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January 18, 2011

If you've ever wondered why social science research doesn't make enough of a difference

A&E cable channel premiered a new reality show "Beyond Scared Straight," which follows scared straight participants in three states. On one side of the national scared straight debate are federal officials, juvenile justice researchers and advocates, who say the strategy has been proven time and again to be ineffective. On the other side is Arnold Shapiro, a television producer, who told Youth Today that he favors his own common sense about the programs he profiles over any research about scared straight programs, even though he hasn't read any of it.

Thanks Youth Today

January 09, 2011


"Space and dinosaurs are the two things that turn kids on more than anything else. If we could grow dinosaurs on the space station we'd have this thing nailed."

Mark Uhran, NASA

Sorry the quote's behind a paywall but hey folks- it's AAAS, many of you should be members anyway.

Viruses, bacteria and me: A short rant

I hope you all had a happy holiday, that the new year is treating you well and that you did not catch that virus that felled my whole family, starting on Christmas and still has, an albeit dimensioning, hold. And now you know why there hasn't been a lot of action on FairerScience lately.

This seemed like a good time to remind everyone that ANTIBIOTICS DON'T WORK ON VIRUSES. Really! Indeed the Center for Disease Control has a whole series "Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work."

It points out:

Antibiotics cure bacterial infections, not viral infections such as:
* Colds or flu;
* Most coughs and bronchitis;
* Sore throats not caused by strep; or
* Runny noses.

They even have a video for doctors; "Don't Give In and Give Those Antibiotics!." It gives doctors tips to resist patient pressure to be given antibiotics. It's actually quite good. I laughed at the idea of writing a "prescription" for over the counter products so the patient doesn't leave the office empty handed. Then I got really depressed because there are so many doctors who don't feel comfortable saying "No I'm not going to give you antibiotics because you don't need them and they won't work." that the CDC felt it was necessary to make the video.

So why did this seem to be a good time to write such a post? Well because I 'm on antibiotics (I added a secondary bacterial infection to the mix) but I'm not on the antibiotic that my doctor wanted. Why? BECAUSE THERE ISN'T ANY LEFT in the Boston area. Why? Because we've done a rotten job helping people understand what antibiotics do and don't do and because too many doctors will just give the prescription to make patients happy.