Thursday, July 28, 2005

it will be so until it's time to go

Anecdotal evidence is tricky. In some cases, this kind of evidence can be critical in guiding researchers towards the right path. I can think of an example: a drug was supposed to be developed for prostate cancer. During the clinical trials, which ultimately proved that the drug was not particularly effective in treating prostate cancer, there were a subset of balding men who reported hair regrowth while on the therapy. It guided the researchers to conduct another trial, and this is now a drug that treats male pattern baldness. If you think this is an isolated example, dig up some information on how Viagra was originally developed in the lab. I won't do it, or reference the example drug I gave, because I have some issues with lifestyle drugs. I will not bore anyone by getting on a soapbox on the topic.

However, in some cases, anecdotal evidence is just that- anecdotal, not based on any hard, scientific data. The naturopaths were dealt a large blow this week, as the NEJM (link reported by the NYT) just published a study that rather definitively confirms that echinacea doesn't do jack for colds. I'm a bit conflicted by this study even ever having been conducted. Echinacea doesn't really have any harmful side effects. Doctors don't prescribe it to patients. Was it really important to spend money on a clinical trial to play Mythbusters? Maybe physicians just really got sick of their patients raving about something that is probably as good as a spoonful of sugar. Or maybe they thought the outcome might have been quite the opposite. The interesting thing about herbal remedies is that, in many cases, there is an active ingredient that can be later isolated and optimized to treat something like (even) a cold more effectively. The real beauty of this is that, even in medicine & science, the situation is not that unlike politics- there is always spin control on both sides. The linked article notes that this was a tightly-controlled study but that there are still researchers calling for further studies in echinacea- higher doses, different preparations, blah blah blah. The mind can be a dangerous thing to waste- the truth is a light that can most always be slanted if you've got a brain that's able to find the right angle to diffract it.

Bucky done gun I done gone and done it now. CV, complete. I even applied for a position today. It is hard to feel much elation over this though, for the following reasons:
  • Though I am sure this will come off sounding ridiculously arrogant, I am completely overqualified for the position. I am doing all of this for a specific reason, and there is an endgame that justifies lowballing it the way I am, but that, I find, is not a particularly motivating thing in the near term.
  • If I get this position, I will have to leave my beloved abode for a place I usually deride.
  • Nothing is inherently wrong with my current position. No one treats me badly, it's not terrible work, and I am in no danger of being made expendable.
  • I will get paid a maximum of 50% of my current salary. I keep telling myself this doesn't matter, but, when you have no safety net except your own hard-earned savings, this is is also not a great consolation.
  • All of this could be for a total and complete pipedream that may never come to pass. It reminds me of a Dodgeball quote referencing the team's decision to forfeit: "That's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for them." Did I mention that I lurve Jason Bateman?

In other news, some more Coldplay bashing, and it's about the specific song I posted about earlier this week. I just lost another 50 hipster points. I think I'm going to have to get a tattoo on my wrist if I want to still be taken seriously. I have to agree with a lot of their indictments of terrible lyrics- Cherry Pie and MacArthur Park are almost too obvious to list. But they left out plenty of gems... I'll nominate almost every Alanis Morrissette song I've ever heard, for example. But maybe that's just because I'm still pissed that she thanked India. Grr.

No comments: