ABOUT Kausik Datta

Avatar of Kausik Datta

When not vociferously debunking pseudoscience of various stripes, I have been known to count host immunity, host-pathogen interactions and pathogenesis of infectious disease caused by two mycopathogens, Aspergillus spp., and Cryptococcus spp., as well as general science communication, amongst my interests. My views, of course, are absolutely and irrevocably my own.


Kausik Datta: All Posts


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

Authors of PLOS One Study on Benefits of Electro-Acupuncture Answer My Questions

Posted 4 May 2015 by Kausik Datta

Early last month, I communicated in a blog post a few questions I had about a study in Electro Acupuncture published in PLOS One. It took the authors a while to get to them, but the senior and corresponding author of that study, Professor Kai-Liang Wu, of the Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, graciously wrote a detailed reply to my question a week ago. I am going to put his response in this space in blocks. For better comprehension, I shall... Read more

Questions for Authors of Study on Benefits of Electro-Acupuncture After Brain Radiotherapy

Posted 8 April 2015 by Kausik Datta

The April 1 issue (-giggle-) of PLOS ONE published an article on the alternative medicine modality of electro-acupuncture (EA) by a group of investigators from Shanghai, China (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0122087). The basic premises of the study are sound: Certain types of brain tumors require radiation therapy or 'radiotherapy' as a treatment option; this therapy uses high-energy radiation beams to destroy the cancerous cells in a targeted manner. However, even in case of successful tumor radiotherapy, some normal brain tissue may also... Read more

In Its Endlessness Life Abounds

Posted 13 March 2015 by Kausik Datta

The past one year has been rough - what with the deaths of a few close family members. Just as I am slowly settling into 2015, in quick succession come three harsh blows from life: first, that poignant announcement from Prof. Oliver Sachs, next, the untimely death of a beloved mentor and friend, Prof. Paula Pitha-Rowe, and now, the sudden passing of my ever-the-most-favorite author, Sir Terry Pratchett. One by one, my favorite people are leaving me, and I don't... Read more

“Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?” Live forever in our hearts, PTerry

Posted 12 March 2015 by Kausik Datta

One by one, the luminous lights are being extinguished. A stark reminder yet again, that life is fragile, ephemeral, fickle. One of my most-favorite-ever of authors passed away today. Goodbye, and rest in peace, Sir Terry Pratchett. You have given me the gifts of laughter and a deeper understanding of life. Thank you for everything. You shall live forever in our hearts and minds. The following is a screenshot from the only official announcement (from the Publishers) that I could... Read more

Rest In Peace, Professor Pitha-Rowe, Scientist, Mentor

Posted 12 March 2015 by Kausik Datta

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. I recently learned the terrible news that we have lost a distinguished scientist, Dr. Paula Marie Pitha-Rowe, Professor of Oncology, Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Johns Hopkins University Department of Biology and the School of Medicine. She was also, until recently, my wife Sujayita's postdoctoral research mentor, and an immensely knowledgeable, well-informed, fun and compassionate person. She was a sprightly 77. The Mentor and Friend My connection to Paula... Read more

A Life Well-lived With Love, Compassion, Joy Reaches Denouement

Posted 20 February 2015 by Kausik Datta

Fuck cancer. Seriously. We keep losing immense numbers of good people to it; I have lost close friends and family members to it. And yesterday, I was aghast to learn that one of my most favorite scientist/authors, Professor Oliver Sacks, has fallen a prey to this scourge. As he announced yesterday in a New York Times Op-Ed: ... a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. Nine years ago it was discovered that I... Read more

Inflammation, Acupuncture, and HPA axis: Faulty Science Clouds Understanding

Posted 18 February 2015 by Kausik Datta

In the wake of my recent critique of acupuncture being touted as a remedy for allergic rhinitis, I was pointed (via a Twitter comment) towards a 2013 review in Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which purported to propose a mechanism for the much-claimed anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture. There are several putative mechanisms, discussing all of which will make this post gargantuan. Therefore, I shall focus on the explanation involving the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The review, by a group of... Read more

Sniffles, Sneezes, Itches, Boo-boo: What Can The Needles Do?

Posted 11 February 2015 by Kausik Datta

Nasal allergies (a.k.a. Allergic Rhinitis, or hay fever) represent a frequent allergic disorder that reduces the sufferer’s quality of life, and has harsh economic implications in terms of healthcare costs and social productivity. A 2003 retrospective study from Germany estimated that average annual cost of season allergic rhinitis was approximately €1,089 per child/adolescent and €1,543 per adult, considering direct medical and nonmedical costs. (Note: €1 = US $1.0503, on January 1, 2003, the day this study was published.) During the... Read more

About Ethics In Science News Journalism And Editorial Practices

Posted 6 February 2015 by Kausik Datta

Media and communication professionals, including those in the news business, understand the power and value of visual communication. The old adage, "A picture is worth a thousand words", has never been truer than it is now, what with the nearly ubiquitous use of imagery and iconography – both moving and still – to communicate information via printed material, digital screens, and even the built environment. This phenomenon is outside my area of expertise (so I wouldn’t hold forth more on... Read more