An analysis of 10,000 scientific studies on marijuana concretely supports only three medical benefits — Quartz

  • Helps chronic pain in adults
  • Lessens chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
  • Relieves some symptoms of multiple sclerosis
  • Worsens respiratory problems, such as chronic bronchitis episodes
  • Motor-vehicle accidents
  • Low birth weight in babies
  • Schizophrenia or other psychoses

Source: An analysis of 10,000 scientific studies on marijuana concretely supports only three medical benefits — Quartz

Doctors Without Borders Refuses Vaccines from Pfizer – The Atlantic

The climax of a standoff with the pharmaceutical industry over high prices

The actual problem with vaccines is cost and access.

Of course, the doctors do see donations as valuable—simply not worth the costs in this context, which transcends seemingly straightforward philanthropy and medical science.

cost is the fundamental issue to Jason Cone, the executive director of Doctors Without Borders in the United States. He explained that donations from pharmaceutical companies are ineffective against a problem of this scale. While the donation would benefit people under the care of Doctors Without Borders immediately, accepting it could mean problems for others, and problems longer-term. Donations, he writes, are “often used as a way to make others ‘pay up.’ By giving the pneumonia vaccine away for free, pharmaceutical corporations can use this as justification for why prices remain high for others, including other humanitarian organizations and developing countries that also can’t afford the vaccine.”

Source: Doctors Without Borders Refuses Vaccines from Pfizer – The Atlantic

Flesh-Eating Worms Have Returned to Florida – The Atlantic

The USDA and its partners maintain an invisible but permanent sterile fly barrier at the Darien Gap. What this means is that every week, airplanes fly over the Darien Gap, dropping sterile males by the millions to keep screwworms out of North and Central America.

The permanent sterile fly barrier just underscores the mind-boggling work it takes to not just eradicate an insect from a country, but to keep it away forever.

Increased trade with Cuba might have brought the little buggers back.

If the U.S. continues to open up trade and travel with Cuba, the screwworm is likely to cross those few hundred miles of ocean again. The best thing to do, says Hendrichs, is partner with Cubans to eradicate screwworms in their country, too. Screwworms don’t care about international relations, but they’ll exploit any holes in it to survive.

Source: Flesh-Eating Worms Have Returned to Florida – The Atlantic

Soylent Is Healthier Than the Average North American Diet – The Atlantic

Soylent Is healthier than the average North American diet. And that’s embarrassing.

It’s also cheaper. Much cheaper—just over $200 for a month’s-worth, even at the current small scale of production, whereas the average American spends about $600 per month on food.

So Soylent is more healthy than junk food. Does that mean we should all replace our meals with “meal replacements”? Of course not. That Soylent is healthier is more of an indictment of our broken lifestyles than it is a reason to slurp sludge, day after day. “Better than junk food” is a low bar to set, but no lower than our standards for anything else we put in our mouths.

Source: How Healthy Is Soylent? – The Atlantic

Wealth, Health, and Child Development: Evidence from Administrative Data on Swedish Lottery Players

In our intergenerational analyses, we find that wealth increases children’s health care utilization in the years following the lottery and may also reduce obesity risk. The effects on most other child outcomes, including drug consumption, scholastic performance, and skills, can usually be bounded to a tight interval around zero. Overall, our findings suggest that in affluent countries with extensive social safety nets, causal effects of wealth are not a major source of the wealth-mortality gradients, nor of the observed relationships between child developmental outcomes and household income.

Source: Wealth, Health, and Child Development: Evidence from Administrative Data on Swedish Lottery Players

The “Food Babe” Blogger Is Full of Shit

Vani Hari, AKA the Food Babe, has amassed a loyal following in her Food Babe Army. … She and her army are out to change the world.

She’s also utterly full of shit.

Source: The “Food Babe” Blogger Is Full of Shit


It is illegal to poison someone in order to sell them an antidote. However, you can legally instill fear and uncertainty in people for any reason you like, including in order to sell them *more fear and uncertainty*.

