This Is Your Brain on Toxins–Op Ed

Today’s New York Times has an op-ed by Nicholas Kristof about the toxins in our world.
His article begins:
“Lead helps to guard your health.” That was the marketing line that the former National Lead Company used decades ago to sell lead-based household paints. Yet we now know that lead was poisoning millions of children and permanently damaging their brains. Tens of thousands of children died, and countless millions were left mentally impaired.”

He takes on the endocrine disruptors, and the politics of lobbying and regulation. He uses anecdotes and some data–but clearly, this is a big issue.  It is worth reading: Click Here

Qualitative Data Analysis

Some free software for analyzing qualitative data is is available online. I have not

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tested these yet. If you have, let me know what your think of them.

  • –Coding Analysis Toolkit (CAT)—is available online. CAT is a free service of the Qualitative Data Analysis Program (QDAP), and hosted by the University Center for Social and Urban Research, at the University of Pittsburgh, and QDAP-UMass, in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Find at
  • –Another free site is: Weft QDA is an easy-to-use, free and open-source
    Open prevent. 5 to wash, more with a for a tool for the analysis of textual data such as interview transcripts, fieldnotes and other documents. Find at:
  • –The American Evaluation Association provides a list of qualitative software:


Frances Kelsey: Science in the Public Interest

Sometimes it is nice to read a story about  how one person can make a difference, someone who can use the standards of science to stand up to the corporations who put profit over public safety, and who can win. It is especially heartening when that someone is a public administrator.  That person is Frances Kelsey, and Truthout published this story:

kelsey“You’ve probably never of her, but she may have saved your life. In the early 1960s, Kelsey – a doctor and research scientist with the FDA – saved thousands of babies from severe birth defects by stopping a big pharmaceutical company from marketing the drug thalidomide. Equally important, Kelsey’s courageous stance inspired Congress to revise the rules for approving new drugs protecting hundreds of millions of Americans, then and now, from unsafe medicines.

Kelsey’s battle with the makers of thalidomide is not only an inspiring tale of how one individual’s expertise and courage protected the public interest against the corporate push for profits, but also a warning to drug companies and their lobby groups fighting new drug safety rules that would put public health and safety over drug company profits.”

She demanded scientific evidence that the drug was effective but that it also did not produce harmful side-effects.

Frances Kelsey: 1962 stopped thalidomide in 1962

Continue reading »

New Guide: Analyzing the General Social Survey

I put together a draft guide to help people who would like to get some hands-on experience analyzing and describing survey data. The University of California at Berkeley has made the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) survey data from 1972 to 2012, along with the Survey Documentation and Analysis (SDA) software:
Click Here for SDA site

This is a draft guide and can be found under Tools and Guides: Check it out.

data analysis handy dandy guide r3Click here for guide

State of America’s Children–July 2012

For those seeking data about children in America, the Children’s Defense Fund recently released its annual report. The report, which can be downloaded, is at:
State of America’s Children
It includes this critique of the Gross National Product by Robert F. Kennedy that I like. He raises questions about what we measure and the validity of those measures, and is far more eloquent than I am, who as a researcher would talk about operationalization of terms and content validity.

“Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy
of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of
our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither
our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything,
in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are
proud that we are Americans.”
– Robert F. Kennedy

A Reminder: Headlines Might Not Really Tell the Story

The NY Times led with a headline “Exxon Mobil Earnings Disappoint,” (April 27, 2012). stop calls from canadian pharmacy Just cialis half life glancing at the headline, you might think think the oil corporation had done poorly or had not made much of a profit. However, that is not the case although the data is a bit confusing. Yes, they viagra triangle bars say their net income dropped 11 percent for the quarter. They posted a $9.45 billion profit as compared to $10.7 a year earlier. However, their revenue rose 8.8 percent to $124.1 billion. The “disappointment” was becauseExxon did not meet Wall Street expectations of: 1) earing $124.8 billion in revenues, and 2) the price per side effects viagra pills share was only $2 rather than an expected $2.10. Most of the article was about how well Shell was doing. Not really about public administration, but it is a good reminder that just glancing at headlines–as I often do–can be misleading. Find NY viagra o cialis Times Article here  

What the Public Knows about the Political Parties

PEW has a quiz: what do you know about U.S. major political parties? Take the Quiz.  It’s fun.

The quiz goes with the report PEW just released:  What the Public Knows About the Political Partie–report

They lead off saying:

“Most Americans can correctly identify the relative positions of the Republican and Democratic parties on the major issues of the day. But a review of what Americans know about the political parties shows that the public is better informed about the partisan affiliations of two popular recent presidents – Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton – than it is about the positions of the parties on key issues that dominate the current national debate.”

It also provides some analysis based on age, education, and political identification.

Research on Dolphins

Not public policy, but I love dolphins.

“Researchers in the United States and Great Britain have made a significant breakthrough in deciphering dolphin language in which a series of eight objects have been sonically identified by dolphins. Team leader, Jack Kassewitz of, ‘spoke’ to dolphins with the dolphin’s own sound picture words. Dolphins in two separate research centers understood the words, presenting convincing evidence that dolphins employ a universal “sono-pictorial” language of communication.”

See article Dolphin Language

Very cool!

Doing the Math

I came across this on You-Tube. Al Franken takes on Brit Hume’s use of numbers. This is a good example of how to lie with statistics. Regardless of one’s political position, I believe very strongly that we need for the media and political people to not lie with numbers. If their policy position is a good one, they should not need to lie with statistics. And we the people need to take notice when statistics appear to be nonsense.
Take a look:
Al Franken does the math