Science Literacy

I was reading through some blogs this weekend and came across two unrelated blogs that discussed the same topic: literacy; specifically, science and health literacy.

The first, entitled, “40% of Indian Women Are Ignorant of AIDS” from Retrospectacle, made a nice tie-in from the press release to literacy in India.

“Disturbing, but not really surprising considering only 54 percent of Indian women are literate (compared to 76 percent of men). Actually the literacy rate seems to play a huge part in the disinformation: 80% of Indian men are familiar with AIDS (76% literacy rate) and 56% of Indian women are (54% literacy rate).”
The second post I noted was from Scientific American, describing the growth of science literacy in the US. “Americans more science-literate than Japanese, Europeans,” points out the following:

“In 1988 only about 10 percent knew enough about science to understand reports in major newspapers, a figure that grew to 28 percent by 2005.
So, this suggests that 72% of Americans can’t understand what they’re reading in health and science media reports. Striking, no?
The fact that so many Americans are missing vital information could account a great deal towards the cost of health care in the US today. How can an Indian women who is ignorant about AIDS protect herself from acquiring it? How can an unhealthy young adult make changes to their lifestyle if they’re unable to understand what changes to make. It doesn’t help that on top of poor understanding of science, Americans are being overwhelmed by over-simplified advertising from both food and drug companies.
I will suggest that perhaps health care reform should not begin with tax credits, but rather through a literacy campaign. There is tremendous room for improvement.

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Planet of the Apes, here we come!

Every so often, I read something that makes me all kinds of excited. Today, I learned of chimpanzees using a spear to hunt.
It seems this group of chimps, specifically, the younger females, cleared a branch of leaves, fashioned the end to a point, and hunted some little lemur type creatures by spearing them on the stick. This is the first time non-humans have been shown to use tools for hunting. Wow!
Planning for the Future
It seems the Srub-Jay, a small bird, has an awesome memory. It can store and keep track of over 30,000 different caches of food. It can even plan ahead to meet its food needs by re-arranging it’s food storage patterns if it expects to be in a location that was previously either devoid of food or had food of non-desirable quality.
This week’s tally: Animal Kingdom: 2 Mankind: 0
Here is a video at National Geographic, it’s only a little cool, but it reminded me to mention this point: It is the weaker, less dominant individual that has developed a new skill. This skill has propelled them higher up the dominance ladder in that they are now able to aquire more food. Hmm.

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Can I have 20 Cents?

This article in Health Affairs, estimates that national spending on health care will grow in the next 10 years to a level for which it will account for 20 cents of every $1 spent.

If you make $60,000, then you will spend $12,000 on healthcare.

I spent less than $100 on health care in 2006.

I lived.

Perhaps my knowledge of Physical Therapy has something to do with this.

Perhaps PT’s need to market their services better and everyone will save $$.

P.S. Currently, we spend $1 for every $6 on health care….

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Chiropractors Turn State's Evidence!

In my Shared Items list you will find a blog entry, “Chiropractors Named in Jim Black Case.” This article outlines the details of the case.

Here is the deal: Three chiros payed $$ to a legislator in NC for the passage of 3 initiatives. One of the three passed, to allow lower co-pays for chiropractic services. It is now law.

The legislator is in big trouble, but the chiros are off the hook. They cooperated.

To me, they are just as dirty. Perhaps the bad press will hurt them, but perhaps not.

Drives me Crazy!

ILLICIT CASH
Court documents on Tuesday detailed illegal payments fromthree chiropractors to Jim Black:
Fletcher KeithCharlotte: Gave $8,000
Steve WillenGreensboro: Gave $11,000
Tom Brown,Charlotte: Gave $10,000

(Tom Brown served on the NC Board of Chiropractic Examiners until yesterday)

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Hold on Whalers, Greenpeace is coming to help?

Here is an interesting situation. The Japanese whaling ship, Nisshin Maru, located just off the coast of Antartcica has a fire on board. The ship is disabled and carrying a lot of fuel. They fire is continuing to burn, and could ultimately purge its fuel oil out into the pristine arctic sea, the breeding ground for whales and over 100,000 penguins. The ever-knowledgeable Wikipedia site can tell you about the area where the ship is disabled.

