Science & Society

In the past, we have seen how much it would cost to replace a housewife and how much it cost to raise a child.

What about a child with special needs?  A recent literature review of U.S. and U.K. studies on patients with autism spectrum disorders and their families in 2013 came up with the economic impact. 

Autism used to be rather specific but the modern range of autism spectrum disorders is really broad, so Ariane V.S. Buescher, M.Sc., of the London School of Economics and Political Science, and colleagues separate those with intellectual disabilities and those with just behavioral issues.

It's not surprising that in a trial, mothers participating in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) who received subsidized vouchers for fruits and vegetables at area farmers markets used them - and chose fruits or vegetables more often then they would at supermarkets. 

But prices at local supermarkets are lower, notes a new University of Illinois study, so the question becomes how much should taxpayers spend in hopes that families will eat more vegetables, if they don't buy them at supermarkets. Should we mandate their behavior by giving them vouchers for farmer's markets rather than grocery stores?
An analysis of the scientific production of more than 80 countries from 1996 to 2006 found that there are three major ‘clusters’ of countries, defined by the thematic areas they investigate and that their governments invest in most.

Using this data, researchers from the University of Granada and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), belonging to the SCImago research group have designed the most comprehensive 'world map of research' to date. Using statistical techniques and multivariate analysis, they included over 15 million documents and scientific articles.
Liberal critics have always panned 1965's "The Sound of Music" as conservative and schmaltzy, a throwback to the 1950s during a decade that claimed to be about revolution and progress.

Yet the public loves it. 

London academic Martin Gorsky has an explanation that critics seem to have missed: the film actually ‘helped constitute’ an understanding of society.

Gorsky explains that the film’s treatment of two contemporary issues - the importance of play and emotion in childrearing, and post-war perspectives of Fascism – were fundamental to the widespread popularity of the film.

Starting in July of 2012, smart people called the election of November for President Barack Obama, barring some nasty "October Surprise." Instead, the October Surprise was for the challenger, Mitt Romney. A hurricane hit the eastern coast of the US and by the time it reached the American media center of New York City, it was no longer a hurricane so they created a new category, a "superstorm" and proceeded to blame it on global warming.


In a letter to the Annals of Internal Medicine, a group of nutritionists object to all of the studies finding supplements are well-marketed but unnecessary costs for most Americans.  

Their rebuttal: they don't harm anyone, they are relatively cheap and science can't prove they don't work. 

Hardly a great endorsement, but the nutritionists from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University and three other institutions can't really argue for the benefits of supplements, so they instead argue that the case is not 'closed', as an editorial in the same publication last year argued. 


Cosmos, hosted by Science 2.0 fave Dr. Neil Tyson, is wrapping up and it seems to have found its niche.

Its 3,450,000 viewers yesterday is way down from its debut but it is nowhere near the crash-and-burn Seth MacFarlane has just experienced with A Million Ways to Die in the West. The good news is that, like with his western comedy, Cosmos did not have a high budget and people who stuck it out this long are going to buy the DVDs - but it has already made a lot of money.
A recent analysis of voting trends of physicians has found that political contributions have gone up a lot and more of them have become Democrats; no surprise given Democratic efforts to increase federal presence in medicine.

The percentage of physicians making campaign contributions in federal elections increased to 9.4 percent in 2012 from 2.6 percent in 1991, and during that time physician contributors shifted away from Republicans toward Democrats. That trend was greater among lower paying specialties, such as pediatrics, and among women. 

If you want to survive your hospital stay, try to avoid being admitted on the weekend. 

A systematic review and meta-analysis
of various world regions that included 72 studies and 55,053,719 participants found that weekend admission was associated with increased morality of between 15% and 17% depending on the statistical technique used. 

It must be due to higher emergency status if it is the weekend, right? Some, but the authors say the quality of care is just poorer also, which is not going to make nurses and doctors who work weekends very happy.