Pseudo-Science At The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post has more than its share of pseudo-science in posts on medicine. Rahul K. Parikh, a physician writing at Salon, looks at the pseudo-science passed off there and attributes it to Ariana Huffington’s personal beliefs.

Why We Cannot Run Public Policy Based Upon Polling Results

While I’m sure others can give many other arguments, here’s two polls which just came out which show that it is impossible to govern based upon polls. A New York Times/CBS News poll shows that most Americans want to reduce the deficit. They do not want to raise taxes or cut spending.

A Time poll shows that Americans support health care reform:

Forty-six percent of respondents said it was “very important” that Congress and the President pass major health reform in the next few months, and an additional 23% said it was “somewhat important.” Only 28% found the immediate effort either not very or not at all important. In a separate question, more Americans said it would be better to pass “major reform” to health care (55%) rather than “minor adjustments” (43%).

On the details of the plan, respondents remained supportive of many of the rough outlines of the health-reform effort as originally described by President Obama. Sixty-three percent said they would support providing health-care coverage for all Americans, even if the government had to subsidize those who could not afford it. Fifty-six percent said they supported a “public health insurance option” to compete with private plans. Fifty-seven percent support raising taxes on those with annual incomes over $280,000 to pay for the plan. Eighty percent said they would support a bill that required insurance companies to offer coverage to anyone who applies, even those with pre-existing medical conditions. By contrast, a slight plurality of 48% opposed requiring all but the smallest businesses to provide health care, and 56% of Americans opposed taxing employer-provided health care to pay for the cost of covering the nation’s uninsured.

On the other hand, they are also falling for many of the scare tactics of the right:

By significant margins, survey respondents said they believe the final health-reform legislation is likely to raise health-care costs in the long run (62%), make everything about health care more complicated (65%) and offer less freedom to choose doctors and coverage (56%).

The first clearly shows a problem with the opinions expressed. The second poll can be interpreted in a couple of different ways. It is a good thing that Americans continue to support health care reform despite hearing the misinformation from the right but it is distressing to see these scare stories being believes by so many.

New York and the Internet

An op-ed in The New York Times compares going on line to moving to New York. For many young people who cannot afford to go to New York the internet does offer many similar advantages for “young aspirants to the creative class.”

…another destination beckons, a place that courses with all the raw ambition and creative energy that the hard times seem to have drained from New York. I am referring, of course, to the Internet, which over the past decade has slowly become the de facto heart of American culture: the public space in which our most influential conversations transpire, in which our new celebrities are discovered and touted, in which fans are won and careers made.

Wherever young creatives physically reside today, in their endeavors they are increasingly moving online: posting their photos, writing, videos and music, building a “presence” in the hope of winning an audience. Monetary rewards on the Internet are still scarce, it is true, but the cost of living is cheap and, more important, the opportunities for attention are plentiful. Every month more YouTube sensations emerge, more bloggers ink big book deals, more bands blow up through music Web sites and MySpace, and every day more young people seek their “big break” in the virtual megalopolis rather than in (or as well as in) the physical one.

The experience of moving online actually bears quite a few similarities to becoming a New Yorker. Disorienting and seemingly endless, the Internet conversation moves at lightning speed and according to unstated social rules that can bewilder outsiders. Also, like New Yorkers, residents of the Internet do not suffer fools, or mince words in belittling them, as anyone who has contributed a redundant post to Metafilter, or an earnest comment to Gawker, can attest.

In their scope, both the Internet and New York are profoundly humbling: young people accustomed to feeling special about their gifts are inevitably jarred, upon arrival, to discover just how many others are trying to do precisely the same, with equal or greater success. (For a vivid demonstration of this online, try to invent a play on words, and then Google it. You’ll be convinced that there is, in fact, “nothing new in the cloud” — a joke that a British I.B.M. employee beat me to last November.)

Moreover, the presence of an audience causes online residents to style themselves as outsized personae, as characters on a public stage. On the Internet, as in creative New York, everyone can possess a tiny measure of celebrity, and everyone pays attention to what everyone else is doing, all the time.

Boathouse July 2008

Despite all the similarities, going on line is just not the same as being in New York. For example, you cannot walk thorugh Central Park, stroll through the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and have a drink at the Boathouse while “living” on the internet.