A Brushiness With Ogdenashiness

Posted 5 October 2015 by Kausik Datta

Frederick Ogden Nash (August 19, 1902 – May 19, 1971), often referred to simply as 'Ogden Nash', was an American poet with a signature style of whimsical light verses replete with puns, deliberate misspellings, strangely irregular meter, but always ending in rhymes. Having read Ogden Nash as a child, I always find his poems delightful and utterly enjoyable. I recently came to know that I have another connection to him; apparently, Ogden Nash, a New Yorker by birth, called Baltimore... Read more

ResearchGate, heal thyself… please?

Posted 21 September 2015 by Kausik Datta

People reading this blog (I sure hope someone reads it *bites nails*) may be familiar with the name ResearchGate. It was envisaged as a social networking site focused on scientists; founded in 2008 by Ijad Madisch and Sören Hofmayer, both physicians, and Horst Fickenscher, a computer scientist, the site's stated mission statement is: to connect researchers and make it easy for them to share and access scientific output, knowledge, and expertise. Although not unique (or the only player) in this field, ResearchGate offers several features... Read more

A Life Well Lived

Posted 31 August 2015 by Kausik Datta

The dénouement that was inevitable came to pass. I woke up yesterday to the sorrowful news that Professor Sacks, the neurologist and author extraordinaire, had passed away at the age of 82. Of the two obituaries in two leading dailies that I read one after the other, the NY Times Obit seemed more of a commemoration of his life's outstanding work, whereas the Guardian Obit seemed (to me) a celebration of his amazing life, but both were moving in their descriptions... Read more

Weird Lack of Proper Control in an Acupuncture Study Published in PLOS ONE

Posted 7 August 2015 by Kausik Datta

PLOS One seems to have done it again! I wrote a few days ago about how the peer review system at PLOS One seemed to give a free pass to acupuncture studies, when it came to seeking rigorous experimental evidence in support of the claims presented in the paper. I had shared the post via Twitter, and in response, someone from PLOS One had replied: @kausikdatta22 @scilogscom @gorskon @EpiRen Thanks for raising this. We have been looking into this study... Read more

Homeopathy – that “affordable”, “cost-saving” therapy? Not really, as the numbers say.

Posted 5 August 2015 by Kausik Datta

Classical homeopathy is scientifically implausible as a therapy, because there is no substance of any medicinal value left in the functionally-infinitely diluted nostrum. Naturally, there is no hard evidence supporting the therapeutic use of homeopathy, in terms of clinical benefit to the patient. Absent such support, homeopathy-peddlers generally push affordability and low cost as homeopathy's unique selling point (USP). A large retrospective cost-analysis study, based on nearly 45000 individual German patients, gives lie to that myth. In a paper published last week... Read more

Lax standards at PLOS One for peer review of CAM research papers?

Posted 30 July 2015 by Kausik Datta

Serious question: has the peer review system at the PLOS journals been doing a less-than-stellar job when it comes to evaluating complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) research for publication? If the answer is 'yes', why? Or if 'no', how does a paper like this go through PLOS ONE without some serious revisions? I refer to the systematic review and meta-analysis on effectiveness of acupuncture for essential hypertension, done by a group of researchers from the Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese... Read more

2015 John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science: nomination deadline fast approaching, August 20

Posted 28 July 2015 by Kausik Datta

A quick note today via a friend, Dr. Prateek Buch, the Policy Director of Evidence Matters. Do you know someone who has promoted sound science and evidence? Nominate them for the 2015 John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science. The John Maddox Prize rewards an individual who has promoted sound science and evidence on a matter of public interest. Its emphasis is on those who have faced difficulty or hostility in doing so. Do you know someone who stands... Read more

Vox Media Report On Pandemrix And Narcolepsy Misses A Key Highlight, Progress By Trial

Posted 28 July 2015 by Kausik Datta

I read with a great deal of interest a report on Vox by their science and health reporter Julia Belluz (@juliaoftoronto on Twitter) on the recently publicized story of Pandemrix, an H1N1 pandemic influenza (a.k.a. "Swine Flu") vaccine manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and the condition of narcolepsy (a debilitating sleep disorder) that affected a small fraction of individuals who received this vaccine. The facts of the story are not in dispute. During the 2009-10 Swine Flu pandemic in Europe, GSK's... Read more

Best Friend, Indeed

Posted 24 July 2015 by Kausik Datta

I love dogs. I grew up in households with dogs, and feel very comfortable around most dogs. And they seem to return the feeling. This has happened not only with familiar pets in the households of friends and family, but also with strange, unfamiliar dogs under otherwise trying circumstances. Through my childhood and young adulthood, I lived in an enclosed residential area which happened to serve as a sort of shelter for many random stray or abandoned, ill-nourished and emaciated street-dogs... Read more

With This Scholarly Work, I Thee Wed…?

Posted 4 June 2015 by Kausik Datta

Beyond the white-coat, serious, severe image of scientists accentuated by popular media, underneath it all scientists are human beings, with human emotions, frailties, capacities for excellence, and occasional flashes of effulgent brilliance. Thanks to Twitter, I came across one such example today, and it made me recognize that fact again, with a great deal of pleasure. Dr. Caleb M. Brown (@Brown_Caleb_M on Twitter) is a scientist at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Alberta, Canada, studying dinosaur paleobiology and evolution. His... Read more