SHREVEPORT – As a high-school English teacher I have long struggled with the distraction of cell phones in the classroom.  I know many teachers who have struggled with this issue and have found various ways to deal with it – most often simply incorporating that technology as an instructional tool.  I’ve seen “Cell Phone Jail” jars and boxes on Pinterest and I’ve seen hanging shoe storage pockets used as charging stations, where the student can drop his phone in the pocket and leave it to charge all class period.

None of these have worked for me.  The allure of that incoming text message or SnapChat photo is too powerful to ignore and invariably the student will check the phone, thus turning his attention away from instruction.

I was commiserating with another teacher about this one day in an attempt to find out what my colleagues do about this issue when someone suggested I read A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel. The book came out in 2014 but is based on the author’s 2010 Pulitzer Prize winning series for the New York Times. The book tells the story of a teenager who caused an accident while texting and driving which resulted in the death of two rocket scientists.  It’s a compelling read and filled with the science to support the author’s thesis which is basically that cell phone technology has insinuated itself into our most basic instinct to pay attention in order to survive, except now we are paying attention to the incoming text message or email rather than the more important tasks at hand, like perhaps driving.

This is especially true for the younger generation – those who have grown up with this technology in their hands their entire lives.

Richtel cites science that explains how the phone works sort of like an immediate gratification system and that positive reward releases dopamine in the brain each time you use the device:

“…You hear the ping of an incoming text or call, you respond; the ping happens, you respond.  And each time you respond, you get a hit of dopamine. It’s a pleasurable feeling, a release from the reward center. Then it’s gone. There is no incoming text, no stimulation. You start to feel bored. You crave another hit.”

The result is now we have a generation of kids who find it “hard to sustain periods of attention” and who “are less tolerant of waiting for delays.”  Most telling to me, and what I see in my classroom is Richtel’s point that “Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task, but for jumping to the next thing.”

So while this book is a fascinating read and does help me understand a great deal about how the brain works and how addicted we are to our devices, it still doesn’t tell me how to manage this issue in my classroom.

I had a conversation with a student one day recently along these same lines. We had been reading Macbeth and she was amazed that an actor could memorize so many lines of Shakespearean dialogue in order to perform on stage. I pointed out that it seems that our brains have evolved over time to adapt to our changing society; once traveling scops could recite 3,000 lines of Beowulf but you might be hard pressed to do that these days. And when I explained to her how we had to do research papers without internet and without computers (remember the old Reader’s Guide?) she was astounded and shook her head in disbelief. And then her phone vibrated and her eyes dropped to the screen to see who was messaging her. End of conversation.

Since I’ve been reading Richtel’s book, I’m much more conscious of my own cell phone tendencies. I even laughed at the irony of my stopping reading long enough to message the friend who had recommended the book to me.

As I said, I still have not found a classroom management strategy that will work in my room as far as the phone issue goes, but I think I’m getting closer to it by having read this book. At least now I understand that it’s a much bigger problem than I realized.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

12th Doctor: Evolution perfects survival skills.

Doctor Who  Hide 2013

Of the delights of this world, man cares most for sexual intercourse. He will go to any length for it-risk fortune, character, reputation, life itself

Mark Twain

In short men.  It’s been a long fight but the sexual revolution is over…

….We WON!

DaTechGuy The final victory in the Sexual Revolution 2013

I know I’ve written about this before but after seeing this post at Robert Stacy McCain’s Site Titled  Heterosexuality Is the Structure That Keeps Sexist Oppression in Place’

containing this quote

The student quotes from “Separating Lesbian Theory From Feminist Theory,” an essay by Cheshire Calhoun in the textbook, where she says that “from a feminist perspective, sexual interaction, romantic love, marriage, and the family are all danger zones,” being patriarchal institutions that “serve male interests.”

I think it’s time to reacquaint people with some science:

One of the fallacies of some of our atheist friends is the idea that Christianity categorically rejects evolution and or natural selection.  In fact while some Christian sects do the Catholic church does not to wit

Concerning human evolution, the Church has a more definite teaching. It allows for the possibility that man’s body developed from previous biological forms, under God’s guidance, but it insists on the special creation of his soul. Pope Pius XII declared that “the teaching authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions . . . take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—[but] the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God” (Pius XII, Humani Generis 36). So whether the human body was specially created or developed, we are required to hold as a matter of Catholic faith that the human soul is specially created; it did not evolve, and it is not inherited from our parents, as our bodies are. 

