Wednesday, April 01, 2015

More scientific brains fried by political correctness

One hopes that the authors below knew what was really going on in their data but they show no sign of it.  Their basic finding is that kids from rich families have bigger brains -- and they claim that wealth somehow has a direct effect on brain size.  Researcher Dr Kimberley Noble is quoted as saying:

"The brain is the product of both genetics and experience and experience is particularly powerful in moulding brain development in childhood.  This suggests that interventions to improve socioeconomic circumstance, family life and/or educational opportunity can make a vast difference."

It does nothing of the sort.  What is being ignored is that naughty IQ again.  The findings were entirely predictable from what we have long known about IQ.  IQ is both hereditary, tends to be higher among successful people and is associated with larger brain size.  All that the stupid woman has discovered is the old old fact that IQ is hereditary.  And no "interventions" will change that

Family income, parental education and brain structure in children and adolescents

By Kimberly G Noble et al.


Socioeconomic disparities are associated with differences in cognitive development. The extent to which this translates to disparities in brain structure is unclear. We investigated relationships between socioeconomic factors and brain morphometry, independently of genetic ancestry, among a cohort of 1,099 typically developing individuals between 3 and 20 years of age. Income was logarithmically associated with brain surface area.

Among children from lower income families, small differences in income were associated with relatively large differences in surface area, whereas, among children from higher income families, similar income increments were associated with smaller differences in surface area.

These relationships were most prominent in regions supporting language, reading, executive functions and spatial skills; surface area mediated socioeconomic differences in certain neurocognitive abilities. These data imply that income relates most strongly to brain structure among the most disadvantaged children.

Nature Neuroscience, 2015


Two More States Enact ‘Right to Try’ Laws For Terminally Ill Patients

By delaying new treatments for years, the FDA has probably killed more Americans than road accidents have

Utah and Indiana became the eighth and ninth states to enact “right to try” laws that allow terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs that have not yet been approved for general use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence both signed bills on Wednesday that allow physicians to prescribe “investigational” medication that has made it through the first part of the FDA’s three-phase clinical trials process to terminally ill patients who have exhausted other options.

Joining Pence at the signing ceremony in Indianapolis was five-year-old Jordan McLinn, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a fatal degenerative disease that has no FDA-approved therapies. However, Laura McLinn, the boy’s mother, said that there were promising new drugs being developed that might help her son.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, similar bills have been filed in 32 states and the District of Columbia so far this year.

On March 13, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the Arkansas Right to Try Act (SB4), which states that “patients who have a terminal disease do not have the luxury of waiting until an investigational drug, biological product, or device receives final approval” from the FDA.

The law grants immunity to pharmaceutical companies, doctors and hospitals who administer experimental drugs except in cases of “gross negligence or willful misconduct.”

On March 9, Gov. Matt Mead signed the Wyoming Right to Try Act (SF3), which passed both chambers of the state legislature with just two dissenting votes.

The law, which goes into effect July 1, also allows terminally ill patients who have “considered all other treatment options currently approved” by the FDA to be treated with “investigational” drugs or devices that have cleared the first phase of clinical trials. Insurance companies are allowed, but not required, to provide coverage for such treatment.

Last November, 78 percent of Arizona voters also approved Proposition 303, a “right to try” ballot initiative. Colorado was the first state to pass similar legislation in 2014.

“When someone is on their deathbed, the fact that FDA regulations would let them die rather than try has got to be one of the most inhumane policies of the federal government. Every state should nullify the FDA like this,” said Mike Maharrey, communications director of the Tenth Amendment Center, which supports “right to try” laws.

However, critics of “right to try” laws say that untested drugs could do more harm than good.

“They’re far more likely to harm patients than to help them,” Michigan oncology surgeon Dr. David Gorski blogged in November, accusing advocates of “shamelessly…play[ing] on people’s fears of Ebola to promote these bad laws.”

“Having passed phase 1 does not mean a drug is safe…If there’s one thing worse than dying of a terminal illness, it’s suffering unnecessary complications from a drug that is incredibly unlikely to save or significantly prolong your life and bankrupting yourself and family in the process,” Gorski added.

Other critics say the FDA’s job is to protect patients from potentially dangerous or ineffective drugs, and that it already has a mechanism in place that allows individuals who do not qualify for clinical trials access to experimental treatments.

The FDA began its first formal “expanded access” program in 1987 after receiving numerous complaints that only a few hundred out of the thousands of patients diagnosed with AIDS were allowed to participate in clinical trials.

A decade later, the FDA allowed terminally-ill patients to apply for its “compassionate use” program, which received 5,849 single-patient applications between 2010 and 2014, and denied only 33.

The FDA pointed out that it approved more requests for expanded access in 2014 than during any year since 2010, when the agency first began publishing statistics on the program. Last year, 1,843 requests for expanded access were received, the highest number since 2010.

But “right to try” advocates say the application process is so time-consuming and cumbersome that it discourages sick people and their doctors from applying, and many patients die before their applications are approved.

The Arizona-based Goldwater Institute, which developed model “right to try” legislation, published a 2014 policy report stating that “over a half million cancer patients and thousands of patients with other terminal illnesses die each year as the bureaucratic wheels at the FDA slowly turn.”

