it’s science

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

@A_AMilne“My father used to say that the third-rate brain thought with the majority, the second-rate brain thought with the minority and the first-rate brain thought for itself. Where there was uncertainty, where opinions differed, I would have to decide for myself.”

COVID19 original coronavirus + variants of interest & concern so far + country where they were first found:

– SARS‑CoV‑2 (China)
– Alpha (UK)
– Beta (South Africa)
– Gamma (Brazil)
– Delta (India)
– Theta (Philippines)
– Iota (US)
– Kappa (India)
The pandemic is not over yet.

The mRNA Vaccines Are Extraordinary, but Novavax Is Even Better

The Novavax vaccine also has a substantially lower rate of side effects than the authorized mRNA vaccines. Last week’s data showed that about 40 percent of people who receive Novavax report fatigue after the second dose, as compared with 65 percent for Moderna and more than 55 percent for Pfizer. Based on the results of Novavax’s first efficacy trial in the U.K., side effects (including but not limited to fatigue) aren’t just less frequent; they’re milder too. That’s a very big deal for people on hourly wages, who already bear a disproportionate risk of getting COVID-19, and who have been less likely to get vaccinated in part because of the risk of losing days of work to post-vaccine fever, pain, or malaise. Side effects are a big barrier for COVID-vaccine acceptance.

How a Sharp-Eyed Scientist Became Biology’s Image Detective

In March of 2019, when she was fifty-three, [Elisabeth] Bik decided to leave her job to do this detective work full time, launching a blog called Science Integrity Digest. Over the past six and a half years—while earning a bit of income from consulting and speaking, and receiving some crowdfunding—she has identified more than forty-nine hundred articles containing suspect image duplications, documenting them in a master spreadsheet. On Twitter, more than a hundred thousand people now follow her exposés …
All the while, Bik has continued to rack up retractions. Last June, researchers at Harvard retracted a ten-month-old paper from Nature, and, in November, prominent Dutch scientists retracted a 2015 paper from Science; Bik had e-mailed the journals’ top editors about Western-blot duplications in both papers, and tweeted, tagging @Nature and @ScienceMagazine. (The authors maintained that their over-all findings had been confirmed.) Major publishers have also retracted several hundred faked paper-mill papers flagged by Bik and her sleuthing colleagues. The Microbiology Society, an organization in the U.K., has awarded her a prize for her work as a science communicator.

Covid doom predictions that never happened

What happened:
“Suicides fell …
Savings & net worth rose …
People are paying their rents & mortgages …
State budgets are healthy …
Business formation increased ..
But [US] universities really are in trouble”

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