Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for September 20th, 2020

The Mystery of “The Jet-Propelled Couch”

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An absolutely fascinating column by Mark Frauenfelder:

When I was 15 I read “The Jet-Propelled Couch,” the true story of a psychiatric patient who believed he could teleport to a faraway planet. I’ve been fascinated ever since.

I learned about it from the Vaughn Bodē Index (1976). Bodē (1941-1978) was an underground cartoonist best known for Cheech Wizard. In an interview in the Index, Bodē lamented the fact that the patient in “The Jet-Propelled Couch” had been “cured” of his delusion. I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about this patient, so I scoured used bookstores in Boulder, Colorado until I found a copy of The Fifty-Minute Hour and Other True Psychoanalytic Tales (1955), by psychiatrist Robert M. Lindner (best known for his 1944 book Rebel Without A Cause: The Hypnoanalysis Of A Criminal Psychopath, which was the inspiration for the James Dean movie of the same name). The Fifty-Minute Hour contained five fascinating case stories of Lindner’s patients.

The most famous of the five cases was that of “Kirk Allen,” who Lindner described in the book’s final chapter, “The Jet-Propelled Couch.” According to Linder, Allen (a pseudonym) was one of Lindner’s patients, born in 1918, who was a physicist at “X Reservation,” a “government installation in the southwest” (probably Los Alamos National Laboratory). Allen had made important contributions during World War II (probably as part of the Manhattan Project). After Allen’s superiors observed him chronically spacing out on the job while muttering about his travels to other planets, they sent him to Lindner’s Baltimore office for long-term treatment.

Lindner described Allen as friendly and polite, and seemingly free of mental illness. But as Lindner got to know Allen, he learned that his patient had a traumatic childhood that affected him profoundly. Allen had grown up on an island in the tropical Pacific where he felt isolated from other children. His mother and father (a high-ranking member in the U.S. Military) paid little attention to him. “Throughout childhood and early adolescence,” wrote Lindner, “he was haunted by the difference between himself and his companions, a difference not solely of skin color but of social heritage and the innumerable subtleties of life.” To make matters worse, Allen’s governess sexually abused him for many months when he was eleven years old, which added further trauma.

While living on the island, Allen came across a series of science fiction/fantasy novels in the library that starred a protagonist who shared his name. The books provided an escape for his unhappy life. Allen read and re-read the novels.

“As I read about the adventures of Kirk Allen in these books,” Allen told Lindner, “the conviction began to grow on me that the stories were not only true to the very last detail, but that they were about me.”

He began fantasizing about additional adventures starring his namesake. His reveries were so rich in sensory detail that Allen came to the conclusion that his imagined escapades weren’t fiction — they were actually taking place in the future and he was somehow tapping into them. The fantasies grew and continued for years. He eventually discovered that he could leave his earthly body and travel forward in time to live as the heroic Kirk Allen on a faraway planet. He also learned he could spend a year or more as the spacefaring Allen and return to Earth, where only a few minutes had passed.

Here’s how he described the experience to Lindner: . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

I perhaps should note that Cordwainer Smith was a very fine science-fiction writer — one of my favorite authors.

Written by Leisureguy

20 September 2020 at 7:06 pm

Move past talk therapy

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An interesting post by Catherine Andrews:

Welcome! If you’re here, you’ve been reading my Sunday Soother newsletter (subscribe here) on modalities, tactics and approaches to help you move to healing and wholeness beyond talk therapy. I recommend first reading my post on why talk therapy was no longer enough for me.

Here are several of my favorite resources and tools, broken into three sections. Section 1: To try if you have anxiety. Section 2: To try if you have emotional overwhelm (which can look like lashing out, getting triggered, getting super defensive, shutting down completely, or anywhere in between) and Section 3: How to stop believing things that no longer serve you so you can create a life you want.

I should say, though I’ve grouped them in those three areas, any tool from any section is going to help you. They are all lovely modalities, geared towards addressing the physical body, the emotional body, and the subconscious mind, and they can all certainly help no matter what you are dealing with.

Just pick one that jumps out to you as a starting point, try it out, and dip in and out of these approaches. Right now I’m heavy into hip yoga, breathwork, and conscious breathing, but previously I’ve been into hypnosis, inner child work, and others. These tools are meant to be used over a lifetime, and different tools will be needed at different times. Don’t try to do everything at once; trust that you will know what you are called to when it’s time.

