-old New York student, won the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for her invention of a solar-powered water jug that changes dirty water into purified drinking water. She won the top prize of $25,000.
During “the 5 minutes of my presentation 15 children have died from lack of clean drinking water.”
I am thankful we have kids like this to create solutions for us that will make the world a better place. We rely on hundreds of thousands of such people to use science and engineering methods to benefit society.
Related: Strawjet: Invention of the Year – Cheap Drinking Water From Seawater – Water and Electricity for All – Thanksgiving, Appropriately (power of capitalism and people to provide long term increases in standards of living)