Wednesday Links

1. A court has been called to rule on whether a wealthy guru is dead or in a transcendental meditative state. (the culture that is India)

  1. Oldy, but interesting: A report on a clinical trial of quack medication for cancer.

This is interesting:

It was originally conceived as a randomized, controlled trial comparing the “Gonzalez Regimen” to standard chemotherapy for cancer of the pancreas. In the first year, however, only 2 subjects had been accrued, purportedly because those seeking Gonzalez’s treatment were not willing to risk random assignment to the chemotherapy arm.

We often think that the ethical issue with randomized trials is that it assigns some people to a useless placebo, but here the problem is that people refused to get the medication and demanded the placebo.

For me this also undermines much of the dicussion of ethics in that post (but not the interestingness of the story). Perhaps studying this was against ethical rules, but not it is not so clear what was unethical in the sense of immoral.

3. I will be in Leuven in September

4. An algorithm makes it to the board of a company

5. Anti-science propaganda on your yogurts

The bit about “evaporated cane juice” is not specific to this company, though. Many many products use this euphemism for sugar. I also agree with Derek Lowe

The slogan itself is annoying, but what gets me more are the attitudes behind it. First, of course, is the “Science = icky” assumption, which seems to be just taken for granted by whoever wrote this thing. Its author also trusted everyone who read it to make the same connection, which isn’t too comforting, either.

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