Patients need rest, not antibiotics, say health officials

About to take an antibiotic

More patients should be told to go home and rest rather than be given antibiotics, according to health officials.

Public Health England (PHE) says up to a fifth of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary as many illnesses get better on their own.

Overusing the drugs is making infections harder to treat by creating drug-resistant superbugs.

PHE says patients have “a part to play” in stopping the rise of infections.

James Gallagher, BBC News, October 23, 2017

Body Cameras Have Little Effect on Police Behavior, Study Says

After a series of high-profile police shootings, police departments across the nation turned to body cameras, hoping they would curb abuses. But a rigorous study released Friday shows that they have almost no effect on officer behavior.

The 18-month study of more than 2,000 police officers in Washington found that officers equipped with cameras used force and prompted civilian complaints at about the same rate as those who did not have them.

Amanda Ripley and Timothy Williams, October 20, 2017

Popular Surgery To Ease Chronic Shoulder Pain Called Into Question

Research investigating a popular form of surgery aimed at easing chronic shoulder pain doesn’t fix the problem, a careful, placebo-controlled study suggests.

In the condition known as shoulder impingement, certain movements, such as reaching up to get something off a shelf, for example, or even scratching your own back, can be painful and get worse during a night of tossing and turning.

After six months, when patients once again filled out surveys of their pain and function, those who got any surgery — either sham or “real” — responded essentially the same way, Beard says. “There was no difference between the placebo surgery and the surgery which took the bone and tissue away.”

Patti Neighmond, NPR, November 20, 2017

Robots could replace nearly a third of the U.S. workforce by 2030

Over the next 13 years, the rising tide of automation will force as many as 70 million workers in the United States to find another way to make money, a new study from the global consultancy McKinsey predicts.

That means nearly a third of the American workforce could face the need to pick up new skills or enter different fields in the near future, said the report’s co-author, Michael Chui, a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute who studies business and economics.

“We believe that everyone will need to do retraining over time,” he said.

Danielle Paquette, Washington Post, November 30, 2017

Trump won, and Northam crushed Gillespie. Why believe polls ever again?

Back in 1962, Elmo Roper, a pioneer in public opinion polling, identified a problem in his field.
“A preference for certainty over doubt, for the plausible over the proved, for drama over accuracy, for hunch and intuition over the hard-to-assemble facts, is a common human tendency,” he

Fifty-five years later, Nate Silver — today’s political-statistics guru — has the same complaint.

“There’s a strong desire for a narrative, and a lot of groupthink,” the founder of told me last week.

Silver, not for the first time, argues that the numbers themselves are not to blame. In aggregate, and allowing for margins of error, they were reasonably accurate.

It’s the interpretation by journalists — particularly the pundit class — that’s to blame, he says. For one thing, they often don’t use the aggregation of the various polls, but rather a single one, often the most recent.

And they interpret them to create a dramatic — preferably surprising — horse-race story.

“They start out with an idea and backfill the justification,” using whichever numbers help make the case, Silver complains.

Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post, November 12, 2017

Sorry, But Daylight Saving Time Is Great

In reality, DST is an eight-month experiment designed to make life, well, more pleasurable for humans. The basic idea: In the Western world, we typically spend more awake time in the evenings than in the mornings. We also enjoy many benefits from being awake in the sunshine.  is a good place to read about vitamin D, increased exercise, increased socializing, and overall improvements to mental health that come with sunlight.

Dan Nosowitz, Yahoo! Finance, November 2, 2017

Birds might be evolving to eat from bird feeders, study says

A little bird common in the United Kingdom is identical in almost every way to its counterparts across the North Sea in the Netherlands: black and yellow feathers, splotches of white across the cheeks. But the British ones have slightly longer beaks, scientists say, and the reason might be British humans’ embrace of bird feeders.

In a study published Thursday in Science, researchers report that great tits in the United Kingdom evolved to have lengthier bills in a matter of decades. The longer the beak, the easier the access to food in the hanging backyard buffets popular in Britain — and, the data show, the healthier the offspring: Longer-beaked birds produced more chicks that fledged.

Karin Brullliard, Washington Post, October 20, 2017