ABOUT Kausik Datta

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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


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

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