The criticism prompted the FDA to create a working group last December to “develop policies that would improve access to investigational therapies.”

And FDA Associate Commissioner Peter Lurie also announced in February that the agency would “provide a streamlined alternative” application for individual patients that would take only 45 minutes to complete, “compared to the 100 hours listed on the previous form.”

But Goldwater Institute president Darcy Olsen called the FDA process “an inhumane system that prevents the vast majority of Americans with terminal illnesses from accessing promising investigational treatments.

“Compassionate use should be the rule for everyone, not the exception,” Olsen said.



The Washington Post's Obama Deniers

It's as if they were waiting, breathlessly. The moment Ted Cruz announced his presidential campaign, the national media proclaimed their horror. He was "brash," a "hardliner," an "uncompromising conservative," they warned. ABC anchor David Muir announced his agenda was the usual No list: "Promising no abortion, no gay marriage, no gun control, no IRS."

Apparently, there's no room for hope and change — if you're a conservative.

Barack Obama owned the most left-wing voting record during his short tenure in the Senate. But when he announced his presidential campaign in Springfield, Illinois, on Feb. 10, 2007 — arrogantly comparing himself to Abe Lincoln — the networks warmly repeated that he pledged to be a "uniter" that was "promising a more hopeful America." They said he declared it was "time for his generation to end the cynical partisan politics of the baby boomers."

How does that look in 2015? National Review's Jim Geraghty points out that Obama "the Uniter" nudged Vice President Biden and 58 congressional Democrats into boycotting an address from the Israeli prime minister, and now insists on secret deals with Iran with no congressional intervention. His team just announced plans to withhold federal emergency funds from governors who are "climate deniers." They put up barricades around open-air monuments during government shutdowns. Obama mocked his opponents as "tea baggers." The examples of class, gender and race warfare are endless.

But Ted Cruz is unacceptable because he won't compromise.

An unsigned staff editorial in The Washington Post is steeped in denial, if not intellectual obfuscation, ignoring the governing reality of Obama, the uncompromising wacko bird. They acknowledged some similarities — short tenure in the Senate, cute daughters, charisma and alleged constitutional expertise. And then they launched into Cruz by projecting untruths about Obama.

"Here's one way to tell Mr. Cruz from the winning constitutional scholar of 2008: Sen. Barack Obama promised to unite the country. Mr. Cruz — not so much. In fact, the most notable characteristic of Mr. Cruz's brief time in elected politics has been his aversion to values that are essential to democracy's functioning: practicality, modesty and compromise."

That's the President Obama of 2015: Compromise? Modesty? Pragmatism? Or consider candidate Obama, who dropped his pal Reverend Wright from praying at his campaign kickoff at the last minute. He dropped wearing a flag pin for a while in 2007. In 2008, Obama mocked the "bitter clingers" who revere gun rights and religion.

The Post writers plowed ahead shamelessly. Check out this flagrant display of denial about Obama's betrayal of his promises to be uniter in chief.

"It has been more than a decade since Mr. Obama derided 'the pundits' who 'like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states.' If those divisions have proven less mutable than he predicted, the answer is not to give up on progress," the Post proclaimed. We need "leaders who understand that progress and principle can go hand in hand, and who have the pragmatic skills to make that happen."

But the Post wasn't done insulting the senator from Texas. "Mr. Cruz's unique contribution — if one can call it that — has been his confrontational, ideology-driven style and tactics, marked by a refusal to compromise even when that leads to national dysfunction and embarrassment."

The Posties actually choked on Cruz saying, "We demand our liberty." They insisted the country "needs to take its political disagreements down a notch."

This is where the Post agenda becomes clear. Liberals (including journalists) don't want compromise. They want conservative surrender. They certainly don't want embarrassing "extremists" demanding "liberty," as if that was some sort of antiquated notion rejected by the enlightened.

It was The Washington Post that years ago gave us the "poor, uneducated and easy to command types" descriptor for conservatives. Years later, nothing's changed.



Lessons for the U.S. from Great Britain

Since his inauguration as Great Britain’s prime minister in 2010, David Cameron has pursued a radically different fiscal policy for coping with the aftermath of the Great Recession compared to that of his American counterparts. He has tightened government expenditures, cutting defense spending by 4.3 percent, and the British economy responded with a robust 3 percent growth rate in national output last year. The United States would do well to emulate Britain, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland.

Cameron has even defied NATO, by reducing defense spending to below the minimum threshold the alliance requires member nations to spend—2 percent of GDP. And despite an upcoming national election, and the temptation this creates to increase government spending, he has pledged to double down on austerity. If the next U.S. president possessed such vision and courage, the United States would reap considerable benefits in terms of economic progress and national security, according to Eland. To promote that end, one project the 45th president of the United States should initiate is the closure of numerous overseas military bases established during the Cold War.

“The next president, whether Republican or Democrat, should plan to substantially reduce such foreign overstretch over a period of four years, so that it could be completed in one presidential term and thus not be reversed,” Eland writes. “Unfortunately, with the hawkish Hillary Clinton the probable Democratic nominee for 2016 and a big-government Republican Party (Tea Party veneer aside) that has already forgotten the lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq and has become more bellicose by the day, a Cameron-style austerity program for defense (and everything else) is extremely unlikely.”



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


No comments: