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A Tale of Two Data Scientists

March 25, 2021 • Posted in Blog

 

Neil Ferguson, Ph.D. Infamous Graph Youyang Gu

 

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

It was a long year ago (March 2020) that a dire prediction was issued by a group at Imperial College London (UK) regarding the possible effects of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The model predicted more than 500,000 UK deaths, and >2.2 million deaths in the U.S. by summer if no action were taken. One of the data scientists issuing that proclamation was Neil Ferguson, Ph.D. He and his group advised the government that “in the UK and US context, suppression will minimally require a combination of social distancing of the entire ...read more

Is It Science or Scientism?

February 28, 2021 • Posted in Blog

Joyce Shelton, Ph.D. Professor of Biology, Trinity International University Guest Column

In the climate of fear, uncertainty and urgency engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is often difficult to know what to do or whom to trust. Public policy makers are daily making decisions and enacting rules that affect our lives and dictate our actions in the name of protection. They lend authority and justification to their decisions by claiming that they are following the science, implying that this appeal to a trusted, rational voice should be enough to calm our concerns and guarantee our compliance. But the elevation of science to the ...read more

A Project for Our Time

September 30, 2020 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

The responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have been by turns dramatic and disconcerting, and, at times, draconian. I read about Steve Reiter’s deplorable experience and his new project in a BreakPoint commentary in July, and he was kind enough to speak with me by telephone on 24 July.

Steve’s beloved wife, Elizabeth, had diagnoses of lupus and pulmonary hypertension, among other difficulties. She had had a lengthy hospitalization in 2014, but had recovered. Steve attributes her recovery to excellent medical care and the 24/7 presence of her family. She had a Hickman line placed, and Steve ...read more

When Breath Is (Not Enough) Air: Let’s Talk about Ventilators

June 11, 2020 • Posted in Blog

There has been much public discussion about ventilators amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It is humbling to consider that we, or someone we love, might require one. Most people know something about the benefit of a ventilator when needed; but how well do we really understand the functions and risks of mechanical ventilation? The pandemic presents an opportune time to learn about this. So I posed a series of questions about these machines and the processes involved in using them to a physician, who is a specialist in using ventilators to treat very ill patients. Those questions, and her answers, follow.  

1) ...read more

When the Foundations Are Wobbling, Part II

May 22, 2020 • Posted in Blog

 

Death Certificates and COVID-19

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

One of the tasks assigned to physicians is the completion of death certificates—at least, the portion of death certificates that list cause of death (COD). I learned the importance of accuracy of death certificate completion as a pathology student fellow, an extra year of pathology training in the middle of my medical school career. We were instructed never to use the mechanism of death, such as cardiac or respiratory arrest, as a cause of death. Additionally, the use of terms like “probable” or “suspected” were not allowed. After all, the goal of ...read more