If you are struggling with anxiety, try…

Conscious breathing: If you were to pick any practice off of this list and make it a daily habit, I would advise this one. Conscious breathing is the first thing I assign to my clients and I do it myself daily and it’s made the biggest impact on my anxiety out of anything I’ve tried. Conscious breathing is merely aware, controlled breathing. It helps anxiety because it helps tone the vagus nerve (the vagus nerve is a cranial nerve from the brainstem to the colon that carries sensory information and is critical in regulating the nervous system) and send messages to your nervous system that all is under control. There are lots of different kinds but I practice alternate nostril breathing and 4-7-8 breathing daily, and I explain them in a video here. Try alternate nostril breathing for 3-5 minutes a day. It’s crucial to make this a regular practice, not just something you do when your anxiety is heightened, though that will help some.

Yoga: No duh, you might be saying. Well, specifically I recommend hip and hamstring yoga videos. My favorite is this one, just 20 minutes. We carry anxiety and fear and other heavy emotions in our hips and our hips are often so tight from sitting all day those emotions are never able to release. Yoga focused on hips and hamstrings will settle your anxiety and fear that is stuck in your hips. Of course, any kind of yoga practice is generally excellent for anxiety and mental health.

Another yoga pose I ask my clients to do a few times a week nightly is legs up the wall before bed.

Soundbaths: The practice of sound bathing, as the name suggests, is the practice of being deeply immersed in sounds and vibrations, usually that come from crystal or metal bowls. You lie down, the practitioner plays the bowls for 30-60 minutes, and you come out of it refreshed and grounded. It’s relaxing, and there’s also science behind why it may work. This article states, “There’s speculation that certain sounds — in particular, binaural beats created by playing two different sound frequencies at the same time — may actually shift brain activity into beneficial brain wave states. Just as sounds oscillate at different frequencies, which are measured in hertz, so too does the brain’s electrical activity. And there’s evidence that listening to specific binaural tones may adjust the brain’s electrical activity in ways that reduce anxiety and pain while promoting memory and attention improvements.” Of course these are normally held in person but there are lots of virtual sound baths going on now that you can attend. Before COVID I was attending sound baths at recharj in DC, and they now offer some online.

Micronutrients + diet: There is emerging evidence that particular deficiencies in vitamins and minerals play a much bigger role than we thought in anxiety and depression (insomnia too, and lots of other issues). In particular, B12, magnesium and Vitamin D are important to include in your diet and via supplementation. Check with a doctor, naturopath or nutritionist to see if you may have a deficiency in any of these areas and supplement accordingly.

Baths with epsom salts + magnesium spray: Baths are just wonderfully calming as they are, but when you add epsom salts and magnesium into them, they will truly work to help settle your body and nervous system. This strategy will particularly help with sleep, too, especially if you use magnesium spray on the bottom of your feet before bed.

Earthing: Earthing is merely the practice of sitting your butt in dirt (grass, dirt, sand, whatever) or walking barefoot on those surfaces. Anything that gets you back into and connected to nature is going to lessen your anxiety, but there’s also more to it. Dr. Andrew Weil writes, ““Earthing” also called “grounding” stems from the idea that in modern city life we no longer have direct physical contact with the Earth, and therefore are losing out on purported health benefits of exchanging electrons with the surface of our planet. A handful of small studies have found that grounding appears to provide some general health benefits, such as better sleep, less pain, reduced stress and tension, and better immune function compared to study participants who weren’t grounded.”

If you are struggling with emotional overwhelm, try…

I think of emotional overwhelm as an outsized emotional reaction to a situation that you feel is out of your conscious control. Angry outbursts, emotional shutdowns, or anything in between can be placed in this category. When we are feeling emotional overwhelm, generally I find that we are out of touch with our emotions; that we grew up in a househould that did not permit healthy expression of emotions; that we are operating from an emotionally wounded place. The tools below should help you get back in touch with these emotions so that you can more easily balance and regulate them and spend less time in outbursts or shutdowns.

Inner child work: Inner child work was for me, groundbreaking, and one of the most impactful tools that helped me come to wholeness within myself. The inner child includes . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

20 September 2020 at 6:50 pm

Tempeh working better now

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This is after 24 hours, and it’s much better than before. I see that the larger holes are not such a good idea — I went for the bigger holes when I thought the problem was not enough air available. For next batch, I’ll return to the small holes. (The problem was the temperature: my little oven with door closed and light on gets hot enough (91ºF) to kill the mold. I am using the oven with light open and door ajar, held open by a wooden spatula handle: closing the door on the handle leaves a slight gap that seems to be enough.

