Thursday, March 09, 2006

Bad Science

I'm usually annoyed as science reporting because the reporting is so bad. When I read this article in the FijiTimes I was stunned by how bad the science was. The random sample wasn't random, there was no control group, and the measurement instrument is designed to measure something other than what they are trying to measure (they claim the test indicates that there is an effect on the nervous system then go on to explain that the test is commonly used to test if people are under the influence of Kava!) So the news is that some people, when they drink Kava, fail a test to see if they've been drinking Kava! That is neither science or news.

And more on the litter front. I guess having articles in the FijiTimes is a big part of the clean-up campaign. Actually cleaning up, does not seem to be part of the plan. I walked by the ocean as Suva Point last night hoping to see some improvement in the litter, but it was as bad as ever.


At 7:12 PM, Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hi Rose,

I read an abbreviated version on-line and thought what a limited sort of study that was - a few male Fijian medical students. A cross-section from the community was needed. Testing driving skills after twenty bilos would be a betters study!
The stories coming out about kava is a cause for alarm or questioning. One said that kava cures two types of cancer! Well, I wish.

Now if Australia puts a ban on importing kava - because of what has happened in Arnhem Land when some groups of Aboriginal men were mixing it with alcohol or not even eating, or drinking it by the bucketful - what's going to happen to our little kava parties in Geelong? We are allowed to bring back 2 kilos with our luggage at present.

Yeah, I don't like more than two bilos, and I do think it can often be a waste of time, but it's not that evil! And other people swear by their kavakava tablets to help them sleep!
Do you drink yaqona Rose?

At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bad science is everywhere and nothing pisses me off more. In the US there has become a suppression of good science with an overruling
religious or political agenda.
I haven't read anything about the Kava issue because it doesn't effect me but the amount of bad science in our "advanced" society is staggering with our current government. They no how to ruin everything.

At 8:50 AM, Blogger rose said...

Oh man the article about Kava curing cancer was also terrible! The Times article is no longer available but this is pretty much the same info. The headline says "cure" but it's more like "shows promise for providing some sort of treatment...down the line" Plus there is no mention of who actually did the study or where it might be published. Two universities are mentioned, but when you go to their websites and look at any press releases or other news there is no mention of this "ground breaking" work.

Regardless of poor science, trying to frame the Kava issue as either "it cures cancer!" or "it's dangerous and nobody should have any ever!" is just silly. In moderation, I'm sure it's just fine, just like many other substances that humans all over the world since the beginning of time have found. Of course it can be abused, like anything else.

I've tried yaqona a couple of times and find the results plesant, but the taist unplesant. It seems to me that there is more to it than just the substance, its the socializing and being around friends that is also a big part of the experience. For your sake I really hope that Australia doesn't ban Kava as I'm sure it's an important taste of home for you guys.

At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you should invest in a flame thrower for the litter problem there. On your nightly walks you can just light up the beach. I bet within a week or so all the garbage will be gone and people will be to affraid to go there to re-litter it up. Just thinking outside the box.

At 5:33 AM, Blogger laminar_flow said...

Kava Paper.

Those FSM researchers could have included the science based Kava test developed by California Highway Patrol.

Driving and Kava--California Case 1: August 7, 1999 a 47-year old San Bruno, CA man was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of Kava tea. Around 3 AM, according to CHP officers, the man was seen weaving on Highway 101 in San Mateo County. When given a field sobriety test, he failed it, but a chemical test in San Mateo County Jail revealed no traces of alcohol or other illegal drugs. The man, a native of Tonga, told investigators that he drank 8 cups of Kava tea for 6 hours during his church’s Kava circle, a social ceremony.

This was the first time in California that someone was charged with DUI when Kava was involved. The District Attorney argued that California DUI law covers anything that might affect the brain, muscles or central nervous system and that could prevent the driver from safely operating a motor vehicle.

Within a week of his arrest, the man was suspended without pay from his delivery job. On October 28, 2000, he was acquitted after his case ended in a mistrial (Stannard, San Francisco Chronicle, October 28, 2000). The jury was deadlocked 10-2 in favor of acquittal. He is filing a $20 million wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer.

Driving and Kava--California Case 2: On June 17, 2000, police stopped a 26-year-old man on Highway 101 near Redwood City, CA (San Mateo County) for driving erratically. The man, a native of Tonga, said that he drank 23 cups of Kava tea at a San Mateo church and when given a field sobriety test, he failed it. The San Mateo County District Attorney charged him with DUI. In November, 2000, a San Mateo County Judge dropped the charges ruling that there was not enough evidence to show that state laws against DUI included Kava tea (ContraCosta Times. com, December 29, 2000).


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