In fact I’ve already argued that the belief in pure evolution (fin into hand) is so mathematically improbable that said belief in that kind of evolution demands a belief in God but let’s consider the less radical and more biologically sound principle of natural selection, that is that nature rewards attributes that increase the chances of the survival of a species.

And survival of a species requires, wait for it, reproduction!

Or as Stacy McCain once put it when trying to explain the character of Jane in the Tarzan movies:

And here’s a little secret: Nice Christian girls get horny, too.

We are not supposed to know this, and certainly it is considered inappropriate for a nice Christian girl ever to admit this secret. Still, the Creator who made them male and female did not make them so unequal that the female is without sexual desire. The comparative roles played by nature and nuture in female sexuality have been furiously debated and endlessly researched. Some say that Western civilization, particularly Christianity, has misunderstood women’s sexuality, misrepresented it both in science and in popular culture, and misled women in the attitudes toward sex that they are taught and encouraged to emulate. Be that as it may, however, nature must ultimately triumph, and the creation is a tribute to her Creator, so that her mind and body are attuned to respond — as a matter of autonomic reflex — to her biological destiny. This response is influenced by her upbringing and experiences, by her education and the culture that surrounds her, yet no amount of Victorian prudery could have utterly thwarted Jane’s sexual nature.

Put simply it doesn’t matter if you believe in a creator or in a Darwin, natural selection rewards traits that ensure the survival of a species and thus as a rule men find woman desirable and women as a rule like the idea.

So if you are a believer that heterosexuality is a social construct, what are you saying?  You’re saying that alone among the species the human race did NOT evolve in such a way that encourages reproduction.

And they say belief in God requires faith.

Closing thought #1  The irony here?  Most of these same people who reject natural selection’s role in the human sex drive reject christianity.

Closing thought #2  Stacy McCain constantly refers to feminism as a death cult. The fact that he has six children who are already having children to Amanda Marcotte’s 0  proves it more,  as I said years ago

There are 9 women on her enemies list, of the 9 I could only find information concerning children for four of them.

According to IMDB Ann Marie Murrell has one child, Morgan Brittany 2. and from the Politichicks site we see Dr. Gina Loudon has 5 meanwhile the oldest person on her list Phyllis Schlafly (age 90) has, according to Wikipedia six children.

That’s a 14-0 ratio and at 26 Lila Rose hasn’t even got started yet.

So while Amanda Marcotte and feminists like Sally Miller Gearhart willingly continue down a biological dead end , their enemies are fruitful and multiplying.

Put simply the future belongs to those who show up and embracing modern feminism is a Darwin Award just waiting to happen even if it didn’t mean piling on crushing amounts of college debt for no discernible job skills.

Update: Part of a sentence is missing, fixed

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Dr. Leo Brewster: We used to tell people, eat this and you’ll live to be 100. Now it’s a death chart.

Empty Next The Mentor 1991

Capt. Picard: A good scientist doesn’t function by conjecture.

Meribor: A good scientist functions by hypothesizing and then proving or disproving that hypothesis.

Star Trek TNG  The Inner Light 1992

This has been a bad week for the “Settled Science crowd”.

First there was the anniversary of the NYT statement about the end of snow just as liberal Boston was breaking every snow record in the book

After setting a seven-day snow record last week, Boston had 22 inches of fresh snow, and the storm was forecast to last into Tuesday in some areas. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency, clearing the way for him to request snow-removal help from neighboring states.

Then there were the new revelations of altered climate data:

One of the areas that Homewood has looked at is Paraguay. In a post titled All of Paraguay’s temperature record has been tampered with, he found that GISS has systematically altered temperature records to make the past look cooler and the present warmer, and to create an entirely fictitious warming trend.

To show his findings, Homewood created animated GIFs of the data from each weather station in Paraguay, contrasting the “old” data–the data actually recorded by thermometers and reported at the time–with the “new” data, i.e., the massaged numbers that GISS now publishes. Here they are. The deception is obvious:

Then there was the “settled science on Cholesterol” is suddenly not so settled.

In a draft report issued in December, an influential federal panel — the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee — scrapped longstanding guidelines about avoiding high-cholesterol food. In the draft, cholesterol — found in foods such as egg yolks — is no longer listed as a “nutrient of concern.”

