“Right now, the majority of published scientific findings — and the vast majority of prestigious new research — is hidden behind paywalls. Most of the top scientific publications charge readers high fees for access, with prices that are rising faster than inflation. An annual membership with Nature costs $199, Science starts at $79 per year, and The Lancet charges $227. And these are only a few of the hundreds of journals where new research appears.
This money goes to publishers, not to the academics who actually write scientific papers.”
“in a bid to tear down the paywall and make science more accessible to all, the White House last month announced new guidelines requiring that all taxpayer-funded research, including data used for a study, be made public at no cost by the end of 2025.
The Biden plan is one of the biggest wins yet for the “open science” movement. In practice, it often refers to publishing the papers that describe new scientific findings immediately and without paywalls. It can also include publicly sharing full datasets and code used for analysis.”
“Freeing research largely paid for by taxpayer money can seem like a no-brainer, but over time, the potential downsides of open science efforts like the Plan S mandate have become more apparent. While pay-to-publish but free-to-read platforms bring more research to the public, they can add barriers for researchers and worsen some existing inequalities in academia. Scientific publishing will remain a for-profit industry and a highly lucrative one for publishers. Shifting the fees onto authors doesn’t change this.
Many of the newly founded open-access journals drop the fees entirely, but even if they’re not trying to make a profit, they still need to cover their operating costs. They fall back on ad revenue, individual donations or philanthropic grants, corporate sponsorship, and even crowdfunding.
But open-access platforms often lack the prestige of well-known top journals like Nature. Scientists early in their careers — as well as those at less wealthy universities in low-income countries — often rely on precarious, short-term grant funding to carry out their research. Their career depends on putting out an impressive publication record, which is already an uphill battle.
The established journals are reluctant to commit to open access, since submission fees may deter potential researchers from sending in their work. And if journals don’t charge submission fees or reader subscriptions, they’ll have to turn to other sources of income, which may be unsustainable in the long run.”
“It really looks that we had as much technological change and progress between 1870 and today as we had between 6000 BC and 1870 AD. We packed what had previously been nearly eight millennia of changes in the underlying technological hardware of society, which required changes in the running sociological code on top of that hardware. To try to pack what had been eight millennia worth of changes before in 150 years is going to produce an awful lot of history.
Before 1870, most of history is how elites run their force-and-fraud, domination-and-extraction mechanism against a poor peasantry so that they, at least, can have enough, and so that their children are only two inches shorter than we are, rather than five or six as the peasants are. It’s about how the elites elbow each other out of the way as they eat from the trough. And it’s about the use they make of their wealth for purposes good and ill, of civilization and destruction.
But if you’re enough of a Marxist, like me, to say that the real motor of history is the forces of production, their changes, and how society reacts for good or ill to changing forces of production, then yes, [1870 to 2010] has to be as consequential because there’s as much technological change-driven history as there is in entire millennia before.”
“you look worldwide and you take my index of technological progress, and it [grows by] less than half a percent per year from 1770 to 1870. That’s based on exploitation of really cheap coal and also on the productivity benefits of falling transport costs that gather all of the manufacturing in the world into the place [the United Kingdom] where it’s most productive and most efficient, because it’s the place where coal is cheapest.
I was struck by a line I came across from the 1871 version of John Stuart Mill’s Principles of Political Economy: “Hitherto it is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day’s toll of any human being.”
Say you have some slowdown in global technological progress after 1870 because the cheapest coal has already been mined and the deeper coal is hard to find, and say that you have some other slowdown because you don’t get the boost from gathering manufacturing in places where it’s productive. We might well have wound up right with a steampunk world after 1870: a world with about the population of today, but the living standards of 1870 on average.
That’s what the pace of progress was, except that we got the industrial research lab, the modern corporation, and then full globalization around 1870. The industrial research lab rationalized and routinized the discovery and development of technologies; the corporation rationalized and routinized the development and deployment of technologies; and globalization diffused them everywhere.”
“Despite their cost, the Zumwalts have been plagued by equipment problems. Soon after its commissioning in 2016, the USS Zumwalt broke down in the Panama Canal. The second ship in its class, the USS Michael Monsoor, failed during sea trials the following year.
As a 2018 report from Military Watch Magazine noted the Zumwalts “suffered from poorly functioning weapons, stalling engines, and an underperformance in their stealth capabilities, among other shortcomings.”
“They have almost entirely failed to fulfill the originally intended role of multipurpose destroyer warships, while the scale of cost overruns alone brings the viability of the program into question even if the destroyers were able to function as intended,” the outlet said.
The Zumwalts lack several vital features, including anti-ship missiles, anti-submarine torpedoes, and long-range area-air defense missiles, the military expert Sebastian Roblin wrote in a 2021 National Interest article. Roblin called the destroyers an “ambitious but failed ship concept.”
