Mini-Troughput: The HCQ, Hydroxychloroquine Reloaded

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Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He is on Twitter, blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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15 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    Back in my young earth creationist days, one of the things we got into over and over again was stuff like pointing to the actual transcripts of the Scopes Monkey Trial and Inherit the Wind.

    “If this was Science!, then why did Science! need to lie?”, they asked us.

    It’s a good question. Rhetorically, I mean. The answer is somewhat complex and it involves confusing two (or more) groups of people and sweeping all of them together and all kinds of other little tricks. It’s an answer that takes a while to give.

    Anyway, it looks to me that the people who were reporting this sort of thing had goals that were easily gamed by companies inclined to game them.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      No group is perfect. There will always be errors and bad actors. What matters is how the group as a whole responds to the errors and bad actors.

      Science… to the extent it is a singular group… tends to respond well to both.Report

      • Avatar Philip H in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        Remember cold fusion?Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Philip H
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          says:

          No. Enlighten me.Report

          • Avatar Philip H in reply to Kazzy
            Ignored
            says:

            In 1989, the scientific world was turned upside down when two researchers announced they had tamed the power of nuclear fusion in a simple electrolysis cell. The excitement quickly died when the scientific community came to a consensus that the findings weren’t real—“cold fusion” became a synonym for junk science. In the quarter-century since, a surprising number of researchers continue to report unexplainable excess heat effects in similar experiments, and several companies have announced plans to commercialize technologies, hoping to revolutionize the energy industry. Yet, no one has delivered on their promises. In the pages that follow, C&EN explores several possible conclusions: The claims are correct, but need more time to develop; those making the claims are committing an elaborate ruse; or it really is junk science that won’t go away.

            https://cen.acs.org/articles/94/i44/Cold-fusion-died-25-years.htmlReport

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      Back in my young earth creationist days

      Now there’s an opening you don’t see every day.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Philip H
        Ignored
        says:

        I wrote an essay about it a million years ago.

        It’s one of the things that I experienced as a kid that colors how I see things today.

        If I wanted to spin it positively, I’d say that it’s given me memetic antibodies against a handful of things.

        If I wanted to spin it negatively, I’d say that it’s given me memetic antibodies against things that, seriously, I should actively want as part of my new and improved memetic system.Report

  2. Avatar Aaron David
    Ignored
    says:

    I absolutly agree that watching SCIENCE!! in real time is quite different than what we see in a film adaptation of a Crichton book. It is slow, it is frustrating, it is two steps forward and three steps back more than half the time. But, I do have one simple questions (that I am not really asking you, but in general)…

    Why? As we watch this whole thing unravel (again, in real time) who whould have done this?And why? This isn’t a question that science (exclamation point or not) can answer. Because, as you say, this drug could have been a real boon to the corona virus fight.Report

  3. Avatar Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    “The Lancet HCQ study, among others, uses data provided by Surgisphere. What is Surgisphere? Well, no one seems to know. It’s a small company with 5 to 11 employees, only one of whom has a science background.”

    Gee, maybe part of the problem is that the Lancet, allegedly well respected, used data from a tiny company with one scientist. What ever happened to peer review and such? I’d thing the folks at the Lancet would be questioning this small company even before beginning to review the data….in like “how did you come by this data”?

    And while we’re on the subject, doesn’t “science” still have a problem with the reproduceability of studies in all major fields? This incident will only further the nefarious assumptions of the public. Nice job Lancet.Report

  4. Avatar Oscar Gordon
    Ignored
    says:

    But this is a somewhat cocaine-binge version of how we do it…

    QFT

    To be honest, the problem is not the cocaine binge, it’s the fact that policy is being made and executed based upon the utterances of those currently bingeing *.

    And if that isn’t one for Murali’s Bad Analogy Takes Twitter feed…Report

  5. Avatar George Turner
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    says:

    As the Amazing Randi always said, “Scientists are easier to fool than children.” Unlike suspicious folks at a circus, they don’t go in with the suspicion that the other scientist is a con-artist who has cleverly rigged the experimental equipment, or that the test subjects are in on the act, or that the data is a ruse.Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to George Turner
      Ignored
      says:

      That’s because 99% of the time the other scientists aren’t rigging equipment or test subjects or willfully rusing with bad data. Our normal professional processes do catch that 1% variance and generally keep it smacked down. Even here, the system mostly worked – the Guardian’s analysis came along side others beginning to ask questions. In prior times, we would have seen the journals eventually publish a retraction because the real scientists would have uncovered it.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Philip H
        Ignored
        says:

        Yes, months or years later….and the press coverage of the correction will get 1/10 of the coverage that the original report got. Just like newspaper corrections.Report

        • Avatar Mr.Joe in reply to Damon
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          says:

          Let me know when you figure out how to get the press to properly assess… um well anything. Until then remember the press sucks and let the scientists science.Report

          • Avatar Damon in reply to Mr.Joe
            Ignored
            says:

            Here’s a start for the news: Report the facts ONLY. Editorials belong on the editorial pages, not within “news reports”.

            The scientists can science all they want….but maybe they should, hmm, be more concerned about the getting the same results from repeating their tests before they go to the press and brag about breakthroughs.Report

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