Now suddenly there are questions concerning the big bang:

“The Big Bang singularity is the most serious problem of general relativity because the laws of physics appear to break down there,” Ahmed Farag Ali at Benha University and the Zewail City of Science and Technology, both in Egypt, told Phys.org.

Ali and coauthor Saurya Das at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, have shown in a paper published in Physics Letters B that the Big Bang singularity can be resolved by their in which the universe has no beginning and no end.

I’m sure many of my fellow Christians are pointing and laughing but there is a different principle here that is worth discussing.

There was a time when it was settled science that the earth was flat.

There was a time when it was settled science that the sun revolved around the earth.

There was a time when it was settled science that bleeding people was the way to remove diseases.

But because science was all about observations backed up by experimentation to come with deductions we could move beyond all of these things.

I’m old enough to remember when what I described above was the norm, lately it’s become all about the grant, about orthodoxy and pretty much all about advancing an accepted orthodoxy.  For those who have forgotten what was once in living memory let me remind you of some things.

There is a difference between a “theory” and a “law” in science.

There is a difference between offering a hypothesis and offering a proof

There is a reason why it’s called the Big Bang Theory and the Theory of Evolution etc etc etc and not the Big Bang Laws or the Laws of evolution.

Science is all about wondering aloud, testing our ideas and then changing them based on what we learn.  Once we stop questioning, once we stop trying to learn, once we turn scientific inquiry into a doctrine that if question makes one a “denier” then what we are doing is no longer science, it is a religion with it’s own inquisition

All of this isn’t science, it’s arrogance and narcissism but it doesn’t matter because in a 100 years now only will we be all dead but as our technology improves someone will prove it all wrong anyways most likely in ways that we can’t even imagine.

It will be fun

As a giant Historic” blizzard heads for the east coast to the point where I’m writing it before it gets there just in case there is no power let me suggest that even though it prompted me to actually buy a snowblower I suspect there is little “historic” about it beyond our perception of it.

One of the things about humans as creatures who exist in time is we have something called “living memory” which is defined as all the event that exist in the experience of the humans alive today.

So if the oldest person in the world is say 115 then, depending of the age of their oldest memory there is a time in living memory when there was no such thing as airplanes while on the other side of the scale a five-year old of today never remembers a time without twitter, smartphones, the internet you get the picture.

What does this have to do with the weather? Simply this. Earth has cycles, some that we can clearly see every year, for example the seasons, some which are longer, for example droughts and floods that come and go as snowfall increases and decreases. And there are others that are much longer, for example the Blizzard of 78 was a huge blizzard that shut down my state of Massachusetts (although if you’re under 40 you don’t remember it) and there was the great ice storm that shut things down around here about six years ago.

However the reality is likely that while these might be the biggest storms in my memory I suspect that there have been plenty of bigger storms like it around here. They simply happened before I was born.

Such storms would have had bigger impacts because the ability of the people to move such snow & stay warm would have been harder, but also lesser because people didn’t travel 50 to 100 miles to work daily.

The point it there are likely weather cycles that are years log, decades long, centuries long millennia long and perhaps some that are even longer.

We know cycles exist, what we don’t know is why. Of course we can theorize as our science increases or make educated guesses. I for example, would guess some of this might be because the path of the moon around the earth and the earth around the sun and the sun around whatever it orbits is not entirely consistent or gravitationally changes as other objects pass though our system or near it and perhaps cycles that the sun goes through as well etc etc etc.

But it’s human nature to turn things they see into “historic” events rather than part of the natural cycle of the universe because it seems to increase our own importance in it.

So by all means prepare for the storm that’s coming that all proper precautions but I suggest you Keep this article in mind next time someone tries to sell you something based on impending doom of the planet.

Navin: [to thieves in car] Hey guess what, you’re our 8th customer of the day, you’ve won a free oven mitt! I’ll go get it for you. [Runs to phone in office with police on the line] Yeah I’m back they’re going to be a while, don’t worry I’ve rigged it.

Phony Mr. Neusbaumn : [In car] You guys want to stick around for an oven mitt?

