Finally someone understands me

This is an accurate depiction of what is happening in my head when I see this commercial.

And you know, this idea that applying an analgesic to your forehead is just about the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. Your forehead and your brain are separated by a thing called your skull, and they’re even on different branches of the carotid artery. Headaches do not occur on your forehead, even if that’s where you feel the pain referred.

WSJ and anti-government conspiracies

Leave it to AEI writing for the WSJ editorial page to allege a grand conspiracy of the government against pharmaceutical companies. Their proof? The government wants to compare the efficacy of new drugs to older ones to make sure they’re actually better.

The reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (Schip), created in 1997 to cover children from lower-income families who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, is up for renewal this fall. Tucked into page 414, section 904 of the House bill is a provision to spend more than $300 million to establish a new federal “Center for Comparative Effectiveness” to conduct government-run studies of the economic considerations that go into drug choices.

The center will initially be funded through Medicare but will soon get its own “trust fund.” The aim is to arm government actuaries with data that proponents hope will provide “scientific” proof that expensive new drugs are no better than their older alternatives. The trick is to maintain just enough credibility around the conduct of these trials to justify unpopular decisions not to pay for newer medicines.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this sort of fiscally minded clinical research, Medicare is no ordinary payer: It dictates decisions made in the private market. So as the government begins tying its own payment decisions to the results of its own studies, there’s a great temptation to selectively interpret data and arbitrarily release results. Clearly, this obvious conflict of interest demands even more outside scrutiny and transparency than has been the usual fare when it comes to government research.

Yes, because private research is so much more transparent than studies performed by the government. Gottlieb’s example of a government hit on expensive drugs, was of all things, the Women’s Health Initiative.

More insane conspiratorial nonsense from AEI and the WSJ below the fold.
Continue reading “WSJ and anti-government conspiracies”

Accidental Honesty from UD

Granville Sewell describes the UD approach to science – in a word, quit early.

In any debate on Intelligent Design, there is a question I have long wished to see posed to ID opponents: “If we DID discover some biological feature that was irreducibly complex, to your satisfication and to the satisfaction of all reasonable observers, would that justify the design inference?” (Of course, I believe we have found thousands of such features, but never mind that.)

If the answer is yes, we just haven’t found any such thing yet, then all the constantly-repeated philosophical arguments that “ID is not science” immediately fall. If the answer is no, then at least the lay observer will be able to understand what is going on here, that Darwinism is not grounded on empirical evidence but a philosophy.

The actual answer is that this is an idiotic question and exposes the fundamental misconceptions that IDers have about science. In fact, I think this is one of their most accidentally-honest posts yet.

In science, if a problem emerges that we don’t have the technology or tools to understand we don’t throw our hands up in the air and say “god did it”. Historically this tactic is always premature.

You want proof ID isn’t a science? There are few better examples this Sewell’s post.

Also note Factition’s take on this very post.

We refer to this in science as an answer that is uninformative. Sure, you’ve failed to divide something further, but what does that mean? That’s why “irreducible complexity” isn’t really a useful metric, and if the intelligent design movement is truly serious about science, they will abandon this metric as a measure of whether or not something is designed.

You can’t base the test of your hypothesis on an uninformative answer. Just like I can’t base my understanding of bacteria based on my failure to find a particular bacterium. You have to base science on positive outcomes (otherwise known as informative outcomes).

Damn right.

TJ fans check out Brayton’s blog

Ed Brayton’s discussion of the historical validity of claims of Thomas Jefferson’s support of a “Christian Nation” is illuminating.

Turns out, it’s a myth. A story passed down third-hand to a pair of people who were under 10 years old when it happened (and substantial cause to misremember), and inconsistent with Jefferson’s writings and known activities.

Further, the cherry-picking to suggest he attended services in Capitol each Sabbath day is downright hysterical. Read it, it’s golden.

Cato is shocked, shocked! To find wait times for care in the US.

The NYT reports on the differing wait times between high-cost cosmetic procedures in dermatology, and low-cost potentially life-saving screenings for melanoma and other skin cancers.

Patients seeking an appointment with a dermatologist to ask about a potentially cancerous mole have to wait substantially longer than those seeking Botox for wrinkles, says a study published online today by The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Researchers reported that dermatologists in 12 cities offered a typical wait of eight days for a cosmetic patient wanting Botox to smooth wrinkles, compared to a typical wait of 26 days for a patient requesting evaluation of a changing mole, a possible indicator of skin cancer.

Dr. Michael J. Franzblau, a dermatologist in San Francisco, said doctors typically charged $400 to $600 for a Botox antiwrinkle treatment, for which patients pay upfront because insurance does not cover it.

Meanwhile, doctors have to wait for health insurance to reimburse them for mole examinations, for which they receive an average of $50 to $75, Dr. Franzblau said.

What’s then great is to see the “market solves all problems” types at Cato try to wrap their heads around this astonishing instance in which the market doesn’t provide good for all and cute dancing little elves.

With regard to Medicaid, it’s easy to see what’s interfering with the price mechanism: Medicaid prices are set by state governments, and so they don’t change to eliminate shortages (i.e., waits) the way market prices might. The same is largely true of private coverage: those prices are set by insurers, who mostly just track the prices that the federal government sets through the Medicare program

But then why would there still be shortages for patients who come with cash in hand? The price mechanism seems to be working for cash-paying Botox patients, but not for cash-paying ambulatory clinic patients. One possibility is that there might be spillover effects that affect cash-payers in markets dominated by third-party payment and rigid prices. But then wouldn’t we see cash-only ambulatory clinics emerge to capture those customers? If not, that suggested supply constraints to Peter and me.

Oh yeah, it must be the influence of medicare to blame! If it weren’t for the bad influence of those dirty socialists the private insurers would be reimbursing preventative care with gold dubloons!

