Tag: government

Bioethics News

Degrees of Maybe: How We Can All Make Better Predictions

June 27, 2017

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Turn on the TV, and you’ll find no shortage of people who claim to know what’s going to happen: who’s going to get picked for the NBA draft, who will win the next election, which stocks will go up or down.

These pundits and prognosticators all have an air of certainty. And why shouldn’t they? We, as the audience, like to hear the world’s complexity distilled into simple, pithy accounts. It doesn’t help that these commentators rarely pay a serious price when their predictions don’t pan out.

Lurking in the background are scores of ordinary people who do a much better job of predicting the future than the so-called experts. They’re the subject of the book, Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, co-authored by psychologist Phil Tetlock and journalist Dan Gardner.

For years, Tetlock and his team of non-experts — among them, a retired irrigation specialist and former ballroom dancer — competed against the government’s top intelligence officers in a forecasting tournament. The people tapping at their keyboards at their public libraries or in their homes while their kids played nearby did better on questions about whether Greece would leave the Eurozone or whether Russia would invade Ukraine — questions that were literally all over the map.

Tetlock discovered important ways these “superforecasters” differed from the rest of us. They’re not all members of Mensa or polymaths. Their feats of prediction are more attainable than that: They view prediction as a skill that can be cultivated.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Introducing Common Rule Webinar Series Blog Squad Member Dawn Leusner

Among scientists in the field of education, there are many who believe that all educational research, regardless of purpose, should be exempt from IRB processes and procedures. While the government did not approve education as a new category of excused research under the new proposed Common Rule that is currently slated to take effect in January 2018, there remain many areas of consideration that might be affected, including confidentiality, authentication of online participants, consent and assent, and questions around what constitutes research when conducting data collection activities in school settings.

The post Introducing Common Rule Webinar Series Blog Squad Member Dawn Leusner appeared first on Ampersand.

Source: Ampersand, the blog of PRIM&R.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

‘We Don’t Know What They Do Behind the Wall’: Zambian Women Miss Out On Help

June 27, 2017

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On the highway heading towards Chongwe, 15km south-east of Lusaka, the red Chinese lettering, high flagpoles and gleaming modern architecture of the ZambiaChinese Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre (ZATDC) stand out amid the vast fields of maize.

It is one of 25 such centres built across the continent as part of a grand plan to bring agricultural training to local people, helping them produce better crops with higher yields, so that food security is improved for everyone.

That should be great news for small-scale farmers around here, who – as in many African countries – are mostly women. Makulate Ngoma, 47, sole provider for her seven grandchildren, has a little plot of land. “I became a farmer because I didn’t want to buy maize meal, that’s why I grow crops. But you can’t survive on farming. It’s only enough for day to day.”

Every day, Ngoma travels to Chongwe town, a collection of lean-to shacks and dilapidated stores strung along the road. Stalls of rickety tables hold small pyramids of onions, tomatoes, bananas, and peanuts, watched by women who have planted, grew, weeded and watered each plant.

Despite the ZATDC being so close, Ngoma was unaware of its existence. None of the other stallholders had heard of it either. “We’d like to get training, but we haven’t seen the Chinese, and government hasn’t told us anything. The government doesn’t support us in loans or help us be better farmers,” said Ngoma. The other women nodded in agreement.

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Responsibility in the age of precision genomics

by Alexa Woodward

Alexa is a fellow in the Precision Medicine: Ethics, Policy, and Culture project through Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Social Difference. The following is her reflection on the ongoing discussion around the Precision Medicine Initiative that has been the subject of recent political, social, and popular media attention. A recent presentation by Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, PhD, from the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford University spurred our multi-disciplinary discussion of some of the following themes.

What is normal, anyway?

Genetically speaking, that’s precisely the question that the Obama administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) seeks to answer. In recruiting and collecting comprehensive genetic, medical, behavioral, and lifestyle data from one million Americans, the scientific and medical communities will be better able to understand what constitutes normal genetic variation within the population, and in turn, what amount of variation causes or contributes to disease or disease risk.[1] Using this data, researchers could potentially create tailored approaches for intervention and treatment of an incredible range of diseases.

