Friday, March 17, 2006

Good science news
There's a bunch of interesting Science news in Science Magazine and NEJM this week.

First, truly wonderful, fantastic, kick-ass anti-corporation news as the Data Quality Act has been struck down by a federal court. From the article:

In May 2003, the Salt Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a DQA petition to obtain unpublished data from DASH-Sodium, a study funded partly by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) (Science, 30 May 2003, p. 1350). The study found that eating less salt lowered participants' blood pressure, and NHLBI has cited these findings in recommending that all Americans lower their salt intake. But DASH researchers had failed to break down the data for subgroups (such as white men under age 45 without hypertension), argued the industry group, which demanded that NHLBI release these data for independent analysis. After NHLBI rejected the request, the groups sued the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), NHLBI's parent agency.
In November 2004, a Virginia federal district court turned down the suit, a decision upheld on 6 March by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Alexandria, Virginia. The panel of three judges found that the DQA "does not create any legal right to information or its correctness," and for that reason, the plaintiffs lacked legal "standing" to pursue their case.

The DQA has been a terrible law, pointed out by many opposing the Republican War on Science as a evil tool to suppress public-interest government funded research by industries who profit from human misery. If this law had existed for the last 50 years, there still would be no publicly accepted health policy on cigarettes because Phillip-Morris would just challenge every governmental agency who studied it so no reports on the ill effects of tobacco would ever be known. Ding Dong the DQA is dead!

There is also an interesting article on the rapidly approaching $1000 genome. I'm rooting for 454 Life Sciences.

In geek science news there are new methods for generating artificial muscle fibers and tricorders. One day we will have robots, and tricorders, and robot tricorders. I promise.

Finally, a free full-text from NEJM on how black or white, rich or poor, our health care universally sucks. I would like to see a similar study done on other countries so we can finally put this "american medical care is the best in the world" shit to rest. So what if you can't get an MRI on demand in Canada, I'd rather have free primary care and preventative medicine! You'll need those things more than you'll ever need an MRI. Anyway, just another nail in the coffin of the free-market medical system that is rapidly draining the United States of all of it's money via entitlement programs.


Buck Mulligan said...

The DQA isn't bad. Liberals just haven't learned how to use it yet. I'm trying to...

11:08 AM, March 18, 2006

Anonymous said...

As a non-scientist, the DQA doesn't sound bad. Good guys hiding scientifically generated data from bad guys actually sounds anti-peer review. In this case, couldn’t the bad guys always run their own experiment and use that to contradict the DASH findings? That sounds equally bad as letting them find some pretext directly from the DASH data for saying DASH is bunk. If they’re going to say it’s bunk either way, is the point of not letting them see the whole study just a tactic for getting bad guys to waste their time/resources on their own studies?

Also, in the real history of the tricorder, Rensselaer’s new “double crystal fusion” device could “potentially lead to a portable, battery-operated neutron generator for a variety of applications, from non-destructive testing to detecting explosives and scanning luggage at airports.” Whoa. If they’re smart (and having invented a tabletop accelerator they seem to be) they’ll give the final device the tricorder sound effects.


12:59 PM, March 18, 2006

Rev. Dr. said...

Yeah, the DQA doesn't sound bad, in fact, it sounds like FOIA for science. The sad fact is that it is used by industry to suppress any kind of effective, science-informed policymaking.

8:54 AM, March 19, 2006


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