Search This Blog

Monday, October 20, 2014

Super intelligent Human beings

Thought provoking article and comments 

Not only the article but most of the comments too, prod one to put lots of things in the cauldron of the thinking and understanding and churn out and observe the reactions, relevance and relationship of all those things.   The following is the selection of much generalized version of some of the things that come to my mind which I feel one can drop inside  that cauldron and wait and watch the churning process and the outcome.

Thoughts, information and /or knowledge of /in various domains, intellect, conscious awareness, perception, tools of perception, logic, reason, evaluations, purpose of evaluations, tools of evaluations, understanding and application of understanding, social values, social interactions, individual and/or collective emotions/feelings, psychology, cultural contexts, ideological identities which influence that very thought process, imaginations, dreams, fantasies, scientifically established facts, intelligent questioning, attitudes, willingness and ability to understand and solve problems, bio-chemical components  of human beings and /or some other species as well, application of  highest physical laws etc

Friday, October 17, 2014

Language , mathematics, vedas,zero

 A must read stuff very well elucidated

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Nationalism-be proud do not hide

I wish you take time and listen to these youtubes by one gentle man given below. I wish you better know in real terms what you mean by a very proud and hurried statement you seem to make like our politicians and Governors in this meaningless sentence. 'India is not really a country; it is a shared identity, a common consciousness of a billion people coexisting in a beautiful space." but also remember in a fit of over philosophizing we cannot live in 'vacuous inanity' as Rabindranath Tagore used to say . Here can you define what is a 'country' ? what you mean by 'shared identity'? who are the people 'sharing' it? and what is that 'identity'? can we drive away all those who do not share that particular identity whatever it is that you talk of? what is 'common'? what is consciousness'? what is 'common consciousness'? I have come across writers using terms like 'collective consciousness'? Ultimately you end the sentence 'in a beautiful space' did you mean place? because geographically a country can draw a boundary to a specific place and not space. If you really mean space please indicate the sphere geologically and till what height from the ground? because ordinary mortals like me who read are rooted to the earth called 'Bharatha Bhumi'.

If you wish to continue to write in English please polish your semantics through a list of books? If you are keen on being sarcastic about everything that nationalists do or say , then brush up your knowledge of what is meant by the word nation and what Indian nationalists have done over the centuries, fortunately they did not have the luxury of sitting idly in an air-conditioned room with google search engine and churn out some verbal diarrhea in some platform and make a living out of it by pretending to be a know all and judge all masters.

"Foundations of Indian Culture" by Polymath Shatavadhani Dr. R. Ganesh.
If ever you thought of spending worthily six sessions of 3 hours each totaling 18 hours of worthy listening to a great speech to know intellectually many fundamental aspects /factors of Foundations of Indian Culture rendered marvelously by the scholar DR.R. Ganesh.
Excellent collection of six 3-hour lectures in English by shatavadhani shree Dr.R.Ganesh ji overviewing, explaining Indian culture, principles, traditions, practices, touching on many contemporary issues also and answering many questions and doubts that people do raise here and there. It has taken almost two weeks for me to listen to the whole series in bits and parts.
Here are the six
Series of 6 lectures on "Foundations of Indian Culture" by Polymath Shatavadhani Dr. R. Ganesh.
Lecture summaries and recommended reading can be found here
also read this whole stuff with all the links therein fully,listen to all the links , it would be better to learn before sitting on judgments and voice your generous opinions

Peace through religious harmony

1. Every person irrespective of whatever he is capable of [talented,intelligent or idiotic] and however he looks [beautiful or ugly] must have self respect , love himself and be proud of himself by trying to understand himself and then effect the necessary changes whenever and wherever necessary for the perceived betterment.
2. Every person must accept and tolerate the persons he is closely related with either out of his own choice like friends, spouse etc or those thrust upon by fate like parents, brothers, children, neighbours, colleagues [this list is bigger] etc
3. Every person must be proud of the land where he is born or lives i.e the country where he is born, try to understand or at least tolerate the culture or certain aspects of culture of which one can be proud of .
4. This speech in very simple terms encapsulates all these. Wonderful speech listen carefully and completely to get a clarity, perception from different perspective to understand about what is Indianness and to talk in future in any forum .
In this Daksh PowerTalk, Shri S.Gurumurthy spoke on achieving Peace Through Religious
In a thorough and detailed manner, he traced the past of religious conflicts.
This was the second of the PowerTalks for Daksh Octa, 2014.
This PowerTalk took place at Chanakya Vihar auditorium on February 21st, 2014.

