Saturday, August 04, 2007 author on accessing science

Here is an interesting little blurb by a scientist on the absurdity of scientific access -- he has an Athens account (/envy), but he can't access the latest research (funded by the Department of Health), which is being written about by journalists across the world, because it hasn't actually been published yet.

This means that the media – of all people - are a class privileged over academia, doctors and the public when it comes to access to the data; that for the whole of the media storm across Friday and Saturday, no interested academic, or member of the public, or blogger could participate, unless they were part of the chosen set, because they simply couldn’t see the paper.


Time and again we’ve covered the venality and incompetence of the media: and yet laughably the popular debate on this publicly funded academic work is conducted exclusively behind closed doors - by oldmedia employees - in a privileged world from which you, all doctors, and all academics are deliberately excluded.

The often scientifically confused journalists of the mainstream media are the people targeted in his blog -- and yet they have exclusive access to the latest research which is making headlines. Bit strange.

The paper in question, by the way, is on the correlation between marijuana and psychosis, specifically (I believe) schizophrenia. While the risk of schizophrenia may be increased by marijuana (I read it may cause an extra 600 cases in Britain, a country of 60 million), the prohibition of it has clearly been a failure.

It's important to note (as some journalists have, but as the Guardian article here does not) that correlation does not mean causation. The researchers noted that there is a distinct possibility that marijuana use and schizophrenia are driven by a third variable -- that is, people who use marijuana could be less mentally stable, use other drugs more, or could be driven by their psychoses to self-medicate. There's any number of things.

See Also:

Media Confuses Percentages Again and Again

"There is a large growth in shopping in December, followed by Christmas. Therefore growth in shopping causes Christmas."

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