And, noted Roblin, their weaponry wasn’t cheap. The ship’s long-range land-attack projectile guided shells cost roughly $800,000 each — about the same price as a cruise missile. The munitions were eventually canceled, considered too pricey to merit producing.
Roblin said the Zumwalt was produced based on “unrealistic” estimates that banked on minimal cost, despite coming in 50% over budget.”
“Congress directed the Army to stop funding the long-range cannon in its fiscal 2022 appropriations act, and “based on that direction, the Secretary of the Army decided to terminate the [SLRC] project this year,” Ellen Lovett, Army spokesperson said in a May 20 statement to Defense News.
The decision also “eliminates potential redundancy, and ensures we effectively use tax dollars to achieve modernization objectives,” she wrote. “Pursuing the effort could cost billions of dollars even if the science and technology effort succeeded because the Army would have to enter into a development program, procure the system, and create entirely new units to operate it.”
The Army still has four other long-range fires programs set to reach operational Army units in 2023”
“How the virus spreads among wildlife is a black box that scientists try to peer into through the tiniest of pinpricks. But what they do know is that when the coronavirus establishes itself in wildlife, it creates for itself a sort of insurance policy. We may be able to get the pandemic among humans under control, but the virus is likely to lurk in other species, making it that much harder to monitor and defeat.
The spread of SARS-CoV-2 in wildlife is not the most pressing issue of the pandemic right now. Humans are still catching the virus from each other and dying from it. Still, these wildlife risks, if they are realized, could have serious consequences. Scientists want to be vigilant about dangers that could emerge from the wilderness.”
“Infections have turned up in cats, dogs, lions, tigers, pumas, ferrets, mink, certain rodents, snow leopards, and others. The CDC even has guidelines to protect pets from Covid-19. When a virus jumps from animals to humans and then back to animals, scientists call that spillback.
Most of these infections in animals appeared to be self-contained. An infected house cat presumably stays in the house when infected — it doesn’t start a chain of transmission. “They were all isolated cases,” Suresh Kuchipudi, a Penn State infectious disease researcher who collaborated with Kapur, says of known cases in animals.
The deer infections were different. “This is first time that a completely free-living animal species in the wild has been found to be infected, and that infection is widespread,” Kuchipudi says.
How the deer got infected in the first place remains a mystery, but researchers believe the outbreak came from humans. The virus circulating in the deer had similar genetic sequences to the virus circulating in humans at the time that they got it.”
“Whatever happened to start the deer outbreaks, it appears to have happened many times. The genetic analysis in the PNAS paper finds evidence of several separate jumps from humans into animals. Further research needs to be done to identify the exact pathway, and hopefully to prevent the next leap.
Once the virus jumps into the deer, they are also spreading it to each other, the studies find. “There was not just human-to-deer spillover, but there was also deer-to-deer transmission, as evidenced by genomic changes that would confirm that,” Kuchipudi says.”
“The pandemic in humans is much more urgent than Covid-19 in animals. All of the scientists I spoke to agreed about that. The coronavirus is still killing thousands of people every day, and that’s the problem that should get the bulk of our attention and resources.”
“On the other hand, the scientists say they want more visibility into what’s happening in the animal world. “We need wildlife surveillance,” Olson says, meaning more testing of animals for coronavirus antibodies — a sign they have been exposed — or active infections. “We just don’t have the tools to begin to understand the system, to even start mapping what’s going to happen here, because our ability to see it is so opaque right now.””
“Covid-19 outbreaks in animals are not situations we can plausibly control. Rather, they’re something to monitor in case they start to look like pressing problems.”
“Many of pot’s effects are tangled in contradictory research, but there are a few clear health risks to consuming the drug. Smoking cannabis regularly can cause bronchitis-like symptoms, and research published last month found that chronic cannabis users, defined as people who used pot at least four times a week for more than three years, had impaired pancreatic function. There have also been cases of daily cannabis users developing pancreatitis without having any other obvious risk factors.
Regular pot use has also been associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety and poorer life outcomes like being unemployed, but causality has not been established because other factors could predispose someone both to using cannabis and having a mental illness or not having a job.
There’s also evidence that cannabis can be dangerous when used in certain situations, like during pregnancy or while driving a vehicle. A recent study linked increasing rates of childhood leukemia to an increase in cannabis use, and a separate study found a correlation between women using cannabis while pregnant and their children having higher rates of anxiety. There’s also evidence that using pot while pregnant can lead to lower birth weights, although that evidence is still considered limited. And driving a car while high has been shown to moderately increase the risk of getting into a motor vehicle accident.
Addiction can be an issue as well. Some people who smoke pot develop what’s called cannabis use disorder (CUD), a clinical diagnosis of problematic and uncontrollable cannabis use. There’s evidence that CUD rates have increased since 2008, but Dr. Kevin Hill, an addiction psychiatrist and professor at Harvard Medical School, told FiveThirtyEight in an email that “it is still important to point out that most people who use cannabis don’t have a problem with it.”