Reality- the unbiased approaches

The hitherto unexplained concepts or aspects of reality cannot be brushed aside or explained away with confusing scientific jargon nor can we ignore the great strides that science has made and gifted us with so many important things very essential for understanding life but we must be open to and willing to make the paradigm shift in our perspective and perception whether we categorize them or label them under material science or spiritual science. I do not want to use the term religion at all as it has so many aspects in it which very often prevent proper and open minded perception of either science, namely material science and spiritual science.

The more we are willing to listen and learn without blocking anything with our prejudices or conditioning or assumptions,
  the more we get a chance to get enlightened. Here is one such lecture put forth in very simple terms and asking us to take cognizance of the vital aspects of reality which we may miss out if we presume that material science alone can explain life.
Listen and enjoy to this lecture
TED Talk - Hinduism and Science, Part 1, 2 & 3
Jay Lakhani is a well-known speaker on Religious Pluralism. Lakhani is writer of books 'Hinduism for schools, and 'primary hinduism'. He is an Physics Doctorate teaching in UK universities(Quantum Mechanism).
He is first Hindu tutor to be appointed by Eton College for religious study. He is Director of, Religious Education Council of England and Wales, [[Hindu Council (UK), The Hindu Academy (UK) and A key advisor on Hinduism to the DCSF and the QCDA Offers Hindu input for PGCE courses on Religious Education at Several British Universities

Evolution of Indian Mathematics

Excellent presentation. also inspiring and providing good perspective, emphasizing the importance of core ideas or results, that is originality and creativity, even when rigorous proof is not yet done.
such ideas and results by Indian mathematicians were in fact most important in the development of not only mathematics, but also of all fields of human knowledge.
Nobody is taking away the contributions of the westerners to fields like mathematics, science, technology etc, but at the same time, the Indian contributions to mathematics, science, technology etc need to be properly recognized and appreciated also. This has not happened as yet in the global mainstream. we all need to move in that direction.
Evolution of Indian Mathematics
Excellent lecture given by Prof Subramaniyam to Indian Mathematical congress. This is in particular for those who are mentally colonized about Indian achievements. 

Outdated Institutions

Once again, a superb analysis by Prof. Vaidy as he is fondly called. Read Prof. R. Vaidyanathan's article at the bottom of this mail.
Thanks for mailing this to me and I am sharing this with all my contacts and in my face book too. Yes in an age where even close family relationships, cultural values are dealt with an expiry date why should anyone bother so much about an institution which has outlived its purported relevance?
India, unfortunately, is imbued with too many academically qualified beneficiaries of many such institutions, whose relevance if at all any is as good as that of fossil studies. Nice to know such and such species existed and they have also become extinct for the sake of and/or in the process of evolution.
I feel the institution of Governors too need a serious review, at least the sprawling real estate, army of support staff, plethora of perks and plenty of unearned privileges must be done away with [ at least the vice chancellors of Universities will get selected on merit rather than on money to be given to the Governor] read

There is a whole bunch of status quo maniacs and parasitic mafia euphemistically called as beneficiaries or top dignitaries either academically qualified, bureaucratically bolstered, politically connected or qualified by virtue of mere ancestral name either prefixed or suffixed to their name who hanker after such posts and positions and who also support such unworthy institutions as Gopalakrishna Gandhi did a day or two ago in the Hindu. I used the terminology parasitic mafia because they cause as much damage and are as dangerous as a mafia but they don't aggressively attack like a mafia but they suck the vitality from within like the parasites before you notice it.
I wish someone tells MODI to reduce at least the expenditures on Governors to 10% of what is being spent now and with that money and real estate income generated by selling prime land occupied by governors in each state we can build all the toilets that India needs.
I wrote this for Gopalakrishna Gandhi who cleverly sandwiches lousy thoughts in lovely language.

On Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 2:32 PM, Vaidyanathan R wrote:
No New Organization to Replace Planning Commission, Please!
Money Life Prof R Vaidyanathan 21/08/2014
Distribution of resources is no longer a relevant issue and there are plenty of specialized institutions all over India who can do the thinking and planning for the government. Let us allow the Planning Commission to achieve moksha Economic Times proclaimed on the morning of 15th August that the vice chairman of planning commission is to be named soon; it even mentioned Suresh Prabhu former power minster of Shiva Sena as a front runner.
On the same day from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Prime minister (PM) Narendra Modi conducted the single largest 'massacre' of 'Development Economists' in modern history by abolishing the Soviet-era relic called Planning Commission. It is rumored that more than hundreds of this species were occupying seats in Yojana Bhavan. It was also mentioned in passing by the PM that the said institution is to be replaced by one that is more effective.
This was a major big blow to Nehruvian Marxists who thrived on Mahalonobis’s idea borrowed from the Soviets that planning by the Government is critical for development and Government is best suited to organize our lives.
Then started the hunt for new residence for the same old Government thinkers. The Economic times [ET], a paper which thrives on 'sources' and 'deep throats' in Government rather than any serious economic reporting and analysis- decided to take matters in its own hands and declared there would be a 'New Planning Commission'. On 18th August it reported about the new planning commission’s tasks and members as well.
ET also decided to christen the body the “National development and Reforms Commission” like in China.
Incidentally, Cuts International public Policy Centre had, as early as July, come up with some recommendations one of which is this very name; so our leading economic paper has not even come up with an original suggestion.
Now the real issue is about replacing the old Planning Commission with a new one that is “vibrant and independent” –these are standard words used by usual suspects.
Then came the announcement from Prime Minister's Office (PMO) asking all Indians to send their suggestions about this new body and a suitable name for it to be sent to MyGov site.
First of all we should start by asking a basic question -- does the said body need to be replaced at all?
As far as Center-State allocations are concerned –as already pointed out by economist Surjit Bhalla—there is a major reveral in trend of funds flowing to the States. Writing about expenditure figures presented by the 2014-15 Budget he says, “for the large plan expenditure component (approximately 5% of GDP), there has been a complete reversal of trend. In 2013-14, state plans constituted 25% of this total; in 2014-15, states will handle nearly 60% of the total!”
It is anachronistic for an un-elected bureaucrat called vice chairman of the Planning Commission- as in the Soviet Model-- to advise/ berate State Chief Ministers once in five years about the amount they can spend from Central kitty. The entire model of a Central Sultanate allocating finances to states is not an appropriate one in these changed times.
The Finance Commission takes care of the statutory division of resources and the Interstate Council can be, and should be, activated to iron out any differences between the Centre and States and between States. The Prime Minster can meet Chief Minister/s every month or every quarter under the aegis of Inter State Council to foster better communication. Further, a substantial portion of centrally managed schemes can and should be shifted to States.
Now lets come to the 'think' portion of what the Planning Commission does. It is presumed that thinking can be done only by an organization located at Delhi with large number of experts employed 'to think'. This is a specious argument used by Delhi Durbar wherein it is assumed that all expertise is available only in Delhi and all those who are in Delhi are experts!!
In the days of Internet, mobile phones and social media it is waste of money to create an organization at Delhi to 'think'. There are plenty of existing organizations all over India working in different disciplines such as science, technology, public policy and defence.
The government can also fund large institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Central Statistical Organization (CSO), National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM), Indian Council for Social Sciences Research (ICSSR), Bhabha Automic Research Centre (BARC), National Institute of Advance Studies (NIAS), National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) and others or commission specific outputs from them in both strategic and operational. Hence, we feel that there is no need to create a new institution. If the PM wants advice on specific issues he can always rely on a multiplicity of institutions that already exist all over the country. He can always have a small advisory group to identify where to get each repors from. We feel for instance that the voluminous reports of the CSO and NSSO on various aspects of the Indian economy and society has not been adequately leveraged by the Government.
Our primordial instinct of not allowing any institution to die needs to end. Institutions like individuals have life span and must have Karmic endings. The Planning Commission died on the 15thAugust and on 27th August, in the ancient tradition, it will have Vaikunta Samaradhane. But many experts, thinkers and intellectuals want it to be revived before that based on our belief in re-birth. Let us for a minute assume that the Planning Commission has achieved Moksha –no re-birth since the organization has done so much punya in its life span serving the masses of this vast land (like it did when it juggled with the poverty line and made people better off overnight). And let us leave it there and close the chapter.
(Prof R Vaidyanathan , Professor of Finance and Control, has taught at IIM Bangalore for over three decades and is consistently rated as one of its most popular teachers. Prof Vaidyanathan has coined the term 'India UnInc' for the largest component of the Indian economy comprising small entrepreneurs, households)
(Views expressed in this article are personal)


