Archive for category They call it public policy

Vitamin D. What now!!!!

Posted by on Wednesday, 1 December, 2010



Not that long ago, the well respected journal, Science Ain’t So Bad, wrote an article about vitamin D (IF YOU ONLY TOOK ONE PILL, WHAT WOULD IT BE?) It was a fine article. Thoughtful, carefully researched, and well balanced. It weighed the available information which boiled down to it’s being a pretty good idea for most people to take some vitamin D. Especially if they don’t get  much sun.  SASB’s article quoted  Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health who felt that 1000 IU might be a decent dose.

Today’s paper had a new report from a panel of  the Institute of Medicine which dismissed all that unscientific crapola about how D’s good fer this ‘n good fer that. Let’s stay focused, the panel said, on what we really know. Most people do get enough of the stuff for their bones. Let’s not get crazy, said the panel.

Now what?

What you’re watching is the Ballet de Science. In Act I you saw the advocates on stage. They were all excited about the results of numerous studies, many of them preliminary, that seemed to show a) that many people are kinda deficient in the “sunshine” vitamin and b) vitamin D offers protection against lots of bad stuff.


Now we’re watching Act II. In this act, some fancy panel reviews all the data, gets  huffy about the some of the more outlandish claims, and sounds alarmed about the ever increasing minimum requirements which were up to 5000 IU according to some authorities.

Here’s the thing. Some elements in the “scientific community” are conservative, others are bold.  The pendulum swings.

What now?

Was all that stuff about stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, depression, pain, and – was it acne? – nonsense? Probably not. But, as the public got more interested in vitamin D, so did food producers. It’s showing up in a lot of the things we’re eating. If you’re getting it in your cereal AND swallowing pills, it really could be too much. And, while there’s no great evidence that high doses of D are bad, there are hints. Besides, there IS such a thing as too much of anything. Yer not gonna take a WHOLE bottle of aspirin for a headache, are you?

MISTER ScienceAintSoBad‘s not sure either, but the suggested guidelines from the panel aren’t all that far from what readers of this blog have believed were reasonable anyway (showing how smart you are to stay tuned to this channel). Maybe a little common sense and moderation works here as it does in most things. If you’re a senior citizen or live up north (or live down south but work nights or are a vampire – let’s not forget vampires) take some D but don’t be a nut case. A few hundred IUs are probably enough in most cases. Just be reasonable. OK?

Attribution for above image (as modified by Science Ain’t So Bad) : By U.S. Navy photo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Shoot! What A Smelly Landfill!

Posted by on Sunday, 28 March, 2010



Several cities are toying with changing their names to Google to see if that’ll land ’em ultrafast Internet.

Bejing, the Capital of China isn’t one of them.

But its good name IS being sullied by big piles of smelly garbage. Bejingers toss  out roughly 18,000 tons of garbage each day.

It’s out of space for garbage.

The 17 million neo-capitalists there are putting out 7,000 tons a day more than the dumps.. uh, ‘scuse moi!, .. the landfills can accommodate. It will be about 30,000 years before their garabage covers the whole land area of the earth, so we’re most worried about those of you who live nearby. Specially if you breathe.

One of the dump.. uh.. landfills is so bad that the social minded people of that area have, supposedly, taken to walking around holding each OTHERS noses.

Anyway, the government’s gonna do something about it.


According to Discover, they’re deploying a hundred specialized cannons to the site and the specialized cannons will be shooting out specialized deodorant which will, according to theory, mask, disguise, confound, and hide the odors from the landfill.

MISTER ScienceAin’tSoBad believes that this is science at its best. Creative, bold, AND public spirited. Sadly, the experts, say the leaders are a bunch of schmucks and that this little trick won’t work.

Oh well..

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 1

Smokers Are Dumb, Dumb, Dumb!

Posted by on Monday, 1 March, 2010

Smarter Folks Doesn't Smokes


What’s science GOOD for, you may ask?

I dunno, I may answer.

But maybe it could serve to humiliate people  who are already miserable and make them feel worse.

A (smug and self satisfied?) study led by Dr. Mark Weiser (Sheba Medical Center) concludes that the higher your IQ, the less likely you are to smoke.

MISTER ScienceAintSoBad appreciates the underlying reality here. This is a painful piece of science but – yeah – indulging in self destructive behavior probably ISN’T gonna correlate with the biggest, bestest brains. But should research dollars be used to rub it in?

To be fair, a better understanding of the factors that lead a person to smoke may help researchers understand how to effectively combat it. So we’ll give the benefit of the doubt to Weiser and assume his motives were pure.

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 6 for a well intentioned study that we would like to see replicated somewhere else before conceding the point.

And, no, MISTER ScienceAintSoBad isn’t and never did smoke cigarettes or the like and is not being defensive.

Just nice.

For a change.

Politics: SO Rigorous. SO Logical.

Posted by on Tuesday, 23 February, 2010

Jabber, Jabber, Jabber

Test: How is political debate different from science?

I will pick up your papers at the end of the class. I don’t want you looking at anyone else’s answers.

Smoking: Now The Tough Cases

Posted by on Tuesday, 16 February, 2010

What's left?


But you already KNEW that, didn’t you.

Of course you did.

Who, other than teenagers, is unaware that smoking ruins your heart, destroys your lungs, wrinkles your skin, and makes you look sophisticated.

Did I say that?

Anyway,you know it’s really, really bad for you and if you could quit, you already did.

Some people are tall and some are short. Some have REALLY blue eyes and some have watery, squinty brown eyes. And, although I’m “just guessing” here, almost surely, some people find it easy to quit and some find it really hard.

MISTER ScienceAintSoBad doesn’t want to discourage you from trying, of course, but, if you’re still a smoker after years of trying not to be, you CAN stop beating up on yourself . You’re one of the unlucky ones who finds it very, very hard.

As the President often says, if it were easy, he would have done it already. Ask him about HIS cigs.

Unless you’re a moron who just started in which case you SHOULD feel free to beat up on yourself plus I’m cancelling your subscription to Science Ain’t So Bad. You can go read somebody ELSE’S blog till you get your head on straight.

An article in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology describes some treatments that do seem to work – even, to some extent, for the hard cases. And it talks about some of the segments of the population that’re the most resistant.  Course it tends to cluster people by what kind of mental disorder they have.

Don’t get all huffy if you read it. Keep in mind that this is the work of psychologists. If the study had been done by engineers,  ease of quitting would, no doubt, have been clustered by type of smartphone.

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 5

It’s a useful study if all it does is to remind us that quitting’s harder for some than for others.