The PMI has a secondary aim: to increase the representation of previously underrepresented populations in research – primarily African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos. Inclusion of these groups in research has been a challenge for decades, with lack of access, distrust in the medical and research systems, and institutionalized racism all playing exclusionary roles. More broadly, outside of the government initiative, the promise of precision medicine ultimately seeks to alleviate disparities by finding and addressing supposed genetic differences, and empowering people with information to take responsibility for their health.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Zika in India and Public Health Ethics

Chhanda Chakraborti argues for a more ethically aware public health response to the to Zika in India.

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On May 27, 2017, Indian newspapers reported that the WHO confirmed three cases of Zika virus in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. The first case, in November 2016, involved a 34-year-old woman, who tested positive for Zika after she delivered a baby at B. J. Medical College. The second case, in January 2017, involved a a 22-year-old woman in her 37th week of her pregnancy. The third case, in February 2017, involved a 64-year-old man who was identified during a random monitoring and surveillance activity conducted by the B. J. Medical College.

In February 2016, the Minister of Health proclaimed that India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had adopted several actions and countermeasures to prevent the spread of Zika. However, the alerts and guidelines about Zika, that were created in consultation with the World Health Organization (WHO), only became publicly available on the Ministry’s website after media reports of Zika in India. In May 2017, the WHO asserted that India’s Ministry of Health has taken the necessary steps to address the situation. These steps include sharing national plan and guidelines on Zika with the States, setting up an Inter-Ministerial task force, displaying Zika- related information for travellers in the airports.

B. J. Medical College, Ahmedabad

Beyond the media reports and the statements issued by the Ministry and the WHO, there has been little public discussion about Zika in India. The local neighbourhood Ahmedabad, as well as the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (which is responsible for public health in the area) reportedly were unaware of the Zika cases until these were publicized by the media. In sharp contrast, there are regular public updates on Dengue and Chikangunya cases in India.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

FDA Advisory Committees and Industry-Funded Patient Advocacy

Cross-posted on Objective Intent and Notice & Comment.

Industry funding of patient advocacy organizations recently has received attention from media and researchers.  For example, one 2017 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that over 80% of patient advocacy organizations with annual revenues of at least $7.5 million reported receiving industry funding; another study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that approximately 65% of patient advocacy organizations with a median annual revenue of about $300,000 reported receiving industry funding; and a post on the Hastings Center’s website (and an earlier JAMA Internal Medicine editorial) reported that one pharmaceutical company funded an advocacy organization that, in turn, recruited other patient advocacy groups to speak in favor of the company’s drug when the FDA was considering approving it.  This last story highlights one area where the rubber meets the road with respect to FDA and patient advocates’ conflicts of interest: advisory committee meetings.

Advisory committees play an important role at FDA, including for new drug approvals.  Often when FDA is considering whether to approve a new drug, it will ask an advisory committee—a group of outside experts—to provide the agency with advice on various scientific questions about the drug.  At a typical drug-related advisory committee meeting, the drug company and FDA will each take a turn presenting the scientific evidence about the unapproved drug, then there will be an open public hearing at which any interested member of the public may speak, followed by the advisory committee’s discussion of, and vote on, the questions that FDA has posed to it.  Partly because advisory committee meetings may be the first public airing of the agency’s questions about an unapproved drug and partly because the agency follows advisory committee recommendations roughly 75% of the time, these meetings and recommendations frequently are closely watched.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

The United States Government has presented an amend to abolishe Planned Parenthood government subsidies

The current Government of the United States has presented an amend to the “Affordable Care Act“, with the result that they will not longer awarding Planned Parenthood 500 million Euros annually, around two fifths of their total budget. Planned Parenthood has 57 local affiliates that operate around 650 health centres in the United States. In 2015, the organisation received $553 million from federal funds, $309 million from private insurers, $353 million in donations and $80 million from other sources. According to their own figures, 2.5 million people use their facilities every year, and they believe that 1 in 5 American women has visited a centre at least once in her life (JAMA 177; 307-308, 2017).

Official reasons to defund Pllaned Parethood, “We don’t want to commit taxpayer funding for abortion, and Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said during a CNN town hall .