The moment when we utter the word aesthetic various things pop up in our mind and it also covers a vast spectrum of human activities. For example we think of beauty, expression of creativity, ability to offer pleasant, eternally enjoyable talents and new patterns in different mediums like painting, music, architecture, dance, sculpture, writing, dressing etc.  
The very reason why the word aesthetic conjures up so many things to the mind is because it is something that transcends mere bodily sensations, mental perceptions, social sanctions, cultural confines and manifests an overflowing expression with inherent creativity and beauty making an instant communication to our inner self with a great universal appeal.  That’s why great arts, music, dances, writings etc appeal instantaneously to human beings all over the world.
Aesthetics is a vast area covering from appreciation of absolute beauty to  admiration of abstract patterns beyond dry logic and utility value alone, apprehension of  mystery, adoration of  vibrations leading to enjoyment of the sensitivities, achievement of clarity of perception, adoption of  artistic expression through  different spheres of communication like music, painting, dance, writing etc , augmentation of  our faculties and mutual understanding based on heartfelt feelings of admiration, association of inner spirit to the beauties outside establishing the interrelations of  everything with life and so on.

In short aesthetics is nothing but the appreciation and apprehension by the senses and sensitivity that have become more sophisticated and sensible through constant churning by the several cultural influences, subtle artistic representations and polished by the improved intellectual understanding etc

In general whenever the term aesthetics is used beauty and pleasant patterns predominate at the core. But beauty itself is in the eye of the beholder making it a very relative term. So how are we to define aesthetics? Let us go to the root of the word ‘aesthetics’ and not the connotations that it has accumulated over the centuries. The word aesthetics comes from the Greek word  AISTHETIKOS meaning ‘sensitive’ which itself is from the word AISTHANESTHAI meaning ‘to apprehend by the senses’.

Now this leads us to know what are the senses? Due to lack of knowledge and for the sake of convenience we have classified them into 5 or 6 or seven at the maximum and have done a great damage by failing to appreciate the many senses that are there outside our classified and categorized ones and even those within these with subtle nuances and variations.

So greatest damage was done to aesthetics from the time it was made into a philosophical concept and trying to confine it within the parameters of logically definable and theoretically acceptable definitions of expressions of beauty, nature or confining it to the mere corporeal sensorium etc

AESTHETICS can be defined in the form of an acronym as
Appreciation of
Energies and 
Sensible evaluation
Emotions and
Connected by

Reality and what is real ?

What is real and what is reality? It is not that easy to define with axiomatic certitude what it is? Here are some materials which I have written as well as come across which can throw enough light on the subject and churn out more clarity.                                                                          

Very interesting and thought provoking interview which touches upon very important but sensitive topics which have made human beings into two extremes one ennobling them the other enfeebling them manifesting the extent and extreme capabilities of human sensibilities and sharp sensitivities as well as stark stupidities. I like the typical Dawkins' precise and perfect vocabulary and Oksana Boyko's brilliant and blunt questions.
I would like to share some voluminous things here on War, Morality and Realization of Reality which is what the religions and sciences compete to reveal or rationally explain or oft times especially religion tries to vindicate.