I would like to get (or make) a proofing box someday, but in the meantime I think I have a solution.

Written by Leisureguy

20 September 2020 at 12:28 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Non-animal diet

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The tortured logic from right-wing media about replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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Margaret Sullivan writes in the Washington Post:

Back in 2016 and early 2017, Fox News was the self-satisfied home to a great deal of principled thinking about the importance of the American people’s will.

Here, for example, was Laura Ingraham, voicing her approval of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s machinations to bypass Obama nominee Merrick Garland and get conservative justice Neil M. Gorsuch onto the Supreme Court bench after Trump’s election:

“The last 70 years, a Supreme Court justice was not confirmed in the final year of a president’s term,” preached the future Fox host, then a frequent guest on “Hannity.” She fretted that it “doesn’t matter” to left-leaning partisans. This was lofty-sounding but wrong: To pick just one of many examples to the contrary, the Democratic-controlled Senate unanimously confirmed President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Anthony M. Kennedy in early 1988, an election year.

Fox hosts Sean Hannity and Dana Perino, too, signaled their approval of stonewalling Obama’s nomination pick.

“You know, it’s interesting — what goes around, comes around,” Hannity opined, mentioning McConnell’s citation of the supposed “Biden rule” to justify the move. “Why should the Republicans act any different?”

There was no such rule, though: Joe Biden, as a senator from Delaware in 1992, had been discussing, in a 1992 speech, “a hypothetical situation involving a voluntary resignation, not a death, that never came to pass,” as Matt Gertz of Media Matters pointed out.

Such high-mindedness was in short supply during Fox’s popular opinion segments on Friday evening. While Fox’s news team gave ample attention to the life and career of the just-deceased Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and TV news across the spectrum discussed the likely next maneuvers in filling her vacancy, nothing was as raw as the comments by conservative activist Ned Ryun.

“This is an opportunity, and I say they seize the moment,” urged Ryun, founder of the grass-roots candidate-training factory American Majority, in an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, barely an hour after news broke of Ginsburg’s death.

For his part, Carlson did have the grace to suggest it might be well to tone things down in those initial hours and wait a bit to respect Ginsburg’s memory. But he also threw doubt on a credible report that Ginsburg had expressed her “most fervent wish” that the next president would appoint her replacement.

“It’s hard to believe, and I’m going to choose not to believe that she said that, because I don’t think that people on their deathbeds are thinking about who’s president. You hope not — that’s a pretty limited way to think as you die. But certainly this will be used as a cudgel by the left.”

The problem is that her words, according to NPR’s reporting, were not uttered in her final hours but a few days earlier in a conversation with her grandchild.

Fox News, though, wasn’t the only place to find tortured logic and misrepresentations.

“Ted Cruz with an excellent point,” tweeted Marc Thiessen, the American Enterprise Institute fellow and Washington Post columnist. “If election is litigated can’t risk having just 8 justices and the possibility of a deadlocked court. Could cause a constitutional crisis.”

There were thousands of retweets and likes, but a number of people who pointed out that Cruz and Thiessen seem to have short memories. After all, there was an ideologically split eight-member court in November of 2016 — for the very reasons discussed above. (Also, if you’re worried about a constitutional crisis, how about an election settled with the help of a justice Trump just appointed?)

In coming days, you can be sure to hear and read about such things as the “Thurmond rule,” the “McConnell Rule,” the “Biden rule” — none of which exist in law, and sometimes not even in writing. At most, they are conventions, not rules.

(According to the Brookings Institution, Strom Thurmond, the longtime senator from South Carolina who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, is credited with an “unwritten admonition” that “in presidential election years, the Senate should stop processing judicial nominations around the time of its summer recess, perhaps with limited exceptions for clearly non-controversial nominees.”) . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

20 September 2020 at 9:13 am

The battle over dyslexia: Is it a thing, after all?

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I thought this article was interesting, but an American parent of a dyslexic child ccommented:

Oh my god! As if there is no way to diagnose dyslexia other than a discrepancy between IQ and reading ability?! What a poorly researched article — but not surprising, given the British cultural prejudices around learning differences and mental illnesses.

