Monthly Archives: January 2017


Some of the more useful drugs are a product of “traditional medicine”. Colchicine for gout, digitalis, aspirin. The best current drug for falciparum malaria is the result of project 523, where the PLA (at the request of Ho Chi Minh) … Continue reading

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Turok of the North

Recently a paper by Justin Sandefur came up with a way of calibrating the results of a math test taken by a number of African countries that don’t participate in PISA and other international assessments – from overlapping questions, and … Continue reading

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There exists a weird kind of cancer called a teratoma, whose cells seem to think that they are in an embryo. These cancers differentiate; develop hair, teeth, skin, all manner of messy things. They exist in humans and animals. Some … Continue reading

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The Marching Morons

There’s a new paper out on how the frequency of variants that affect educational achievement (which also affect IQ) have been changing over time in Iceland. Naturally, things are getting worse. We don’t have all those variants identified yet, but … Continue reading

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The effectiveness of unreasonable physicists

Now and then physicists have invaded other fields with success, sometimes embarrassing the natives. For example, Max Delbruck and the phage group, Crick and DNA, Seymour Benzer, Walter Gilbert, Alvarez and the K-T extinction, etc. But sometimes it doesn’t turn … Continue reading

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Dodging a bullet

Back in the 1950s, Sabin and Salk developed polio vaccines. Salk’s vaccine was inactivated. Sabin’s vaccine was live, but used a weakened strain, strong enough to cause an immune reaction, but weak enough not to cause polio. The live version … Continue reading

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Freedom of medicine

There are people that think that we could have much faster medical progress via a basically libertarian approach: decrease or abolish government regulation of drug development. Or permit companies to market new drugs without first proving that they work. Nutritional … Continue reading

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Every now and then a group secedes from general society and goes its own way. Sometimes they end up living a very different kind of life. Less often, that different way of life persists. I’m thinking of the Puritans, the … Continue reading

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Islam and the Americas

I was thinking about the Islamic response to the discovery of the Americas. As far as I can tell, there wasn’t any. They absorbed new crops like maize, and new diseases like syphilis, but I can’t think of a case … Continue reading

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