A bit late to the party, I just noticed - thanks to a tweet from Noah Gray, a senior editor at Nature in NYC - an interesting write-up that the New York Times carried a couple of weeks back. It talks about the somewhat meteoric rise of home labs, dabbling in science experiments, ably aided by the availability and use of relatively low-cost tools. [click to summary if you have a tldr; moment]
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
The spousal unit had to retire to the old country this week rather urgently - for a bit of administrative heckling (a.k.a. visa processing) and hopefully some much-needed R&R - of course, leaving me in the deep doldrums, alone and depressed on the long Christmas weekend. Thankfully, two dear friends of mine, SB-squared, decided to come over to Baltimore to ameliorate my misery. Muchas gracias, mi amigo y amiga!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
I am really in two minds as I write this.
This post was prompted by a news item on Teh Grauniad this morning, brought to my attention by that esteemed daily's twitterfeed. The title and the byline goes as:
Girl, nine, benefits from UK's first IVF 'saviour sibling' therapy
Doctors treat girl with rare blood disorder by transfusing healthy bone marrow from baby brother created at IVF clinic
Intrigued, I read through the report.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
An important maxim used in science, or more precisely, in the scientific study of relationships between/amongst variables, is that 'Correlation does not imply Causation'. Indeed, until and unless such causality has been verifiably established through independent means, any attempt to indicate that it does falls under the logical fallacy of questionable cause, cum hoc, ergo propter hoc (Latin for "with this, therefore because of this").
It is important for all to understand this concept - those who are engaged in scientific studies, as well as those who read about and interpret such studies.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I am tremendously psyched about this fascinating report published in Blood about a week back. The paper from this German multi-institutional group describes how, in an HIV-infected leukemic patient, transplantation with CCR5Δ32/Δ32 stem cells appeared to cure HIV. Even as I write this, I can barely contain my excitement; this finding has tremendous possibilities.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Original publishing date: Jun 11, 2010. Original Title: Of Affiliations and Conflicts...
Recently, through an unrelated chain of events, I came across the author guidelines (PDF) for the international journal of general medicine, The Lancet.
All of you are, of course, aware that The Lancet is a high impact factor journal with significant global readership of both of its off-line and online versions. The journal - no stranger to controversy - has come under severe criticism from the medical and scientific community, ever since it published the Wakefield article on Autism and the MMR vaccine in 1998. The conclusions and interpretation of this study were retracted by ten of the co-authors in 2004 (Murch et al., Lancet 363 (9411): 750), and the editor, Richard Horton, went on to explain that the retraction was due to "...revelations about conflicts of interests" (reported on The Beeb here). Wakefield was found to have been paid a large sum of money by lawyers trying to prove that the MMR vaccine was unsafe, and he did not declare this clear conflict of interest. The rest, as they say, is history. I needn't elaborate; you are aware of how Wakefield was censured for this non-disclosure, as well as for scientific and ethical misconducts.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
How many of you know what Pensées are? Raise your hands.
"Pensées" (literally, "thoughts") is a posthumously published collection of notes made by the renowned French Philosopher, Mathematician and Physicist, Blaise Pascal, during his final years as he worked on a treatise on Christian apologetics. These contain his infamous wager/gambit.
'Meh!' You say. Rightly so.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Following a few heated exchanges between us on Twitter, a journalist friend of mine has decided to put up a blogpost defending the ultimate accommodationist position: Why can't we all just make nice-nice and be happy together?
Okay, that was taking a bit of liberty (strictly tongue-in-cheek, of course!) in paraphrasing her position, but basically she is questioning the source of belief and the lack thereof. In particular, she is examining those beliefs that are not evidential/ material/ cogent in nature (Hmmm... Is there any other kind?)
She starts with a valid question:
How do we know these exist, if we choose not to believe that they exist?
Most unfortunately, she considers this as a rhetorical question, and therefore, comes up with a simplistic, outlandishly puerile, answer:
The answer to this is also simple: we know they exist and therefore we believe that they exist.
I can't even begin to describe the logical fallacies in this circular argument, that a seasoned journalist should never have committed IM(NS)HO. When did journalism stop being about fact-checking, objectivity, logical consistency, integrity of reportage and all that jazz? Sigh.