Or, maybe, just maybe, the market doesn’t provide goods equally between between socioeconomic strata. Maybe, just maybe, people who can afford 600 dollar botox injections receive faster more prompt care than the average schmo looking to figure out what some growth is. Maybe this is a sign that the profit-motive in medicine leads to shortages of care for more important needs and poorer patients as the profitable low-hanging fruit will always be more appealing than dealing with insurance companies and the average peons off the street who may not be able to pay their medical bills.

Cato can blame “markets dominated by third-party payment and rigid prices”, and there is some truth to that, but the bigger problem is that fighting with insurance companies for reimbursement with their “mommy may I” and 10% routine rejection policies is a hassle. It’s just easier to take rich people who want botox injected into their face than practice the routine preventative care that is critical for keeping healthcare costs down. It’s a sign that our medical priorities are screwed up, the private insurance based system is not providing adequate care, and the right type of medicine is being discouraged. It’s also ironic that as much as Cato complains about wait times in Canada (wait times for “emergency” cataract surgery – oh noes!), they aren’t nearly as quick to judge a market systems critical flaws as those of a socialized one.

Ben Stein read the HOWTO

Reading You Are Dumb’s take on Ben Stein and expelled, I found out they have a blog for the movie! I’m so excited, because it’s clear that Ben Stein, in his introductory post, shows he’s done his research and read the Crank HOWTO. Check it:

Some of the greatest scientists of all time, including Galileo, Newton, Einstein, operated under the hypothesis that their work was to understand the principles and phenomena as designed by a creator.

Really? Their hypotheses included God each time? That’s shocking. Continued.

Operating under that hypothesis, they discovered the most important laws of motion, gravity, thermodynamics, relativity, and even economics.

Now, I am sorry to say, freedom of inquiry in science is being suppressed.

Under a new anti-religious dogmatism, scientists and educators are not allowed to even think thoughts that involve an intelligent creator. Do you realize that some of the leading lights of “anti-intelligent design” would not allow a scientist who merely believed in the possibility of an intelligent designer/creator to work for him… EVEN IF HE NEVER MENTIONED the possibility of intelligent design in the universe?EVEN FOR HIS VERY THOUGHTS… HE WOULD BE BANNED.

Darwin mind-reading! We are powerful evilutionists after all, why wouldn’t we have mind-reading technology? But what a great example of crank persecution!

In today’s world, at least in America, an Einstein or a Newton or a Galileo would probably not be allowed to receive grants to study or to publish his research.

They cannot even mention the possibility that-as Newton or Galileo believed-these laws were created by God or a higher being. They could get fired, lose tenure, have their grants cut off. This can happen. It has happened. EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed comes to theaters near you in February 2008. To learn more, check out my blog here often … and explore the rest of our site for new developments, or to volunteer to help spread the word.

And there we have it! A Galileo reference, perfect. I’m not sure why they think Newton is helpful for the crank. Newton, if anything, was an evil bastard who would attack anyone who was seen as a threat to his supremacy. But either way, great first blog post Ben. You’ve done your research and you’re going to fit right in with all the other cranks.

Mike Adams branches out into TB denial?

In a scathing attack on what he calls “gunpoint medicine”, Mike Adams attacks the medical establishment for their supposed ability to imprison patients, force treatments on people against their will and generally be very very evil.

Health officials in Lawrenceville, Georgia have arrested and jailed Francisco Santos, a teenager who tried to walk out of a hospital and go home after being diagnosed with TB (tuberculosis). Instead of allowing him to leave the hospital, health authorities arrested and jailed the teen, throwing him in into a 15 x 20 foot isolation chamber and not allowing him to leave until he submitted to chemical treatments pushed by doctors at the hospital. Francisco is being described as “…a threat to public safety” due to his tuberculosis.

Francisco’s plight is the latest episode in a growing number of “gunpoint medicine” episodes where individuals are being arrested at gunpoint and thrown into jails or detainment centers until they submit to treatment with pharmaceuticals, chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.

His recommendation? Don’t see a doctor!

As these cases of Gunpoint Medicine clearly demonstrate, you now surrender your rights when you walk into a hospital. You are not a patient; you are a prisoner. And if the medical authorities, in their own opinion, perceive you as resisting their authority, they can have you arrested on the spot, without a court order, without a trial, and even when you pose no threat to others (such as having cancer). These medical arrests are taking place in clear violation of both the Fourth Amendment (protection from unreasonable search and seizure) and Fifth Amendment (due process) of the U.S. Bill of Rights.

More crankery below the fold.

Continue reading “Mike Adams branches out into TB denial?”

Senator Craig – I apologize in advance

Ok, I can’t resist. What do people think of Larry Craig’s arrest for ostensibly soliciting sex in a men’s room? He’s denying he did anything wrong.

Tuesday, in his first public statement on the arrest, the Idaho Republican said he did nothing “inappropriate.”

“Let me be clear: I am not gay and never have been,” said Craig, who has aligned himself with conservative groups who oppose gay rights.

However, I don’t think he has plausible deniability here. From the police account:

A police officer who arrested him June 11 said Craig peered through a crack in a restroom stall door for two minutes and made gestures suggesting to the officer he wanted to engage in “lewd conduct.”

Craig’s blue eyes were clearly visible through the crack in the door, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport police Sgt. Dave Karsnia wrote in the report he filed.

“Craig would look down at his hands, ‘fidget’ with his fingers, and then look through the crack into my stall again,” Karsnia wrote in documents accompanying the arrest report.

Craig said the officer misinterpreted his actions.

Misinterpreted? Maybe Craig was hoping Karsnia could “spare a square”?

It gets worse when you hear about what he might have been up to in 1982.

Continue reading “Senator Craig – I apologize in advance”