With a database of over 5,000 scientists, from Nobel prize winners to postdocs and PhD students, Sense About Science works in partnership with scientific bodies, research publishers, policy makers, the public and the media, to change public discussions about science and evidence. They make these scientists available for questions from civic organizations and the public looking for scientific advice from experts, campaign for the promotion of scientific principles in public policy, and publish neat guides to understanding science intended for laypeople. [more inside]
Since the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended against screening for prostate cancer, the debate has been furious. In fact, screening rates are likely to remain high, because most urologists disagree with the recommendations. One argued, "If you don’t do it, it’s negligent." (The debate is not new. Previously on Metafilter.) [more inside]
Qualcomm and the X Prize Foundation have launched a new contest: Envision and build the equivalent of Star Trek's medical tricorder, a portable health monitoring device that can remotely diagnose patients. The winner will receive $10 million. [more inside]
NPR is reporting that the Susan G. Komen foundation is severing it's ties and halting grants to Planned Parenthood, cutting off "hundreds of thousands of dollars", mainly earmarked for breast exams. Komen says the key reason is that Planned Parenthood is under investigation in Congress — a probe launched by a conservative Republican who was urged to act by anti-abortion groups. [more inside]
Yesterday, the little-noticed U.S. Preventive Services Task Force caused a stir by releasing new guidelines discouraging routine mammography for women under age 50 and breast self-examinations at any age. (Comparison chart of new and old guidelines here.) The American Cancer Society immediately registered its strong disagreement; meanwhile, the National Breast Cancer Coalition came out in strong support of the new guidelines, saying:
The over-emphasis on the importance of screening, despite a lack of strong evidence, has been elevated to such a degree that some even equate screening with prevention of breast cancer. The National Breast Cancer Coalition hopes that today’s release of the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) revised recommendations will put the brakes on this run-away train and will put screening and its limitations into proper perspective.[more inside]
All pregnancies are now recommended to be screened for Down Syndrome. 90% of those tested positive have opted for an abortion, while some in support groups discourage this to avoid becoming a vanishing minority with less funding. Now that campaign promises are being made to those with special needs, while vowing to outlaw abortion, a parent or voter might want to know more details. The costs used in this analysis were $146 for first-trimester screening, $66 for the second-trimester Triple Screen, and $86 for a second-trimester Quad Screen. A consultation with a genetic counselor is estimated at $68, and if a diagnostic procedure is also done, the total cost is $1,308. Terminations of pregnancy done in the first and second trimester are $648 and $1,146, respectively. The societal cost of raising and caring for an individual with Down syndrome is $762,748. Previously on Metafilter.
The San Francisco Department of Elections has qualified our initiative. The Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco has won its ballot initiative to honor George W. Bush: Should The City And County of San Francsico Rename The Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant the George W Bush Sewage Plant?
The TSA would like to help you travel with your service animal. As with any set of guidelines, sometimes people try to game the system.
Bare naked travel? (Previously on MeFi: here, except now they're actually doing it, and here). The TSA wants to see you naked. Just don't paint "Kip Hawley Is An Idiot" on your torso in Pepto-Bismol before you go to the airport.
Underground Wonderland The RISD Museum is hosting a retrospective of Providence's DIY marketing approach to underground shows. The exhibit, with every wall plastered from floor to ceiling, feels like a time-capsule. Fort Thunder and its associated bands has been mentioned here on the blue before, but the sense of community that comes through, and which still runs through Providence's subcultures thanks to individuals like Ryan Lesser and his "Lots of Noise" site deserves yet another post. Be sure to check out the Lots of Noise image and photo gallery for more fun stuff. (No direct links, sorry!)
The Netflix Rolling Roadshow, "Imagine watching 'Jaws' from a raft in the ocean just off the Martha's Vineyard beach where it was filmed . . . or watching 'Escape from Alcatraz' in the cell block where Frank Morris, played by Clint Eastwood, was locked up...This August, the Netflix Rolling Roadshow celebrates classic American movies by screening them at the locations they made famous. Each screening is an interactive special event (think scavenger hunts, road rallies, a high school prom, even spending the night on Alcatraz Island). Some screenings will also include cast reunions and question-and-answer sessions with the filmmakers." My favorite: Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. That is going to be a surreal experience.
Hello Gattaca : "The federal government is planning to overhaul its employee drug testing program to include scrutiny of workers' hair, saliva and sweat, a shift that could spur more businesses to revise screening for millions of their own workers."
Is the passenger screening less secure than purely random screening? According to the write-up in this paper, complete with probabilistic analysis and computer simulation, the answer is yes. I've hijacked the link from BoingBoing.
Are you depressed? A federal task force recommended that all adults be screened for depression during regular visits with their doctors, noting that many cases are mistreated and as many as half of all cases are missed.
No Profiling, No Saftey? ...to placate special interest groups that fear profiling will result in widespread racial or religious discrimination, authorities are imposing screening quotas that are unlikely to thwart a future terrorist attack. They should be doing the very opposite by creating more sophisticated profiling systems that catch real criminals. Is it really "damned if they do, damned if they don't" or is there a better way?
A Congressman gets debriefed. In other news, lawmakers finally reap what they sow.