Thieves: Nah

The Jerk 1979

Benito took out papers.  The man snatched at them, but Benito backed away.  He read: “Dear Jon, I could understand your opposition to us last year.  There was some doubt about the process, and you expressed fears all of us felt.  But now you know better.  I have no witnesses but you told me you understood Dr. Pittman’s demonstration.  In God’s name, Jon, why do you continue?  I ask you as your sister, as a fellow scientist, as a human being Why?

Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle Inferno 1976

There is a certain point where you just aren’t getting the bang for your buck.

Newton’s 2nd law of motion states the acceleration of an object is equal to the Net force applied to it divided by the mass. Because we do not live in the vacuum of space once an object accelerates to a greater speed, say from 50 MPH to 60 MPH the amount of force necessary to maintain that new speed (generated by the gas you give your engine) is greater that what you needed to keep the old one.

But while you might be willing to burn that extra gas to get to 60 from 50 you might not be willing to do so to get from 60 to 80 & keep it there.

Maybe you can’t control the car well at 80 or maybe you’re worried about the state policeman who tacks on a greater fine for a ticket for every mile beyond 10 you are breaking the speed limit or maybe you just don’t want to burn the gas necessary to keep your car at 80. No matter what reason you have you figure that extra Yeah 1/3 of a mile per minute just isn’t worth it.

This is known as the law of diminishing returns and applies everywhere. It might be worth investing $200-400 on a robotic vacuum to keep your house clean but unless you’re Adrian monk it’s likely not worth spending $250 to $300 per square foot to convert your house into a class 100,000 clean room.

And even if Adrian Monk was willing to spend $300 per sq ft for that Class 100,000 clean room, he might not be willing to pay the extra $225 per square foot for a class 100 one.

Bottom line, there is a point where the amount of gain you are getting is not worth the time and expense or even the maintenance costs.

At least not to YOU, but what if you are a guy who make their living off those extra costs?

What if a guy sells gas for a living? The more gas you burn the better off he is.

What if you are in the parts business? If your crash your car speeding he makes a buck of the parts for the repair or maybe gets the parts from your totaled car at a deal for resale.

What if your small town makes it’s living off of speeding tickets? If that’s the case that extra $200 fine keeps you in clover.

What if you are in the business of selling clean rooms or their components? Wouldn’t you love to be selling them to 20,000 homeowners in a small city rather than the odd lab or two in the county?

That’s what happens with NGO. Many of them start out with the best of motives, to solve a crisis or problem, some of them huge and demanding, but once you’ve built that fundraising base, once you’ve secured that government spending, once you traveled to Prague, Sydney, Barcelona and LA to speak at conferences at five star hotels with the best of food, drink and companionship do you really want to give that up just because the problem is largely solved?

Maybe you can ask Al Gore, or Al Sharpton

If you’ve ever wondered why the environmental movement, the feminist movement, the civil rights movement the amnesty movement and all the other movements always seem to be moving from crisis to crisis it’s because of one thing.

You can’t make a living off of a solved problem and you certainly can’t convince people to give if your enemies are not about to destroy the world.

And yes I do get the Irony of my tip jar appeal at the end of this post but in fairness I don’t claim it does anything more than support me & pay my writers.

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Apparently a Feminist author has written a book suggesting that the daily consumption of hormones to avoid pregnancy might not be the best thing for your body.

And he tells the story with a bit of a prologue

It would seem to be just common sense that the long-term use of artificial hormones — for birth control or for anything else — could have harmful side effects. When I was in college, a guy who was into weight-lifting called me over to his dorm room one afternoon and asked me to read the very detailed warning included with the steroids (Dynabol, as I recall) he had somehow obtained on the black market.These warnings were written in a lot of scientific jargon that my buddy didn’t understand, and he asked me to translate them into plain English. So I was reading along through this lengthy list of potential side effects and reached the phrase “testicular atrophy.”

Oh, hell, no.

It kind of reminds me of all those commercials for all these various drugs for you to ‘ask your doctor about” where rather nasty side effects are listed while calm and pleasant images are on the screen to distract you from the fact that they are worse than the problem that you’re already used to.

And a Radical Feminist blogger who had her own unfortunate experiences with the pill notes

I was fascinated by Grigg-Spall’s discussion of the “dark side” of the pill. Apparently data collected from Bayer concentration camp experiments was used in developing the pill (p 31). The pill has negative side effects for women ranging from promoting bone loss (p 63) to blood clots to depression, etc. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the pill as a class one carcinogen alongside tobacco and asbestos (p 59). Apparently, Depo Provera is currently used in sex offender rehab programs to decrease sex drive (p 68).