Infant Mortality

The ethical issues that come with crowdfunded healthcare

To choose one, though, also means to choose it over all the others.

Who, out of all the people who have shared their tragedy on the Internet, is the most deserving of money?

the most pressing ethical question surrounding medical crowdfunding is not the inequalities it illuminates, or how donors choose who to fund, or how sites choose who to host—it’s why the practice has become necessary in the first place.

Source: Is It Fair to Ask the Internet to Pay Your Hospital Bill? – The Atlantic


From comments:

Perhaps the phrase of most interest to me in the whole article was “necessary care.” Who defines it, and who should? And does an extremely expensive procedure with a middling chance of success for a child with an extremely rare genetic disease count? This question may reveal the true utility of crowdfunding campaigns–not that they pay for “necessary care,” but that they can be used to pay for extraordinary care that doesn’t meet any objective cost-benefit analysis. They’re an opportunity to say “help me because you love me/ sympathize/ find my story compelling,” even if the procedure can’t be justified as “necessary” in a way that means society as a whole should cover the tab involuntarily.

— Disqus commenter EBennetDarcy



In the 1850s, the infant mortality rate in the United States was estimated at 216.8 per 1,000 babies born for whites and 340.0 per 1,000 for African Americans
— Wikipedia “Infant_mortality” from Sullivan, A., Sheffrin, S. (2003) Economics: Principles in Action, Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-063085-3

That rate is from more than 1-in-5 to over a third of children born, dying before they turned 5 years old.

The US infant mortality rate at 6.1 is now called “a national embarrassment” by the Washington Post.
Our infant mortality rate is a national embarrassment – The Washington Post

The US Federal CDC lists the number of live births in the US as just under 4 million.
FastStats – Births and Natality –

With 4 million births and an infant mortality rate of 6.1, that works out to 24,400 children born last year dying within the following 5 years.

Finland has their rate down to 2.3 though, so we could presumably cut that figure to only 9,200. If we could save half of those (so 4,600 infants) for $250,000 each, then saving their lives would cost $1.15 billion dollars. At $1 million each the total cost would be $4.6 billion.

Paying for exceptional care for exceptional cases does cost an exceptionally large amount per case. However, *because* of their rarity, I don’t think this is as bad as it seems like at first blush/consideration (usually comparing such staggering figures to the annual incomes of normal people).

My opinion is that we can afford this, and should, and a national / universal / single-payer health system (through “insurance”, federally managed/administered, or whatever) would accomplish this. It would be a far better use of the funds than [insert government thing you don’t like here; I’ll pick the F-35].

A hundred and fifty years ago, the only option was “too bad, try again”. We can and should do better now, for everyone.

What Anti-Vaxxers Are Doing to Us | The American Conservative

Doctors have warned for some time that the anti-vaxxers are putting us all at risk by eliminating herd immunity from common childhood diseases, and now, with measles, it’s happening.

In case you’re tempted to think this is just a weirdo California thing, it’s not.

I think it is time to consider legal action at the federal level to compel vaccination. I don’t know what the limits on federal law should be, but what we have now is not working. Again, if somebody wanted to take the risk of measles, pertussis, and so forth upon themselves, I would respect their right to be foolish. I have a much more difficult time respecting their right to subject their children to these diseases in the absence of scientific grounds for it, but I could be persuaded that respecting the parents’ right in this matter is important.

What I cannot accept is that these people, acting without any scientific grounds for their belief, are putting everybody else, and everybody else’s children, at medical risk (there is a small but nontrivial chance that you will acquire the disease even if you have been vaccinated).

this is not a matter of being intolerant of an unpopular opinion; this is a matter of preserving public health from a serious communicable disease, one with potentially grave complications. It’s a matter of what we can afford to tolerate for the sake of the common good.

Source: What Anti-Vaxxers Are Doing to Us | The American Conservative