Not by chance, the Greenpeace vessel, Esperanza was nearby. In fact, they had been searching for the Nisshin Maru in an attempt to harass it. Now, they can help it. I’m sure they will be happy to tow it all the way to an angry mob of Greenpeacers ready to do some spearing of their own!

This, just 3 days after Japan threatened to pull out of an anti-whaling treaty and resume full-scale, commercial whaling for profit. In making the situation more complicated, Japan has issued a refusal of help from the Greenpeace vessel, because they are “terrorists.” The images above show both Greenpeace’s fanatical and dangerous tactics to block the catch of a whale, and an oddly placed English sign, “Greenpeace misleads you.”

The actual threat of imminent oil leakage is debatable and as of this post, some reports have suggested the ship is contained and being towed by support vessels. These reports came from Japan.

Here is what I know:

  • Don’t trust people who resort to fanatical tactics.
  • Don’t like people who kill whales.
  • Those penguins have no idea what’s happening.

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Snowed In! In Augusta?


There were travel issues yesterday. I never thought I’d get stuck in Augusta due to snow. Leave it to their airlines.

They were even nice enough to offer me a re-scheduled flight taking off 180 miles from my home, which subsequently was cancelled when Boston-Logan shut down. Oh well, who has plans anyway?

Some NPA Think Tank Notes

I work hard to make a blog entry just about every day. About half of what I write gets posted to the Metro Spirit Blog. Please make sure you link there for updates as well. For convenience, I placed a widget on this page’s sidebar to show recent posts in the Metro Spirit Blog, so you can check there as well.

Remember, if you don’t use a news collector program like Google Reader, you can sign up for e-mails of my blog entries as an alternative.

Please don’t be shy about comments, I want to know which posts are enjoyed and which ones I should just keep to myself!

Thanks for Reading!

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Mr Fusion


I am a big fan of the Back to the Future movie series, having seen the first one in a theater on opening night. One of my favorite scenes in when Doc comes back to get Marty at the end of the first movie and goes rummaging for trash to put into his “Mr Fusion” appliance. This trash into energy thing always seemed to me like a cool idea.

It’s here.

The US Army commissioned this project at Purdue University. The result is this device which takes trash of all sorts and reduces it, in the process, producing 90% more energy than it consumes. The resulting energy is used to power a generator. That sounds a bit like old Doc Brown’s Mr Fusion to me. 2015 here we come! Now, who is working on the Hover Board?

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Vivi, Come Home!

Last year, a Whippet named Vivi, got loose and ran away after the Westminster Dog Show while getting ready to board a plane at Kennedy Airport. She had won an Award of Merit at the show. She, presumably, was in desperation mode trying to avoid the plane flight home as these can be very stressful to dogs. She succeeded, but in the process was lost. Vivi was last seen doing 25mph down runway 16. She was wearing a sweater, and many people looked, but no one has found her. The reward is up to $20,000.

I remember being sad about this last year. The fact that there is still no resolution is even worse. At least we know what happened to Barbaro.
Here’s the kicker: In my mind, Vivi is in western PA right now, on her way home to her owner’s place in Claremont, CA. Unfortunately, the owner is moving to Montana. Someone please get Vivi this message, I would hate for her to have an incredible journey only to find her family left!

New Blog Purpose and a Load!

The Purpose:

Astute readers will notice, the Tag Line for NPA Think Tank has changed. I decided to change this in order to truly reflect my purpose in writing. I hope you enjoy!

And…The Load: The BackTpack.

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) sent a press release telling all about their endorsement of this oddly designed and named backpack. I went to the homepage to look into what sort of research this backpack went through to gain the endorsement of a professional organization such as the APTA. Obviously, not much. In fact, the designer even included a personally conducted survey that is not published anywhere but her own site in the “research” list.

I’m sure the design is fine, and indeed seems to make sense biomechanically. However, at a time when the Physical Therapy profession is striving for autonomy and basing the argument largely on our ability to practice based off solid scientific evidence, an endorsement by the APTA of this product seems out of place. I do think children should not be required to carry ANY heavy loads, especially home-work.

Finally, I pretty sure no kid I know would wear this.

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