These are just some of the negative aspects of HBC that third wave feminists and pharmaceutical companies routinely downplay.

Do you see what I mean about common sense? You don’t have to be a research scientist to figure out that if “testicular atrophy” is a potential side effect of a guy injecting himself with synthetic male hormones, maybe it’s not such a good idea for women to be gobbling down a daily dose of synthetic female hormones.

And given the protests over frankenfood I would think that would be an easy sell, but apparently when we are talking about contraception suddenly the standard changes.

So the radical feminist believes that the arguments of “sex-positive/mainstream feminism” are just coincidentally aligned with the interests of the pharmaceutical industry that promotes hormonal birth control. I’d bet that if a diligent researcher looked closely at the financing behind institutional feminism, they would discover that this alignment is not entirely coincidental, like how “mainstream feminism” sold out to the porn industry in the 1980s. People need to be more skeptical. Not everybody who says they’re your friend is actually your friend.

Liberals often accuse conservatives of being “science deniers” but apparently scientific principles, study and logic are only of value if they serve or can be twisted to serve their causes.

by Timothy Imholt

My name is Timothy and I am a scientist.  And I believe in climate change.

Of course that’s a little like saying I believe the earth is a sphere.  The word climate is all but synonymous with the word change.  Always has been, always will be.

In the SOTU, Obama said man made climate change is a fact and everyone agrees.

Except the data.  Data doesn’t care.  Data doesn’t care about grant funding.  Data doesn’t care about tenure granted by leftist review boards made up of English majors and political scientists.  Data doesn’t care that you have an agenda to control the economy, or rich contributors who make “green” energy products that you have to pay back.

Data just is.

Data says that the biggest factor in our climate is this little trivial thing known as our Sun.

Politicians– and so-called scientists looking for tenure or grants– seem to treat the Sun as irrelevant to our climate.  This, of course, is silly.  Experience a sunny day sometime.

Or think of it this way.  Is it just a coincidence that the coldest part of our globe is the farthest from the Sun, and the warmest is the closest?  Out of 92 MILLION miles, a few thousand miles makes the difference between tropical dangerous heat, and unlivable deadly cold.  There are other climate forces at work but at the basic level that is the difference.  Should the Sun be considered a force in climate?  I say yes, it should be at least put into the model, yet sadly in some models it is not.

Now, this would be irrelevant if the Sun were a constant, if it didn’t have cycles or never changed its intensity.  But that is NOT the case.

And the inconvenient data says that Earth’s temperature cycles mirror the Sun’s fluctuations.

About 10 years ago I published a paper, along with several very well-known theoretical physicists, in the peer reviewed journal Physical Review E.  In that paper we compared solar irradiance to global temperature cycles.  There was a shockingly accurate match.  Sun’s irradiance goes up, temperature goes up.  The alternative is also true.

Oops.

Perhaps Barack Obama should forget holding back the tides like King Cnut by cutting back on coal-fired power plants and get his Solyndra pals to start working on a giant thermostat for the Sun.

It would do just about as much good.  Call it shovel ready rhetoric.

In science we always look for the fundamentals.  What is really behind some action or reaction.

In politics I say we should apply the same problem solving technique.

Let’s look at the proposed Carbon Credit Exchange.  In order for that entity to be viable from a financial perspective one must have the government requiring businesses and individuals to participate (sound familiar?).

Who owns it?

Well, not surprisingly Al Gore owns a large percentage of it, as do some investors he now works with.  I am all for profit making entities.  However, I am also for full disclosure.

Does former Vice President Gore bring this up when he is out pushing for these types of things?  I have never heard of him doing so.  Yet if the laws pass requiring the use of this exchange, VP Gore will become a billionaire, not just a multi-millionaire overnight.

Anyone see a motivating factor here for the former VP?

What I propose is that there is a REAL discussion on climate.  In that discussion both sides must be heard and both sides must bring real (not hockey stick faked) data.  Any data proven to be false must immediately throw the conclusions drawn on that data in the dust bin.

Once real, scientific, not emotional, non-political conclusions are drawn, then we decide a course of action.  But, as long as those pushing the agenda are taking campaign contributions or stand to directly profit I will continue to have doubts.

