Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for September 21st, 2012

The corruption of medicine

Posted by Charles II on September 21, 2012

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian:

In 2010, researchers from Harvard and Toronto found all the trials looking at five major classes of drug – antidepressants, ulcer drugs and so on – then measured two key features: were they positive, and were they funded by industry? They found more than 500 trials in total: 85% of the industry-funded studies were positive, but only 50% of the government-funded trials were. In 2007, researchers looked at every published trial that set out to explore the benefits of a statin. These cholesterol-lowering drugs reduce your risk of having a heart attack and are prescribed in very large quantities. This study found 192 trials in total, either comparing one statin against another, or comparing a statin against a different kind of treatment. They found that industry-funded trials were 20 times more likely to give results favouring the test drug.

These are frightening results, but they come from individual studies. So let’s consider systematic reviews into this area. In 2003, two were published. They took all the studies ever published that looked at whether industry funding is associated with pro-industry results, and both found that industry-funded trials were, overall, about four times more likely to report positive results. A further review in 2007 looked at the new studies in the intervening four years: it found 20 more pieces of work, and all but two showed that industry-sponsored trials were more likely to report flattering results.

Selective publication probably accounts for most of this. But Goldacre is too kind. When a researcher is faced with the prospect of not getting his work published if s/he finds a drug is ineffective, then there is direct pressure to find that the drug is effective. Sometimes, there’s outright intimidation of researchers.

You can read more about reboxetine here. The drug does not work. It produces side effects. It is on the market. Its manufacturers, Pfizer and Lundbeck never published the data that did not make the drug look good.

There’s more, but the message is clear. The drug approval process has been corrupted. The testing process needs to be taken out of the hands of the drug companies.

Posted in abuse of power, science and medicine, working the refs | Comments Off on The corruption of medicine

Why, hello there, Megan McArdle!

Posted by Charles II on September 21, 2012

Via Ritholtz, and Yves a review of the career of Atlantic/Newsweek/Daily Beast columnist Megan McArdle by Yasha Levine and Mark Ames of Project S.H.A.M.E. .

The part I found most interesting:

* McArdle received journalism training from the right-wing Institute for Humane Studies, headed by Charles Koch since the 1960s. According to the IHS, its journalism program “places talented writers and communicators—who support individual liberty, free markets, and peace—at media companies and non-profit newsrooms”...
* In 2011, McArdle returned to her Koch alma mater as a guest lecturer and instructor at the Institute for Humane Studies’ “Journalism & the Free Society” summer internship program. The program tackled such topics as “Is an ‘objective’ press possible — or even desirable?” Other faculty members joining McArdle that year included Radley Balko, then-editor at the Kochs’ Reason magazine
* In a sign of just how close and trusted McArdle is to the Kochs, in October 2011, she was chosen to emcee Charles Koch’s 50th Anniversary gala celebration of his flagship libertarian think-tank, the Institute for Humane Studies, featuring Charles Koch as the keynote speaker and guest of honor. McArdle and Koch were joined by hundreds of leading GOP donors and activists….The IHS attempted to hide McArdle’s involvement, scrubbing her name from the dinner announcement page. (emphases added)

There’s more on McArdle’s comic career, her dishonesty and hypocrisy, but the point is that she’s paid, trained, and placed by the true heirs of Lenin, Charles and David Koch for the purpose of inserting propaganda into public discourse. She is an apparatchik. And The Atlantic, The Economist, Newsweek, and The Daily Beast have all been used as tools of dissemination.

Project S.H.A.M.E. describes itself as follows:

The S.H.A.M.E. Media Transparency Project takes the war against corporate trolls and media shills to a new and more effective level. Its goal is to expose corrupt media figures, document journalistic fraud and make life a little harder for covert propagandists who manipulate the public, degrade our democracy and help perpetuate oligarchy power.

S.H.A.M.E. was inspired by our readers and donors, who are tired of the rampant media fraud and deception, and want some way to fight back and reclaim our democracy.

The purpose of S.H.A.M.E. is not to merely document media crimes, nor simply to humiliate or call out hypocrisy. The project is about providing useful, fun and effective tools the public can use to protect itself from being manipulated by sophisticated public relations con-artistry.

Think of S.H.A.M.E. as a kind of roach trap for media shills and corporate lackeys.

Posted in koch brothers, Media machine, mediawhores, propaganda, Republicans as cancer | Comments Off on Why, hello there, Megan McArdle!

Which Candidate Would Be Better for America’s Prestige?

Posted by MEC on September 21, 2012

Would our country be more respected with Barack Obama or Mitt Romney in the White House?

I think the answer to that is “not the candidate whose party is bluntly criticized by members of other governments”.

The Australian treasurer, Wayne Swan, in an unusually blunt criticism of US politics weeks before the presidential election, said “cranks and crazies” had taken over the Republicans and posed the biggest threat to the world’s largest economy.

Swan, one of few world leaders able to boast his country had avoided recession during the global financial crisis, also labelled the Tea Party wing of the Republicans as “extreme”.

(Emphasis mine.)

I wish more people in the U.S. could see what the people outside our borders can see so clearly. The Republicans are just plain too crazy to be trusted with government.

Posted in 2012, Republicans | 6 Comments »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on September 21, 2012

Alexander “helps” me make the bed. Notice that his tummy fur is growing back, but the pink skin still shows through.

Friday Cat Blogging

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 5 Comments »

 
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