The 2020 NSDUH found that 4.1 percent of people ages 12-17 met the criteria for CUD,1 13.5 percent of people ages 18 to 25 had the disorder, and 4 percent of people over age 26 had the disorder. Yet those numbers were below rates of alcohol use disorder across all age groups in 2020’s survey.
Deborah Hasin, an epidemiologist at Columbia University, said she is very concerned about adults’ increasing use of cannabis because CUD is associated with poorer quality of life, cognitive decline and impaired educational and occupational employment. Hasin’s research has found that 19.5 percent of people who use cannabis met the criteria of CUD in their lifetimes.
“It’s clear that not everybody who smokes marijuana has all of these problems, but the risk is there, and it’s a greater risk than people assume,” Hasin said.
Using cannabis frequently increases the risks of developing CUD, and frequent pot use is growing among adults. Monthly use for 26-to-34-year-olds has more than doubled since 2008, and the share of people getting at least five days a week increased from 5.8 to 13.8 percent between 2008 and 2019, according to NSDUH survey results.”
“A 2016 study that followed a group of New Zealand adults for 20 years found that cannabis use was associated with worse gum health, but better cholesterol levels, lower BMI and reduced waist circumference.
Those results were further substantiated in a 2020 study that looked at cannabis use among people over the age of 60. Cannabis users in the study exercised more often and had a significantly lower BMI than non-users.
While there’s evidence that BMI, which measures only weight and height, is not the best way to gauge health for people who are normal weight or are slightly overweight, very high BMI scores are significantly associated with mortality.”
“when Ben Carson made a bid to become the GOP’s first African American presidential nominee. Support for Carson was positively correlated with the belief that Black Americans have too much influence on U.S. politics”
“whites who thought African Americans have “far too much” influence preferred Carson to Clinton by 45 points.
Again, much of that relationship is down to partisanship — Republicans are more likely to hold prejudiced views and also more likely to support a Republican candidate. But that’s the point: For many white GOP voters, anti-Black views don’t seem to get in the way of supporting a Black Republican.”
“Carson received more favorable evaluations among the sizable minority (40 percent) of overtly prejudiced whites who agreed with the racist stereotype that “most African Americans are more violent than most whites.” This group rated Carson significantly more favorably on a 0-100 scale than the white moderate Republican presidential candidate, Jeb Bush (52 to 39, respectively). Then-candidate Donald Trump was the only politician in the survey who was rated higher than Carson among overtly prejudiced whites.”
“The sharp negative relationship between support for Obama and the endorsement of anti-Black stereotypes is consistent with several studies showing that prejudice was an unusually strong predictor of opposition to Obama from the 2008 election through the end of his presidency. These patterns also fit well with other political science research showing that racially prejudiced whites tend to be more opposed to Black Democrats than to white Democrats.”
“Given the racialized nature of the two-party system in the United States, most Black political candidates are Democrats who embrace liberal positions on issues of race and justice. When asked whether they would support such a candidate, research shows that racially prejudiced white voters worry that these candidates will represent the interests of Black Americans, both because of a shared African American identity and because Democrats are perceived as the party more supportive of Black interests. So, it makes sense that racially resentful white Americans oppose candidates like Obama, as his racial identity and partisanship signaled to voters that he was more supportive of Black interests than prior presidents.
Put another way: Racially prejudiced white voters are not opposed to Black candidates simply because they are Black, but because they believe that most Black candidates will fight for “those people” and not “people like us.”
Black Republicans, on the other hand, are perceived differently by racially prejudiced white Americans. Their embrace of the Republican Party and its conservative ideology help assure racially prejudiced whites that, unlike Black Democrats, they are not in the business of carrying water for their own racial group.”
“voting for Black Republicans may also be especially appealing to racially prejudiced whites because it assuages concerns of being seen as racist by enabling them to say, in essence, “I can’t be racist! I voted for a Black candidate!” Psychologists call this “moral credentialing,” and there’s even some evidence that voters who expressed support for Obama shortly after the 2008 election felt more justified in favoring white Americans over Black Americans. Electing a Black Republican like Sears, who railed against critical race theory during the run-up to the election and supports voting restrictions that adversely affect racial minorities, is similarly used as a symbolic shield by the entire party from inevitable charges of championing racist policies. As we mentioned earlier, conservative media outlets and politicians are already weaponizing her victory against anyone who would dare suggest so.”
“Millions of veterans are self-medicating their war-caused ailments with marijuana, and they are frustrated the VA continues to dismiss the drug’s possible benefits. The VA will not expand the piecemeal cannabis research it is undertaking, despite recent bipartisan calls from Congress, doctors and veterans. And without that research, the VA continues to deny cannabis recommendations to veterans in 36 states that allow medical marijuana.”