Now that I have written all of this, someone is probably saying I am pro-big business, pro-pollution, and the like.  Well, I am pro-big business because they employ people.  I am NOT pro-pollution because I like to go hiking, kayaking, etc as well.  But there must be honesty in our government.  There must also be financial responsibly in our government.  This issue of climate change is starting to look more and more like the worlds largest Ponzi scheme.  That must not be allowed while conclusions are NOT agreed upon by all scientists, contrary to the repeated statements by our elected officials.

Timothy Imholt PhD

Physicist by training, Engineer by paycheck, fiction writer for fun, and co-author of the critically acclaimed novel Forest of Assassins, as well as the China Bones series available now on Amazon.

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You know I am really getting upset at the reaction to Newt Gingrich’s moonbase idea.

I would argue that we have to get our economy in order before we consider such a thing but for whatever reason this has all become a joke. On morning Joe they are laughing, on John Stewart they are laughing.

It’s an amazing thing to see for me. From the airplane to the Moon Landing to the PC Americans have a tradition of doing thing that people considered simply impossible just a few generations ago.

The idea of a moon base and the science behind it is a much smaller leap than the idea of going to the Moon in the first place, or the idea of maned flight, or the idea of organ transplants.

Does anyone remember the 6 million dollar man? Take a look at the artificial limbs that are out there today. They would have been the stuff of fantasy when I was a kid.

And consider this, when a country dreams big dreams it’s citizens do as well, in fact in these times people NEED to believe that they can achieve and do better for themselves.

A country and a people unwilling to dream big dreams or achieve big things, will not do either.

In my post earlier today I talked about the shock of finding out about the crash and burn of a leading embryonic stem cell research company almost three weeks after the fact. I questioned why it got so little play:

the idea that a whole branch of scientific inquiry; A branch that the left promoted in print and broadcast news. A branch that was highly funded by taxpayer grants, A branch that leading celebrates used to paint Religious conservatives as heartless and anti-science. A branch that was touted culturally in film and media was as reliable as a “ONE OWNER” sign on a used car I’d say that was not only a story, but I’d call that a front page at the top of the broadcast story. Apparently the left would not.

So lets see how the Huffington Post, a leading organ of the left, did decide to report this story when it happened:

It was a roomful of giants: 66 of the world’s best stem cell research scientists and technicians. They had succeeded in the initial stage of the world’s first human embryonic stem cell trials. These were safety trials for GRNOPC1, a stem cell product which might ease previously-incurable spinal cord injury paralysis — they should have been lauded as heroes — instead they were losing their jobs.

It would be different if their experiment had failed. But they had done everything right, played by the rules all the way: and in so far as they had been allowed to go, they had triumphed.

Hold on a sec, they succeeded yet they were going out of business? That doesn’t make sense. Let’s read further:

By FDA requirements, the first trial for any new drug or therapy must be safety. Could the cells be injected into a newly-paralyzed person without doing them harm? Opponents of the research had always maintained that the stem cells would cause cancer.

Didn’t happen. There was no harm done to any of the patients.

That’s a triumph? “The research didn’t give the test subject cancer and didn’t do them any harm.” Are we judging under the “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” standard? Give me millions of tax dollars to feed test subjects sugar pills and I’ll wager I get the same triumphal lack of cancers in my patients too!

The second step would have been to inject significantly larger quantities of cells into other newly-injured patients, perhaps five times as much, to see if there was a positive effect. The cells injected would be increased from roughly two million cells to as much as ten million — a couple teaspoonsful, small in quantity but potentially huge in impact.

So the previous test did not produce any positive results (although its been reported the actual results weren’t released) and you want more funding to boost the dosage to see if a larger dose does? Simple question: How is it any less likely the larger dose might produce the harm the smaller dose did not as it is that the larger dose would produce benefits that the smaller dose did not?

But this next step, as well as the final one to try a much larger group of patients, will not take place with Geron.

Why were the trials stopped, if they were going well? The immediate answer is financial. To take a new therapy or medicine to market is incredibly costly. The price was just too high for Geron, a small company, though it always fought above its weight class.