Sirin Kale writes in the Guardian:

Julian “Joe” Elliott was training to be an educational psychologist when his supervisor invited him to lunch one day. The year was 1984, and Elliott was 28. As they were eating, Elliott’s supervisor mentioned that he had spent the morning testing a child for dyslexia. He had determined the child was dyslexic, and put her on a programme called Data-Pac, a new approach to teaching literacy which paired teachers with children for individual sessions that taught them how to sound out letter combinations. Elliott asked what he would have recommended if the child hadn’t been dyslexic. His supervisor appeared sheepish. He would have put her on Data-Pac anyway, he said.

Elliott thought that was weird, but what did he know? He qualified as an educational psychologist in 1986 and began practising. Over the next decade, he was often asked to assess children for dyslexia. At this time, most educational psychologists believed that dyslexia was a learning difficulty with a neurological basis, which affected bright children whose difficulties reading and writing could not be explained by the usual factors, such as low IQ, not having attended school or having a chaotic home life. The method for diagnosing dyslexia, known as the discrepancy model, was relatively straightforward: test a child’s IQ and their reading age, and if there was a discrepancy between the two – average-to-high IQ, low literacy – that child was dyslexic. Elliott felt unsure about these assessments. The children he tested for dyslexia all struggled to read and write – that much was clear – but their literacy difficulties manifested in different ways. Elliott was still junior, and he chalked up this sense of uncertainty to imposter syndrome.

In 1998, Elliott co-wrote a guide for teachers working with children with special needs. The book was nominated for the Times Educational Supplement’s academic book of the year award, but if Elliott was being honest with himself, the chapter on dyslexia wasn’t up to much. “It was a bit of a shitty chapter, really,” Elliott told me. “I hadn’t got a handle on it.” Six years later, when his publishers asked him to write a second edition of the book, he was determined to nail the chapter on dyslexia. He was older now, more experienced. He collected every study on dyslexia he could find and started reading.

In his research, Elliott came across one particularly startling paper. In 1964, a young researcher called Bill Yule was sent to the Isle of Wight to carry out fieldwork on dozens of schoolchildren with reading difficulties. Yule was in no doubt that many of the children he studied suffered horrendously in trying to read and write. He saw it firsthand. But Yule – who would become one of the leading educational psychologists of his generation – couldn’t find a pattern of indicators, common to all the children he tested, that would coalesce into a single syndrome called dyslexia. Each child’s literacy problems seemed to be different.

Elliott made a note of Yule’s study and continued researching. Until the 70s, dyslexia had been a way to explain why intelligent children couldn’t read. But in the 80s, research started coming out which suggested that your IQ had no bearing on your ability to read or write. (One of the first critiques of the discrepancy model was published in 1980, and further papers debunking the model were published throughout the 90s.) Intelligence and reading ability weren’t connected, meaning that dyslexia could no longer be defined as a condition that affected only bright children who struggled to read. Anyone, with any level of intelligence, could be dyslexic.

Hunkered in his study, piles of academic papers at his feet, Elliott asked himself: if you couldn’t test dyslexia by means of IQ, how could you test for it? If Yule hadn’t been able to find a uniform diagnostic criteria – a pattern that fit all the dyslexic children he’d studied – was it even a condition at all? And what was the point in testing for something if, as his supervisor had acknowledged over lunch all those years ago, the treatment was the same, regardless of whether you had it or not? “That’s when the penny dropped,” Elliott says. “It was all bollocks.”

Since that day, Elliott, a professor of education at Durham University, has made it his mission to challenge the orthodoxy on dyslexia. He argues that there is essentially no difference between a person who struggles to read and write and a person with dyslexia – and no difference in how you should teach them. Dyslexia is such a broad term, he argues, that it is effectively meaningless. According to Elliott, we should stop using the word dyslexia, and with it the need for an educational psychologist to diagnose what is plain for all to see: that a child is struggling to read and write. Instead, we should be trying to help all children with literacy difficulties, not just those who have been diagnosed with dyslexia.

Elliott is relaxed about stirring up controversy – he sometimes gives the impression he quite enjoys it. He receives hate mail fairly regularly. “A pantomime baddy … the word bully comes to mind,” is how one specialist dyslexia teacher characterised Elliott, after seeing him talk at an event. Elliott is like “a climate-change denier”, Callum Heckstall-Smith, then head of communications for the British Dyslexia Association (BDA), told me. “[He] has absolutely no backing academically,” said Lord Addington, a Liberal Democrat peer and president of the BDA, when I mentioned Elliott.

