A Look at Gun Ownership and Firearm Death Rates

It’s been dubbed the second deadliest school shooting in US history, after the 2007 Virginia Tech incident. If you’ve been watching the news, you’re probably already an expert in this tragedy. As opposed to previous gun massacres, this time around, the media has done a pretty good job at focusing on recovery rather than presenting the gory, rating-bringing details. But as I surfed the different channels covering Sandy Hook Elementary (and there were plenty), listening to discussions about gun control, gun violence and the factors playing into these incidents, few (if any) news commentators gave hard facts about gun ownership or gun deaths. And so, the journey for knowledge started; knowledge which I share with you in the figures and tables below. As a side note, I do not own a gun, although I will one day purchase one for my protection and leisure. Continue reading…

Did Low Uninsurance Rates Win Obama a Second Term?

Almost 122 million Americans visited the polls on November 6th to cast their votes in arguably one of the most controversial election cycles in decades. After three days of early ballots and a full day of voting, President Barrack Obama was re-elected and offered a second term as President of the United States of America, winning 332 of the 538 Electoral College votes. Voting behavior has been historically (and consistently) associated with values and attitudes related to beliefs, views on race, and even church attendance and reading a newspaper. Yet, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act (popularly known as Obamacare), the outcome of the 2012 elections weighed heavily on voter’s decision to keep or repeal it. Provisions included in the ACA are designed to increase access to preventive health services, giving access to health insurance to over 50 million uninsured Americans. Continue reading…

Picture a scientist as working on part of an enormous crossword puzzle: making an informed guess about some entry, checking and double checking its fit with the clue and already-completed intersecting entries, of those with their clues and yet other entries, weighing the likelihood that some of them might be mistaken, trying new entries in the light of this one, and so on. Much of the crossword is blank, but many entries are already completed, some in almost-indelible ink, some in regular ink, some in pencil, some heavily, some faintly. Some are in English, some in Swahili, some in Flemish, some in Esperanto, etc. In some areas many long entries are firmly inked in, in others few or none. Some entries were completed hundreds of years ago by scientists long dead, some only last week. At some times and places, on pain of firing or worse, only words from the Newspeak dictionary may be used; at others there is pressure to fill in certain entries this way rather than that, or to get going on this completely blank part of the puzzle rather than working on easier, partially filled-in parts-or not to work on certain parts of the puzzle at all. Rival teams squabble over some entries, penciled or even inked in and then rubbed out, perhaps in a dozen languages and a score of times. Other teams cooperate to devise a procedure to churn out all the anagrams of this chapter-long clue or a device to magnify that unreadably tiny one, or call to teams working on other parts of the puzzle to see if they already have something that could be adapted, or to ask how sure they are that it really must be an S here. Someone claims to notice a detail in this or that clue that no one else has seen; others devise tests to check whether he is an especially talented observer or is seeing things, and yet others work on instruments for looking more closely. From time to time accusations are heard of altered clues or blacked-out spaces. Sometimes there are complaints from those working on one part of the puzzle that their view of what’s going on in some other part is blocked. Now and then a long entry, intersecting with numerous others which intersect with numerous others, gets erased by a gang of young turks insisting that the whole of this area of the puzzle must be re-worked, this time, naturally, in Turkish-while others try, letter by letter, to see if most of the original Welsh couldn’t be kept …. I don’t mean to fob you off with a metaphor instead of an argument. But I do mean my word-picture to suggest, what I believe is true, that scientific inquiry is far messier, far less tidy, than the Old Defferentialists imagined; and yet far more constrained by the demands of evidence than the New Cynics dream.

The Uncertainty of Science

Technology: The Health Care Paradigm Shift

I’ve been involved with health care (one way or another) long enough to realize that there is no such thing as “the right answer.” What works for one country (in terms of policy, regulations, insurance coverage etc) won’t necessarily work for another. Yet I’ve noticed that one key component that’s role has remained stable and constant throughout the tribulations of health care reform: technology. As someone put it: with healthIT innovations, its not that people SHOULD pursue ventures, its that people NEED to pursue ventures. The money is there, the need couldn’t be greater, and with ever-growing government regulation (MU etc), the adoption is there as well. These are probably the most exciting times in health care in the last century, and I’m glad to be young enough to get the full experience. Continue reading…