But political harassment is part of the picture as well: the hate-filled propaganda the Religious Right and their allies in the Republican party had spewed at supporters of the research

So lets get this straight, the company financial failure is all about political harassment. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that after millions of taxpayer dollars over the years its initial tests produced the same results in test subjects that feeding them a Tomato a day would produce?

as well as actual political attacks, laws proposed to fine scientists, even jail them for research.

Yup, in the same sentence he accuses Republicans of both “hate filled propaganda” and wanting to jail scientists. Irony is apparently not his strong suit.

There was also favoritism shown the “less controversial” adult stem cell research, funded lavishly compared to the embryonic variety. In 2008, for example, human adult stem cell research received $297 million in federal funds — embryonic, only $88 million. Even now, under a far more progressive Administration, adult stem cell research receives nearly triple the funding ($341 million compared to $125 million) of embryonic.

Yeah, I’m sure Solyndra and Evergreen Solar would have kept their doors open if only we gave them more tax payer money too.

Now I feel sorry for the author Don C. Reed. He has an emotional investment in this as legislation that favored the company in California was named after his paralyzed son that he hoped would be aided by this research. So given that emotional connection lets add a few rational observations:

  • If these tests were so successful why not release the results? That’s what happens in (non-climate) science, data is released and studied by other scientists
  • The whole idea of medical research is to produce positive results, if Geron’s research produced positive results beyond “not causing cancer” I suspect we would have heard about them, particularly in this puff piece.
  • The potential market for successful treatments for spinal injuries etc is massive yet the company could not produce private funding. That speaks volumes, public funding involves betting the “house’s” (read other people’s) money, private funding does not. There is a reason why, for example Evergreen Solar and Solyndra both only avoided bankruptcy when financed by taxpayers.
  •  Mr. Reed put “less controversial” in scare quotes when referring to adult stem cell treatments, yet adult stemcells have produced actual breakthroughs:

The Japanese biologist Shinya Yamanaka found in 2007 that adult cells could be reprogrammed to an embryonic state with surprising ease. This technology “may eventually eclipse the embryonic stem cell lines for therapeutic as well as diagnostics applications,” Dr. Kriegstein said. For researchers, reprogramming an adult cell can be much more convenient, and there have never been any restrictions on working with adult stem cells.

For therapy, far off as that is, treating patients with their own cells would avoid the problem of immune rejection.

and not just theoretical, adult stem cells are curing blindness in Australia:

Researchers in Australia have come up with an outwardly simple but incredibly ingenious way of curing blindness caused by corneal damage: Take everyday contact lenses, already used by millions (including me), and infuse them with a patient’s own stem cells. After wearing them for about 2 weeks, test subjects reported a seemingly miraculous restoration of sight.

Aiding angina patients in Chicago:

New research published online today in Circulation Research found that injections of adult patients’ own CD34+ stem cells reduced reports of angina episodes and improved exercise tolerance time in patients with chronic, severe refractory angina (severe chest discomfort that did not respond to other therapeutic options).

The phase II prospective, double-blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial was conducted at 26 centers in the United States, and is part of a long-term collaboration between researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Baxter International Inc. The objective of the trial was to determine whether delivery of autologous (meaning one’s own) CD34+ stem cells directly into multiple targeted sites in the heart might reduce the frequency of angina episodes in patients suffering from chronic severe refractory angina, under the hypothesis that CD34+ stem cells may be involved in the creation of new blood vessels and increase tissue perfusion.

and were actually used in surgery on a current presidential candidate.

Texas Gov. and possible GOP presidential contender Rick Perry got everybody talking about stem cells again when he announced that he received an injection of his own stem cells during spinal fusion surgery

You would think that actual results like this rather than deserving scare quotes are not only worthy of funding but would be a cause for celebration.

You would be wrong, apparently to our friends on the left this stopped being about science years ago.

The truth is embryonic stem cell research was oversold and it appears researches knew what they were selling:

Members of Congress and advocates for fighting diseases have long spoken of human embryonic stem cell research as if it were a sure avenue to quick cures for intractable afflictions. Scientists have not publicly objected to such high-flown hopes, which have helped fuel new sources of grant money like the $3 billion initiative in California for stem cell research.

In private, however, many researchers have projected much more modest goals for embryonic stem cells. Their chief interest is to derive embryonic stem cell lines from patients with specific diseases, and by tracking the cells in the test tube to develop basic knowledge about how the disease develops.

