Weekend reads: Surgeon on trial over experiments; hydroxychloroquine-promoting doctor reprimanded; questions about concussion research

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The week at Retraction Watch featured:

Our list of retracted or withdrawn COVID-19 papers is up to 221. There are more than 33,000 retractions in our database — which powers retraction alerts in EndNoteLibKeyPapers, and Zotero. And have you seen our leaderboard of authors with the most retractions lately — or our list of top 10 most highly cited retracted papers?

Here’s what was happening elsewhere (some of these items may be paywalled, metered access, or require free registration to read):

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12 thoughts on “Weekend reads: Surgeon on trial over experiments; hydroxychloroquine-promoting doctor reprimanded; questions about concussion research”

  1. The criticism that the OCLA provides to the Fisman paper (about the risk posed to the vaccinated by the unvaccinated) is not particularly compelling, in my opinion.

    Much more compelling criticism is that what the model *actually shows* (if you download it from Figshare and play with it) is the following:
    1) Infections peak earlier among the unvaccinated than among the vaccinated, so early in a pandemic, a vaccinated person is disproportionately likely to be infected by an unvaccinated person
    2) After infections have spiked, however, a vaccinated person is more likely to be infected by another vaccinated person
    3) Neither of the two measures we can use to protect people (increasing the vaccination rate and decreasing the mixing rate between vaccinated and unvaccinated people) substantially affect the total number of individuals who contract the disease by the end of the pandemic. Increasing the vaccination rate from 80% to 95% in his model changes the proportion of vaccinated who are infected by the end of the pandemic from 94% to 90%. Decreasing mixing among vaccinated & unvaccinated from 0.5 to 0.1 decreases the proportion of vaccinated who are infected from 94% to 90%. And those are calculated using pre-omicron parameters. If you plug in the higher R0 for omicron (~10), then it really doesn’t matter what you do.

    In other words, what that model actually shows is that almost everyone is expected to get Omicron, no matter what.

    So why are we adding social problems by villainizing the unvaccinated? Shouldn’t public health policy be based on trust instead of divisive demonization?

    1. Public health policy should be based on improving public health. Vaccination for all is the best way to do that, and once easy compliance is done, then incentives or disincentives become useful. The unvaccinated are not being villainized or demonized; they are being recognized as the primary population for hospitalizations, deaths, and adverse health events, also affecting health care for those who need health care for other reasons (e.g., acute medical events, cancers, etc.)

      1. There’s no question that they are disproportionately likely to be hospitalized, die, etc. That’s *NOT* what the paper is about. The paper is saying that you are more likely to get COVID because of unvaccinated people. Whereas the model actually shows that you’re probably going to get COVID no matter what.

        When you say that a particular group of people is going to infect you (when in reality, the data shows you’re probably going to get infected regardless), that’s demonization.

        Get vaccinated to protect yourself. (It also helps to protect the medical system.) End of story. Leave people alone and let them make their own damn choices.

        1. >”(when in reality, the data shows you’re probably going to get infected regardless)”

          Which data are you referring too, Bongobongo?

          1. Sorry, rather than “data”, I meant “model”.

            If you question whether or not everyone will actually get COVID, take it up with their model, because that’s what their model predicts.

      2. “The unvaccinated are not being villainized or demonized . . . ”

        Really? Do you not remember the calls to forcibly involuntarily imprison the unvaccinated in special “colonies” away from the vaccinated? Do not remember the calls to deny the unvaccinated their rights to travel? Do you not remember the calls from the public to increase the taxes on the unvaccinated to allegedly compensate for their increased medical costs? Do you not remember all the hate directed towards the unvaccinated? DO YOU REMEMBER PRES. BIDEN TELLING THE UNVACCINATED THEY WOULD BE ENJOYING A “WINTER OF DEATH” FROM OMICRON? And on and on. Do you remember those? Do you?

        So please tell me again how those that made the decision to forego an experimental vaccine weren’t demonized by the public, by the media, and by the President of the United States. Go ahead. Please tell me that again.

      3. “Public health policy should be based on improving public health.”

        Pushing a leaky, experimental vaccine that neither prevents an individual from being infected nor stops the transmission of the disease from an infected individual to another is NOT the way to improve public health.

        Public health policy should be based upon sound, open, and clear scientific data. It should not be driven by political considerations or the potential profit margins of the pharmaceutical companies.

  2. Re https://www.chemistryworld.com/careers/publish-in-english-or-perish/4014820.article

    “When faced with a topic that is difficult to explain in current isiZulu vocabulary, Biyela takes the opportunity to create new words. For example, Biyela needed a word for ‘dinosaur’ in isiZulu. He came up with Isilwane sasemandulo, which literally translates to ancient animal. This is more accurate than dinosaur, which comes from the Greek sauros and deinos for terrifying and lizard respectively. ‘When I was describing [Isilwane sasemandulo] in isiZulu it sounds fantastical and crazy … but when [the readers] realise that it’s a dinosaur it suddenly makes sense,’ says Biyela. ‘They walk away knowing more about dinosaurs than someone who speaks English, who takes it for granted that they know what a dinosaur is.’”

    What a bizarre and puritanical stance to take. English doesn’t have a word for “dinosaur”, which is why the Greek roots were put together. Putting together a new isiZulu word is completely unnecessary, when they could have just used “dinosaur” (the same way English speakers call a pizza by its Italian name instead of a “sauce and cheese circle”). Virtually no English speakers are deconstructing the Greek roots to know what a dinosaur is; sure, they think it’s a lizard, but that is caused by pop culture sources every kid sees before they learn Greek (if they ever learn Greek). And I don’t think “ancient animal” is any more informative. Woolly mammoths and trilobites are ancient animals–are they dinosaurs?

  3. I see nothing shocking about 50% of researchers pre-registering a research protocol! In my field of experimental biochemistry, pre-registering a protocol would make no sense at all and would lead lead to people trying to bung the round pegs of surprising data into the square holes of an initial set of hypotheses.
    Please be more critical of the manufactured outrage you highlight – there is enough real outrage for all!

  4. *Ghostbusters theme*
    Do the hoax dance!
    Da-na-da-na nanana da-na-na-na nanana
    Do the hoax dance!
    I ain’t fraid of no cove. I ain’t fraid of no cove.
    *Sounds of record skip*

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