Planned parenthood government subsidies to promote abortion also in other countries.

A step has been made in last februay when President Trump signed an executive order barring federal funds from organizations that promote abortion around the world, including the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

Photo The MQ

La entrada The United States Government has presented an amend to abolishe Planned Parenthood government subsidies aparece primero en Bioethics Observatory.

Source: Bioethics Observatory.

This article was originally published by the Bioethics Observatory of the Catholic University of Valencia. Up-to-date news and reports from the Bioethics Observatory at the Catholic University of Valencia (Spain), covering a wide range of bioethical issues including stem cell research, abortion, assisted suicide and much more.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Jeremy Howick, The Philosophy of Evidence-Based Medicine, Wiley-Blackwell, 2011

The idea that prescribing physicians should be guided by the most reliable scientific evidence seems obvious, but the actual methodology of evidence-based medicine was only introduced in the early 1990s by an international group of clinicians and researchers led by Gordon Guyatt. Since then it has provided a new paradigm for the scientific foundation of medicine and has influenced other disciplines outside of medicine, for example, evidence-based psychotherapy, science and government. The novel concept of evidence-based medicine is based on hierarchies of evidence from opinions of respected authorities, mechanistic reasoning (pathophysiologic rationale), and reports of expert committees at the bottom to various levels of observational studies and finally to randomized clinical trials (RCTs) at the apex of the pyramid. Since RCTs provide the most rigorous testing of therapies, they are the gold standard. When treatments long believed to be safe and effective are subjected to RCTs, many turn out to be as useless as the quackery of snake oil or as harmful as mercury. So, attention to RCTs as the evidence informing clinical judgment and practice is perhaps analogous to results of rigorous experiments in physics which turn out to be very different from our intuitions. Everyone, it seems, is on the bandwagon, from medical societies and pharmaceutical companies to general practitioners and surgeons, in the quest for an evidence-based practice.

Since evidence-based medicine was conceived with the practical aim of improving the efficacy of medicine, it does not appear that there is much of philosophical interest in the concept until one raises the epistemological question, as Jeremy Howick does in this book: What is the evidence for evidence-based medicine philosophy of evidence (9)?

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

National Right to Life Tackles End of Life Medicine

Several sessions at next week’s National Right to Life Conference address end-of-life medicine, including the general session: How to Prevent an Assisted Suicide Roe v. Wade.


Assisted Suicide Battles Rage in Nearly Every State: Is Your State Next?
Mary Hahn Beerworth, Scott Fischbach
The threat of doctor-prescribed suicide is advancing in the states. Moreover, the next Supreme Court nomination could lead to legalization of euthanasia nationwide. Assisting suicide is now legal in California, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and, via the courts in Montana. With battles raging in states
across the country, the ongoing battle in Vermont will be discussed as will other battles nationwide. This workshop will give background and break open the myths surrounding doctor-prescribed suicide. The speakers will cover the current legal and legislative landscape, describe some different kinds of successful winning (and losing strategies), and talk about what you can do in your own state. In the wake of massive state legislative push and upcoming Supreme Court nominations, it is more important than ever that doctor-prescribed suicide be stopped in its tracks.


The Battle Against Simon’s Law: How Dirty Tricks Lost To Smart Negotiations
Kathy Ostrowski
When hospitals choose to fight against parental decision-making rights – the battle for life can take two paths, and only one leads to life. This workshop will provide a firsthand account of those who fought for Simon’s Law in Kansas. Simon’s Law is a very significant pro-life measure that combats selectively “rationed” care and medical discrimination against children with life-limiting diagnoses.  Kathy Ostrowski will share how the triumph of artful dialogue beat back bullying tactics and whisper campaigns.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Psst, The Human Genome Was Never Completely Sequenced

Some scientists say it should be. “As a matter of truth in advertising, the ‘finished’ sequence isn’t finished,” said Eric Lander, who led the lab at the Whitehead Institute that deciphered more of the genome for the government-funded Human Genome Project than any other. “I always say ‘finished’ is a term of art.”

Source: Bioethics Bulletin by the Berman Institute of Bioethics.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.