Flat Earthers, like their creationist brethren, are wrong

Amazingly, in 2019 in the U.S. there are flat earth believers. They were wrong in Galileo’s time and are still wrong.

“The ancient Greeks knew that the world is round; observing the Earth’s shadow during a lunar eclipse, as Aristotle noted, makes it pretty clear. There were other hints that, whatever shape the Earth might be, it couldn’t be flat: As a sailing ship sails over the horizon, its hull disappears from view first; then its sails, and the top of its mast last of all.”

and

“And yet, a survey conducted last spring found that a solid 16 percent of Americans aren’t sure of the Earth’s shape—with flat-Earth support running highest among millennials and those with lower incomes. The doubters have a smattering of celebrities and self-promoters on their side, from rapper B.o.B. and NBA basketball star Kyrie Irving to amateur rocketeer Mike Hughes, who last year launched himself about 1,875 feet into the air in a homemade rocket and parachuted back to Earth.”

Medicynical Note: Antivaxxers, flat earthers, creationists, climate change deniers, old earth deniers all seem part of the same simplistic reasoning.

The science behind the rejection of science is still in its infancy, though much work on conspiratorial thinking has been done since the time of the Kennedy assassination (when such theories spiked noticeably). The political scientist Michael Barkun lists three key factors behind the appeal of conspiratorial thinking: First, such theories make sense of an otherwise confusing world. Second—in keeping with what Wertheim observed—they offer simplicity and especially moral clarity, dividing the world sharply into good and evil, right and wrong. Finally, they allow the believer to identify as part of a privileged, enlightened minority, as champions of reason amid the unenlightened, brainwashed masses. (This was surely as true in Rowbotham’s time as it is now; had the word “sheeple” been in vogue in Victorian England, I imagine he’d have embraced it.) “Confirmation bias”—the tendency to absorb evidence that appears to support one’s position, and dismiss evidence that doesn’t—almost certainly plays a role; as does the Dunning-Kruger effect, in which people who know rather little about a subject come to believe that they’re extraordinarily well informed. 

The scary question to me is whether a government that falls victim to a culture of denial of facts for political reasons can long survive.

Insulin: US “generic” prices still double Europe

Lilly has been gouging diabetics for years with regular increases in the price of their Humalog insulin. The company responding to deaths of diabetic patients who couldn’t afford insulin recently released a “generic.” Unfortunately it still priced the medication at twice the price negotiated in European countries.

“But they might well keep these two thoughts in mind: If the product being sold was electricity or gas for your car, a price rise of more than 600 percent over 15 years would be regarded as price gouging and wouldn’t be tolerated. And in Germany and many other developed countries, there is no need for a $137.50 vial of “authorized generic” for Humalog. At around $50 a vial, Humalog as Humalog costs far less.

Medicynical Note: Drug companies learned in the 90’s that sales of vital medications are price insensitive–i.e. desperate people will pay whatever is demanded, and doubly so if most of the cost is covered by insurance. As a result there has been a price inflation in the US (median income about $60,000) such that new cancer drugs are priced at $10,000 or more/month and recently a new anti depressive for post Parton depression is priced at $34,000 for the treatment alone. Which is more than the cost of normal deliveries and most c-sections.

The 600% price increase of Humalog insulin over 15 years may seem less significant than the above numbers because we are talking hundreds rather than thousands of dollars/month. Except that, to live, diabetics take the medication every day for the rest of their lives which may span years to decades depending on when the disease manifested itself. Without it they will die. The recent decrease as reported while a positive development, still leaves the price of the drug much higher than elsewhere.

That Americans pay more for health care and get less in services than anyother country in the world is a very special form of stupidity.

The Mother Lode–New drug for Postpartum depression

The first drug for women suffering postpartum depression received federal approval on Tuesday, a move likely to pave the way for a wave of treatments to address a debilitating condition that is the most common complication of pregnancy.”

“The drug works very quickly, within 48 hours — a significant improvement over currently available antidepressants, which can take two to four weeks to have an effect, if they work at all.”

Medicynical note: but the price of the drug ($34,000) alone exceeds the cost of an entire pregnancy and delivery. American medicine at its be$t.

I Guess global Warming affects More than Just the Blue States

More intense storms can occur anywhere

“When last week’s bomb cyclone hit the Midwest, it was hard to imagine the inundation it could bring amid whiteout conditions and more than a foot of snow. But the warm weather that wrapped in behind it quickly melted out all that white stuff and unleashed historic flooding across parts of Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, and Missouri.”

Medicynical note: Climate change has never happened before with 7 billion plus people on earth and at risk. It’s happening now as was predicted in 1956 because, in part, CO2 from human activities is accumulating in the atmosphere. It’s not gods will nor a natural variation. We have a choice, try to do something to ameliorate it or take our chances on trying to adapt. There are and will be many social, political, agricultural, medical and economic consequences.

No Effective Outside Regulator= Profit taking precedence over safety

Not good for Boeing or for safety

“The safety analysis:”

  • Understated the power of the new flight control system, which was designed to swivel the horizontal tail to push the nose of the plane down to avert a stall. When the planes later entered service, MCAS was capable of moving the tail more than four times farther than was stated in the initial safety analysis document.
  • Failed to account for how the system could reset itself each time a pilot responded, thereby missing the potential impact of the system repeatedly pushing the airplane’s nose downward.
  • Assessed a failure of the system as one level below “catastrophic.” But even that “hazardous” danger level should have precluded activation of the system based on input from a single sensor — and yet that’s how it was designed.

“The people who spoke to The Seattle Times and shared details of the safety analysis all spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their jobs at the FAA and other aviation organizations.”

“Both Boeing and the FAA were informed of the specifics of this story and were asked for responses 11 days ago, before the second crash of a 737 MAX last Sunday

Presidential thoughts for Sunday March 17 2019

Deep thinker at work

Beginning at 8 am, Donald Trump put up no fewer than 30 tweets on Sunday. Busy guy! Here are the subjects that are obsessing him at the moment: click here

It’s worth noting that two of Trump’s tweets were actually retweets of Jack Posobiec, a lunatic conspiracy theorist who helped promote the pizzagate fable among many, many others.

Medicynical note: We’ll all sleep better tonight knowing this.

“Self”-certification process for new planes Is Wrong

Boeing certified the MAX 8 without oversight from the FAA

“In October 2017, Brazilian regulators flew to Miami to test out the brand-new Boeing 737 Max 8. The team scrutinized the sleek new jetliner’s flight systems and soon published a list of over 60 operational changes, from landing systems to cockpit displays, that Brazilian pilots would need to learn.”

“Among the new features regulators said pilots would have to familiarize themselves with was the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, a safety system that could nose the plane downward if it sensed a potential stall. The regulators mandated an interactive course for pilots to go over the changes and recommended “two legs of SLF,” or supervised flight, according to a copy of their report obtained by The Washington Post.”

“In those same months, the Federal Aviation Administration was making its final revision to a 53-page report that would make up the backbone of Max 8 training guidelines for pilots across the United States and in almost every other country around the world.”

“It did not once mention the anti-stall system, according to a copy reviewed by The Post.”

Medicynical Note: Self Certification is a little like having your parents hiring someone to correct your college entrance exams and write your college application essay . Good ole American fudging……..except that this lack of oversight probably killed over 300 people in six months.