Yet although not all experts agree with Elliott, the truth is that his views have found favour among many educational psychologists. “Joe is not, I think, a maverick,” says Prof Simon Gibbs of Newcastle University. “His and my view, based on the available scientific evidence, is that there is no hard, fast or easy way to diagnose dyslexia.” It’s a view shared by Greg Brooks, emeritus professor of education at Sheffield University, who reviewed all the available definitions of dyslexia in 2004. “No two definitions agreed,” says Brooks. “Long before I met Joe, I also came to the same conclusions as him.” According to Vivian Hill, professor of educational psychology at University College London, “All Joe is doing is telling people what the scientific research is saying”. In January, Elliott was given an outstanding achievement award by the British Psychological Society, in recognition of his work on dyslexia.

For Elliott, this is not just a matter of scientific accuracy. He also believes that the current system entrenches inequality, because children from poorer backgrounds tend to be less likely to be diagnosed with dyslexia. “Reading difficulties are real. I’ve seen thousands of kids with reading difficulties,” he told me. “You know what? Very few of the ones I saw in the inner cities, in the council estates, get diagnosed with dyslexia.”


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I
n recent years, the work of Elliott and like-minded scientists has proved increasingly influential in the UK. In 2018, two local authorities – Staffordshire and Warwickshire – announced that they would no longer differentiate between children with dyslexia and children with literacy difficulties. “It is widely accepted that the diagnosis of dyslexia is scientifically questionable,” the guidance – which outlined both local authorities’ provision for children with literacy difficulties – explained.

Instead, they would teach all children equally, partly making use of a pioneering approach that focuses on teaching children to read and write the 100 most commonly used words in the English language, which cumulatively account for 53% of all written English. The approach was piloted in 14 Staffordshire primary schools during a year-long study in 2011. In one school, within eight months, the number of students who had fallen behind with their reading halved, dropping from 60% of the children surveyed to just 32%. Larger studies, using this approach, showed that the incidence of reading difficulties was reduced from 20-25% to between 3-5%.

Despite the success of the earlier pilot scheme, there was strong opposition to Staffordshire and Warwickshire’s announcement in 2018. In October, the BDA president Lord Addington raised the issue in the House of Lords. Addington is a hereditary peer and, since 2011, chair of Microlink, a company that has received £132.3m in government contracts since 2003 to supply assistive technology to students with disabilities, including dyslexia. During the ensuing debate, one peer wondered whether Warwickshire and Staffordshire had “also advised their residents that the Earth is actually flat and that there is no such thing as global warming”. Anxious parents besieged the phone lines of at least one local dyslexia charity, asking whether their dyslexic children would no longer receive help; the BDA gave statements to the specialist education press and the Telegraph, alleging that both local authorities were simply looking to cut costs.

When we met in his narrow House of Lords office late last year, Addington told me that he became concerned about what was happening in Staffordshire and Warwickshire the minute he read the paper outlining the new guidance, which was brought to him by the BDA. “I thought, right, this contradicts the law in numerous places,” said Addington. He felt the guidance stated that dyslexia didn’t exist. “If you’re telling me that dyslexia doesn’t really exist, I’m afraid my everyday experience of life says you’re wrong.” (Addington is dyslexic.) “I said: ‘I’m not having this.’” During the course of our conversation, Addington said that he didn’t speak to the local authorities involved, or the researchers behind the schools pilot, before publicly lobbying to have their policy scrapped. “I criticised them publicly because I suspected what they were doing was wrong,” he explained. “If I’m sitting down there, and I’m any use in parliament at all, I’ll follow my own judgment.”

The debate in the House of Lords – and the flat Earth comments in particular – sent shockwaves through the British educational psychology community. “Neither authority was denying the existence of children with difficulties in reading, or saying that they don’t believe children that others label as dyslexic are not worthy of attention or note. They were trying to help everyone!” Jonathan Solity, an honorary lecturer at UCL, whose research underpinned the Warwickshire and Staffordshire guidance, told me with exasperation. A follow-up event held at UCL in January 2019, at which the Staffordshire and Warwickshire team argued their case, was attended by nearly 200 educational psychologists and watched online by thousands more – a major event in the small world of educational psychology.

