Science & Society

The IRS and the Recording Industry Association of America share one thing in common; if they ever actually collected all of the estimated money they claim they are owed, they could buy a small country with it. With the RIAA, they always made piracy projections under the assumption that every illegal download imaginable was a lost sale and the IRS believes every business and resident exists to fund their coffers. 


Depending on how a topic is framed, people quickly change their minds when the discussion is about medical liability. If the scenario is presented as 'Doctor X was incompetent and did Y' the perception is that incompetent people should have to pay but when the scenario is presented as unlimited lawsuits crippling health care, people feel like we need tort reform.

Most people believe that malpractice insurance is the biggest problem after infrastructure costs and employees, but that isn't so; the biggest cost that gets passed on to consumers and health insurance carriers is defensive medicine - running every possible test and covering unnecessary bases so if anything ever goes wrong, a lawyer will not win a lawsuit claiming they are careless.


If religiously-motivated terrorists attack, they may claim it is an Act of God. You had better hope your insurance company does not. To insurance companies, an act of God is any event not influenced by man and minimum coverage often does not include it.

Because of the fuzzy nature of those definitions, there is specific terrorism insurance. But after Muslim fundamentalists hijacked and crashed planes on Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism risk insurance quickly became very expensive or unavailable. Congress reacted by passing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which provides an assurance of government support after a catastrophic attack. This kept terrorism risk insurance cheaper for businesses without crippling insurers.

Want to find the flaws in a study? Ask a competitor, just like you would ask a competitor about the flaws in an iPhone or any other product.

And if you really want to see griping about the flaws in a study, ask someone who happens to believe just the opposite. 

When a paper comes out that uses the exact same terminology as studies that advocates happen to like, conservative scientific verbage like using the word "possible" is touted as a weakness and they will insist there is no "clear" correlation. When culturally contradictory papers are published, we are told cross-sectional studies can't tell us anything at all about causality, exactly the opposite of what we read about papers confirming a position.

Global health funding hit an all-time high of $31.3 billion in 2013, five times greater than in 1990, but its 3.9% growth from 2012 to 2013 shows it is at least slowing down a little, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Health Affairs.

As funding from many bilateral donors and development banks has declined, growth in funding from the GAVI Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, non-governmental organizations, and the UK government is counteracting these cuts.

Global health funding remains small relative to what high-income countries spend on their own health, representing only 1% of these countries' health expenditure.


The mandate for health insurance isn't just raising the costs for the health care of almost all Americans,  it will also alter costs for several major types of liability insurance, according to a new RAND Corporation report.

Automobile, workers' compensation and general business liability insurance costs may fall under the Affordable Care Act, while costs for medical malpractice coverage could be higher, according to the study.

Researchers say the changes could be as much as 5 percent of costs in some states, but caution there is considerable uncertainty surrounding such estimates. The findings are from one of the first systematic studies of how the Affordable Care Act could influence costs for liability and related lines of insurance.


Scholars from the University of Pittsburgh and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center are associating binge drinking in both adults and teens with liking, owning and identifying a certain kind of music.

The weak observational results are published in Alcoholism: Clinical&Experimental Research and are certain to cause a buzz in mainstream media because the finding is based on a national randomized survey of over 2,541 people ages 15 to 23 and says that musicians who make alcohol brand references in popular music are to blame if kids get drunk.


Want to turn a liberal into a conservative? Present the prospect of a racial minority becoming the overall majority in the United States, according to an analysis of Pew Research data.

White Americans across the spectrum move more toward the conservative end of the political spectrum, according to a paper in Psychological Science which suggests that increased diversity in the United States could actually lead to a wider partisan divide. Of course, it depends on the minority. Legal immigrant minorities are overwhelmingly more conservative already.


This is a TV show which will be more appreciated in ten to twenty years than it is now.   The nation may not be as ready as we would like to hear this content from any host much less one like Dr. Niel D. Tyson. "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" has settled at a two week plateau in the ratings on Fox where it has a respectable 4.01 million viewers.  For a documentary on network TV up against pure entertainment programs that is pretty good.
What makes a good blood donor? A willingness to welcome anyone who enters the room, it seems, and names like Don Juan, Napoleon, Gucci, Azur, and Marissa don't hurt either.

“I chose them for their hematological characteristics, but also for their good disposition. We didn’t want cats that would be stressed when handled or that needed excessive sedation,” said Dr. Marie-Claude Blais, Professor at the University of Montreal’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.