#Science Quotable: Todd Pittinsky – America lacks faith in science #Scicomm

Fifty-three percent of Americans are not convinced that human activity is causing global warming (1). Why? The issue is faith, not facts.

We cannot see climate change with our own eyes, yet we (scientists) have faith in the scientific method. That is what gives science the right to an authoritative voice in public policy.

The real challenge for scientists and those who speak for them is to inspire the public’s faith in science.

Scientists do not typically think it is their business to inspire faith. Their job is to provide facts. But to solve the pressing problems that require public acceptance of well-established science—from global warming to vaccinations to the increasing overuse of antibiotics—scientists must indeed inspire more public faith in their methods and their mutually enforced trustworthiness.

– Selected quotes from a great letter in Science Magazine by Todd L. Pittinsky (America’s crisis of faith in science)

Pittinsky gives a terrific perspective on faith in science and the scientific method, including specific examples of how to inspire faith in science! While a part of me cringes at the use of faith and science in a single sentence, in this case I have been convinced! Check out the full letter here!!!

NOTE: Disappointing to see Pittinsky use ‘global warming’ instead of climate change… womp womp. Guess he isn’t a follower of Bill Nye.

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#Science Quotable: Newt Gingrich – Double the NIH budget #unexpected

Even as we’ve let financing for basic scientific and medical research stagnate, government spending on health care has grown significantly. That should trouble every fiscal conservative. As a conservative myself, I’m often skeptical of government “investments.” But when it comes to breakthroughs that could cure — not just treat — the most expensive diseases, government is unique. It alone can bring the necessary resources to bear. (The federal government funds roughly a third of all medical research in the United States.) And it is ultimately on the hook for the costs of illness. It’s irresponsible and shortsighted, not prudent, to let financing for basic research dwindle.

House and Senate negotiators are at work on a budget resolution for the fiscal year that starts on Oct. 1, and the N.I.H. should be a priority. Doubling the institutes’ budget once again would be a change on the right scale, although that increase should be accompanied by reforms to make the N.I.H. less bureaucratic, to give the director more flexibility to focus resources on the most common and expensive health problems, and to place a stronger emphasis on truly breakthrough research.

We are in a time of unimaginable scientific and technological progress. By funding basic medical research, Congress can transform our fiscal health, and our personal health, too.

– Newt Gingrich in a New York Times Op-Ed (see the link for the full op-ed), including nice examples for fiscal conservatives!

The call to DOUBLE the NIH budget from Gingrich is fantastic, even if it is somewhat unexpected. Bipartisan support, including from conservatives, is needed to keep the United States at the top of biomedical research.

As a side note, the call to increase support and funding solely on ‘expensive’ diseases should be dealt with caution. Funding very disease specific research will not necessarily equate with treatments or cures. Scientific and biomedical research has proven time and again that treatments and cures are most likely to come out of more basic scientific studies in unexpected ways.

Shout out to Sam for the heads up!!!

#Science Quotable: Peter Hotez on measles and vaccine hesitancy @peterhotez @PLOSCurrentsOut

[tweet https://twitter.com/PLOSCurrentsOut/status/570657070099202049]

Measles was eliminated from the United States in 2000 – with elimination defined as “the absence of continuous disease transmission for 12 months or more in a specific geographic area”.  But in 2014 things began to unravel when the US experienced its largest number of measles cases ever, and later at the beginning of 2015 when a measles outbreak began in Disneyland and subsequently spread to multiple states.  The primary cause of the California measles outbreak was parents who chose not to vaccinate their children because of unwarranted fears that vaccines were linked to autism, despite the fact that such connections have been disproven in the scientific literature.  As both a parent of a child who is severely disabled by autism and other mental disabilities and a vaccine researcher and head of a non-profit vaccine product development partnership, I like to also point out the absence of any scientific plausibility for connecting autism to vaccines  (Thoughts on World Autism Awareness Day).

I am troubled – the world looks to the United States as a trend setter in many different fields ranging from cinema to the sciences.  Vaccine hesitancy is a trend that should never be imitated.

Peter Hotez, President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Developmentannouncing the launch of PLOS Currents Outbreaks collection on Vaccine Hesitancy

Anti-Science Quotable…. maybe. Gov Scott Walker dodges evolution question in UK interview. #science

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Wisconsin Governor and likely 2016 Presidential candidate Scott Walker avoided the question when asked by an interviewer if he believes in evolution (video at link):

I’m going to punt on that one as well. That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other. So I’m going to leave that up to you.

I’m here to talk about trade and not pontificate on other issues. I love the evolution of trade in Wisconsin and I’d like to see an even bigger evolution as well.

While I agree that a politician shouldn’t be involved in answering the question of evolution, I disagree that politicians shouldn’t say what their beliefs are, how else will people make educated decisions when voting for their representation. Walker later released a response statement that indicates he is further walking the line on evolution:

Both science and my faith dictate my belief that we are created by God. I believe faith and science are compatible, and go hand in hand.

#Science Quotable: Carrie Wolinetz – President of @UMR4NIH… Again!!

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We commend Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Brian Higgins (D-NY) and Peter King (R-NY) for introducing two new pieces of legislation this week that would boost federal funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – the American Cures Act and the Advancing Biomedical Research Act. With stagnant funding levels surpassing a decade, our nation is falling deeper and deeper into a medical innovation deficit. These steadfast congressional leaders recognize our country’s dire position and the importance of making lifesaving and economy-fueling NIH funding a top priority in the 114th Congress. – Carrie Wolinetz, PhD, President, United for Medical Research

Again, because of this #Science Quotable posted yesterday…. also from Carrie Wolinetz!

#Ebola Quotable: President Obama on ebola in USA and West Africa

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Our efforts to identify, isolate, and then treat ebola patients can work. America has proven that it can handle the isolated cases that may occur here.

We are nowhere near out of the woods yet in West Africa.

The bottom line is, that we know how to treat this disease, given that it has emerged in such a large significant outbreak in these areas, and we recently saw some cases in Mali. It underscores how important it is to continue to push forward until we stamp out this disease entirely in that region. Until we do, there are threats if additional outbreaks, and given the nature of international travel, it means that everybody has some measure of risk

Here at home we have made great progress in preparing our healthcare system to deal with any possible threat. Our scientists continue to make progress with vaccines and treatments, but we have got plenty of work to do. All of this means that although we should feel optimistic about our capacity to solve the Ebola crisis, we cannot be complacent simply because the news attention on it has waned. We have to stay with it.

#Ebola Quotable: Dr. Craig Spencer – Doctors without Borders hero and Ebola survivor!

My recovery from Ebola speaks to the effectiveness of the protocols in place for health staff returning from west Africa at the time of my infection. I am a living example of how those protocols work, and of how early detection and isolation is critical to both surviving Ebola and ensuring that it is not transmitted to others.

While my case has garnered international attention, it is important to remember that my infection represents but a fraction of the more than 13,000 reported cases to date in west Africa – the center of the outbreak, where families are being torn apart and communities destroyed.

Please join me in turning our attention back to west Africa, and ensuring that medical volunteers and other aid workers do not face stigma and threats upon their return home. Volunteers need to be supported to help fight this outbreak at its source.

– Ebola survivor Dr. Craig Spencer upon release from hospital and in thanking his caregivers