Yet by the end of 2019, Staffordshire had dropped the guidance and Warwickshire had also pulled it, pending review. (Both authorities declined to speak with me for this article.) It was the first-ever attempt by a British local authority to ditch dyslexia, and it had failed. But it was also a rare public skirmish in a conflict that has been quietly fought over the past two decades in classrooms, lecture theatres, select committee hearings and special educational needs tribunals across Britain. On one side an emerging collective of academic and local authority educational psychologists, pushing for educators to drop a definition of dyslexia they view as scientifically vague and socially exclusionary. On the other dyslexia advocates, some academics and the parents of dyslexic children, who vigorously defend dyslexia as a meaningful concept that has helped millions of children access support and understanding for their literacy difficulties.

Both sides tend to proceed with implacable certainty, often caricaturing their opponents as unfeeling bureaucrats determined to deny dyslexic children the support they desperately need, or pushy parents determined to secure advantage for their offspring, come what may. “If you want to cause an academic riot,” writes Janice Edwards in The Scars of Dyslexia, “just shout, ‘let’s discuss dyslexia!’ to a hall randomly filled with educational psychologists, assorted educational ‘experts’, politicians, teachers, and parents. Then retire gracefully and watch the mayhem commence.” When I told Greg Brooks about the piece I was writing, he let out a long, delighted laugh. “You don’t know what you’re getting into,” he said. “It’s horribly contentious and horribly messy.” Later, he emailed: “Good luck … prepare for ordure to be hurled.”


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Ahuman being cannot learn to read and write on their own. Unlike speaking or walking, say, it must be taught. Most people in the UK will learn to read and write by the age of seven, but about 20% of the population will struggle to reach this level, and about half of these people are believed to be dyslexic, although not all of these people will be diagnosed. Dyslexic people may look at a piece of text and skip words, or switch letters around. When writing, they sometimes grope for the word they want to use but can’t spell it, so opt for a shorter, imprecise alternative. To the dyslexic student learning to read, books aren’t a portal into another world, but a door that keeps slamming in their face.

The term dyslexia, meaning “difficulty with words”, was coined by a German ophthalmologist, Rudolf Berlin, in 1887, after Berlin noticed that some of his patients struggled to read the printed word during eye tests, leading him to speculate that there may be some neurological reason for their difficulties. In the late 19th century, researchers characterised dyslexia as a disorder that only affects intelligent children with literacy difficulties – a myth that persists to this day.

By the time Bill Yule turned up on the Isle of Wight, fresh out of graduate school, academics knew there were a cohort of children who experienced persistent and unexplained reading difficulties. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

20 September 2020 at 8:40 am

A history & politics chat from Dr. Heather Cox Richardson

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She has a series of these. They are informative. Here’s one:

Written by Leisureguy

20 September 2020 at 8:34 am

Posted in Politics

Tagged with

The unreported aspects of the Trump pharma deal (that fell through)

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One problem with many news reports is that the reporter lacks sufficient knowledge to file a meaningful report — like having a lifestyle reporter cover a science conference: the reporter misses the significance of what’s going on, doesn’t know what questions to ask, is unaware of the significance of information that’s not mentioned, doesn’t understand the implications of what is said, and so on.

That seems to be what happened when the NY Times reported on Trump’s pharmaceutical deal. Kevin Drum explains in this post in Mother Jones:

The New York Times reports that although President Trump was close to a deal with pharmaceutical companies that would reduce drug costs by $150 billion, the deal broke apart at the last minute when he also insisted that they pay for $100 “cash cards” for all seniors before the election. But why was this a deal breaker?

Some of the drugmakers bridled at being party to what they feared would be seen as an 11th-hour political boost for Mr. Trump, the people familiar with the matter said….One drug company executive said they worried about the optics of having the chief executives of the country’s leading pharmaceutical makers stand with the president in the Rose Garden as he hoisted an oversized card and gloated about helping a crucial bloc of voters.

Observant readers should immediately notice two suspicious things about this narrative. First, $150 billion is more than pharma companies earn from the entire American market. A deal of that size would wipe out their profits completely.

Second, . . .

Continue reading. Note how the reporter accepted at face value what “people familiar with the matter said.” The reporter probably felt that his/her report was good — that is what those people said — but lacked the subject-specific knowledge (in this case, business knowledge in general and knowledge of the corporate culture of Big Pharma in particular, along with ignorance regarding the intricacies of corporate finance) to know that what those people said didn’t make any sense.

Written by Leisureguy

20 September 2020 at 6:53 am

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