Those two paragraphs from that Instapundit link are quoted from that right wing propaganda machine known as the New York Times. It was written in 2009 more than 5 years after Ron Reagan took the stage and the Democratic Convention describing embryonic stem cell research as

what may be the greatest medical breakthrough in our, or in any, lifetime

…and a lot of injured people and their families (including I suspect Mr. Reed who is understandably looking for any card to help his paralyzed son) were taken for a ride in the cause of financial gain for favored companies and political gain for the left.

I think the deception and use of these people in this way was obscene. And I think the attempt of those in print, television and social media to hide their own part in selling this snake oil while declaring their opponents “anti-science” is a story and a crime that I refuse to let them bury.

I don’t expect to see any media apologies or mea culpas over this, after all this became part of the abortion wars and abortion is one of the sacraments in the religion of liberalism but the facts on the ground and the continuing success in adult stem cell therapies will speak for themselves even if the media remains silent.

But don’t worry, it will not be so many years (4 years 53 days according to Rush Limbaugh’s Al Gore’s doomsday clock) when we will see this entire charade played out again as our friends in the print, television and social media will once again have nothing to say on the subject that they cling to with only less sacramental furor. The lesser sacrament of global warming. In fact considering recent news from Canada we might not have to wait at all.

Continue reading “The left and the science of denial”

Remember when conservative and pro-life activists positions on embryonic stem cell research where proof that conservatives were backwards anti-science zealots, well guess what:

The Democrats’ decade-long strategy of hyping embryo stem cell research crashed into a hard fact on Nov.15. That’s when Geron Corp., the world’s leading embryo research company, announced it was closing down its much-touted stem cell program, despite the guarantee of more government aid from Democratic-affiliated sources

November 15th, this happened November 15th? and I’m just hearing about this now? Perhaps because as the Weekly standard put it, the story was so underplayed:

How did the New York Times report this story? It didn’t. The L.A. Times? A blog entry. USA Today? Nada. San Francisco Chronicle? At least it was in the paper—on page A16, under the hardly descriptive headline “Regimen Shown To Aid Heart Patients.” And so it goes.

You would think there was a political agenda involved, well there was, the Daily Caller again:

The Democrats used the dispute to paint conservatives as uneducated religious opponents of science, while also painting Democrats as science-loving, kind-hearted funders of life-saving cures for ailing voters and their families.

And where Christians and Republicans are accused of being anti-science by Democrats we know where elite opinion is going to follow:

The mass media aligned with the Democrats “because the science community and the patients’ community was on the pro-[embryo stem-cell] side,” said Caplan. “They tended to listen to those voices more than the political [conservatives] and religious [advocates] and few scientists” pushing the rival technologies, he said.

Well surely scientists aren’t going to play along for ideological reasons are they?

Many scientists also played along, partly because they don’t like regulation of their trade, but also because they were eager to make deals with Democrats, with Geron and with the drug companies.

As part of the political campaign, several states governed by Democrats funded scientists studying embryo research. California allocated $3 billion over 10 years, and New York adopted legislation designed to shield academics and companies that created and grew embryo-stage humans for lucrative lab testing of novel pharmaceutical compounds.

OK OK so maybe democrats were rewarding scientists financially and the media was backing them socially if they played along, but what about the actual science, where is the story about why Geron work didn’t pan out?

Some of its stem cells were to be transplanted back into humans. But if even a few stem cells went rogue, they would result in cancer — and a lawsuit.

To minimize those risks, Geron planned to grow batches of cells from human embryos that were themselves created in its lab. The technology was so complex, risky and politically controversial that the company had managed to test these Franken-embryonic stem cells in only two people by this fall.

So it’s a high risk strategy that could result in death and cancer if it goes wrong, but they did test it, what where the results?

The company did not release the test results when it ended research.

Not released? NOT RELEASED Cripes who was in charge of the data Phil Jones?

Now I admit some bias here, but the idea that a whole branch of scientific inquiry; A branch that the left promoted in print and broadcast news. A branch that was highly funded by taxpayer grants, A branch that leading celebrates used to paint Religious conservatives as heartless and anti-science. A branch that was touted culturally in film and media was as reliable as a “ONE OWNER” sign on a used car I’d say that was not only a story, but I’d call that a front page at the top of the broadcast story. Apparently the left would not.

Later today we’ll discuss how they did decide to play it.