“What is not in dispute is that the NIH did provide $600,000 to the WIV, funneled through the EcoHealth Alliance research group, to study the risk that more bat-borne coronaviruses, like the 2003 outbreak of the SARS virus, would emerge in China. What is in contention is whether the NIH grant funded gain of function research at the WIV, and the entirely separate question of whether or not the COVID-19 coronavirus originated in that laboratory.”
“Those Chinese researchers took the known WIV1 coronavirus, the spike proteins of which already give it the ability to infect human cells using the ACE2 receptor, and then replaced it with spike proteins from newly discovered bat coronaviruses. The goal was to see if the spike proteins from the novel coronaviruses would be sufficient to replace the function of the WIV1 spike protein. The researchers found that two versions of the WIV1 virus modified with the novel spike proteins could still use the ACE2 receptor to infect and replicate in human cells in culture.
Is this gain of function research? To some extent, this controversy is somewhat reminiscent of President Bill Clinton’s notorious sophistic dodge, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
During the hearing, Paul cited statements from Richard Ebright, a long-time gain-of-function research critic and Rutgers University biologist, published by National Review back in May. “The Wuhan lab used NIH funding to construct novel chimeric SARS-related coronaviruses able to infect human cells and laboratory animals,” Ebright said. “This is high-risk research that creates new potential pandemic pathogens (i.e., potential pandemic pathogens that exist only in a lab, not in nature). This research matches—indeed epitomizes—the definition of ‘gain of function research of concern’ for which federal funding was ‘paused’ in 2014-2017.” At the hearing, Fauci responded to Paul’s assertions that the 2017 study “you were referring to was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain of function.”
In May, the NIH, in response to a query from the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, issued a statement declaring that the agency “has never approved any grant to support ‘gain-of-function’ research on coronaviruses that would have increased their transmissibility or lethality for humans. The research proposed in the EcoHealth Alliance, Inc., grant
application sought to understand how bat coronaviruses evolve naturally in
the environment to become transmissible to the human population.”
Robert Garry, a Tulane University virologist pointed out to Newsweek that the Wuhan experiments were done to study whether the bat coronaviruses could infect humans. What they didn’t do, he argued, was make the viruses “any better” at infecting people, which would be necessary for gain-of-function research. In other words, Garry does not think that the WIV research increased the virulence or transmissibility of the modified viruses.
On Twitter, King’s College London virologist Stuart Neil observed that “the EcoHealth grant [from the NIH] was judged by the vetting committee to not involve GoF [gain of function] because the investigators were REPLACING a function in a virus that ALREADY HAD human tropism rather than giving a function to one that could not infect humans.” Neil does acknowledge that “understandably this is a grey area.” He goes on to argue, “But whether I or anyone thinks in retrospect that this is or is not GoF, the NIH did not, so in that respect Fauci is NOT lying.”
Live Congressional testimony is not always coherent, but Paul seemed to be suggesting later in the hearing that the COVID-19 coronavirus could be a gain of function virus developed by the WIV that leaked from the institute’s laboratories. Fauci responded, “I totally resent the lie that you are now propagating, senator, because if you look at the viruses that were used in the experiments that were given in the annual reports that were published in the literature, it is molecularly impossible.” Fauci is right: One point on which all researchers do agree is that none of the viruses modified in the 2017 study could be the cause of the current pandemic. They are simply too genetically different to be the precursors of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
During their heated exchange, Paul backtracked a bit, “No one is saying that those viruses caused the pandemic. What we’re alleging is the gain of function research was going on in that lab and NIH funded it.” Neil observes that “all lab leak scenarios rest on the isolation and culture of either the immediate precursor of SARS-CoV-2 or the construction of a molecular clone from such a hitherto unidentified/undisclosed virus that could serve as a template for GoF experiments not covered by the NIH funding or required for its stated aims and thus far denied by the WIV and EcoHealth.” That is as may be, but Paul seems to be asserting a different claim, which is that the NIH funded some of the research that ended up training scientists at the WIV on how to use gain-of-function techniques that would enable them to develop, either intentionally or inadvertently, more virulent and lethal strains of coronaviruses.
So who is lying? Both Paul and Fauci can cite experts who agree with their interpretations of what the NIH funded at the WIV. Consequently, both men can reasonably believe that they are each telling the truth while the other is a dishonest fraud.
It is worth noting that an international team of researchers posted earlier this month a preprint analysis that finds that most of the evidence strongly points to a natural spillover of the virus. Still, whether or not the pandemic coronavirus leaked from the WIV’s labs is yet to be determined. The fact that the Chinese government has just rejected the World Health Organization’s follow-up investigation into the origins of the virus will certainly and properly continue to fuel suspicions that it did.”