Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pushing the Product

Denice Walter commented over at Respectful Insolence:
For years my SO has brought me a local new agey magazine ( actually, it's 75% advert and 25% "info-tisement"- i.e. articles promoting woo or practitioners), called "Inner Realm".

And it got me thinking:

In science, there is a LOT of literature devoted to basic research with no guarantee of a product on the horizon. You have to learn how to crawl before you make promises about your Running Man delivery service. Science isn't like Sid Meier's Civilization. You can't make plans to build a cavalry unit on the expectation that you'll finish research on Horseback Riding in 4 turns. In the real world, we don't know what fruits our research will bear, or even if it will bear anything. Every idea has to be extensively tested to see if it can be used effectively and practically.

This is especially true of medicine. Just because a drug works on a petri dish doesn't mean that it'll perform the same in a living body. It could be neutralized by some normal body process that doesn't occur in the cell culture. It could be absorbed by some filter before it gets to where it needs to go. It could have an unexpected side effect on another part of the body. That's why we demand so many tests before we unleash it on the market, and why we cringe whenever some newspaper cries "Cure!" over and over for everything that shows the slightest bit of promise.

In contrast, quackery seems obsessed with getting a product out as soon as they can. Instead of performing all the extensive tests we demand of any new treatment idea, they push directly to the market, as if their customers were their own guinea pigs. They get an idea and move right to human trials without bothering to keep extensive records. They get antsy whenever we ask basic research questions or show concern for the consumers: The same checks and balances we're in favor of using against "Big Pharma" in the form of watchdog institutions.

And they typically accuse us of being pro-corporate.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Tabloid Facepalm

Just a small post, hopefully to help me get back into the swing of blogging. I used to strive to average at least a post a day. Anyway, onto an observation:

Yesterday, when I was buying some Dr Pepper bottles I saw a tabloid at the checkout line (I think it was National Enquirer or something like that) with the fake Kenyan Obama birth certificate on the front page. It's bad enough that printed media was writing an article on that hoax, presumably without any reference to the myriad deliberate anachronisms, but it's just sad that they were reacting as if they had just now read about it on their Twitter feed.

...Sounds like what I've seen of Glenn Beck, actually.