3] New Year with a New Realization of Reality

The interview here in this link
The Ashtavakra Gita the great link between philosophy, metaphysics and physics. I hope you remember the story of Ashtavakra that we used to read in amar chitra katha as a great scholar cursed by his own father for questioning certain established philosophical and religious dogmas and also giving a very convining explanation. I have always held this Gita as the most abstract metaphysical and philosophical text as well as the most advanced prompt for later day scientific research in physics.
Here is an excellent but brief explanation of just one of his sloka
Severing All Illusions By: DHRUVA BHARGAVA on Oct 04, 2014
What we see separates us from Supreme reality, says DHRUVA BHARGAVA
When the formless, undivided, infinite oneness, Self, the pure ‘knowing’ gets embodied, it becomes finite — the perceived. With perception arises the appearance of reality and with that, our experiences. However, the appearance of reality is not reality itself but merely an appearance caused by our perception of it. The reality remains beyond our percept and knowing. The entire appearance of our perception is composed of diverse emergent qualities that are illusory; therefore, any appearance too,is illusory. This does not mean that existence is illusory; it means, we experience the appearance of reality only in terms of qualities produced within us by the act of perception and not by reality itself.
The Ashtavakra Gita (2.9) clearly states:“The mirage of universe appears in me/ As silver appears in mother-of-pearl/ As snake appears in a rope/ As water appears on a desert horizon.” However, the problem ensues when the illusory appearance is mistaken for reality itself. The emergent qualities of varied colours and sounds, temperature ranges, hardness, size and volume that compose the appearance of reality, are otherwise absent in reality. The consequential confusion of mistaking their appearance for reality itself is a delusion that misleads the perceiver into an illusory state from where his subsequent actions and attachments emanate. This confusion and delusion is the root cause of all misery and sufferings. The Ashtavakra Gita (2.16) elaborates,“ Looking at One and seeing many/ Is the cause of all misery. The only cure is to realise/ What is seen is not there./ I am One — aware, blissful, immaculate.” There are only two modes of perception — sensory and cognitive.
In sensory perception, inputs received through scanning of the physical environment by our senses are presented to our consciousness. These sensory inputs are polarized around a point of perception, such as heat-cold, light-darkness, hard soft or rough-smooth. This point of perception lies on a wide range, relative to the perceiver, to which his physical body adapts. Thus, a human being as perceiver, may find 30-degree centigrade temperature tolerable, but an organism living in a deep sea region near an underwater volcano, where temperature ranges between 100-200 degrees, may find 30 degree centigrade intolerable. In cognitive perception, inputs received from mental concepts — that of imagination, thinking, and memories are presented to consciousness in a dualistic way, such as like-dislike and favourable-unfavourable.
In cognitive perception, the mind itself provides inputs for perception which are rebounded within. This rebounding of inputs has no limits as they are not grounded in the physical environment like sensory inputs. In the realm of cognitive perception, one can, therefore, limitlessly think, imagine, fantasize and conceptualize. Thus, cognitive percept can be infinitely reproduced and built over and over again as the uninterrupted source of inputs lies within.
This creates an entangling cognitive loop due to rebounding of inner inputs and percept. In fact, perception ‘dualises’ the otherwise Oneness-Self into Self and the other. Our self concept, the self as we see ourselves, is a ‘dualised’ separate self and a product of cognitive perception. It always perceives itself as separate from the other. It’s built on our memories, imaginations, fantasies, thinking, and feelings, but appears real. All misery and suffering ensue when we own and accept this separate illusory self-concept as real. Once this illusory self is accepted and identified with, all its associated illusory suffering and misery that follow appear real too.
link to above article is here

and surprisingly today this appeared along with another latest development and discussion in the world of physics

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Life of Medicines

​I came across this ARTICLE -A Pill for every ill? Given below
I would like to have opinions from doctors. As a common man I feel MBBS must have one or two full year[s] of pharmacological studies in depth and government must subsidize setting up a bio chemical analytic lab for every doctor who sets up a clinic to test the real contents/claimed components of the medicine and whether the indicated potency is there in the medicines. This will enhance knowledge and also provide more employment to a very vital paramedical segment.

After all doctors are also human beings and they trust the pharma companies worse still the literature vomited by the sales reps with nice ties around the neck and lots of lies from the mouth [probably the doctors must demand an insurance cover for medicines they prescribe to patients in case of any adverse indications or no effect at all and this compensation must be paid by the pharma company itself. Then we can expect some changes in the medicine mafia.]

Though, unfortunately, most governments are backed financially by pharma and liquor barons.

This does not mean all that all the pharma companies do are bad but the problem is that onus of chaffing the dubious aspects in the pharma trade lies with the highly specialized and knowledge based few like the scientists and doctors whom the society respects and trusts desperately because it knows that both the common man and the politicians lack the relevant domain knowledge or are totally ignorant.

Reading many books on any subject confuses, clarifies, coruscates and ultimately leads to some clarity or at least offers greater choice.

A very important part of life’s experience is the churning it undergoes from various views, perceptions, assumptions, knowledge gathering etc

Here is Great Scholar Dr. B.M.Hegde with great academic credentials and greater clarity in both his understanding and approach to problems with his vast knowledge base. I am a great fan of him for the past many years.

Here are some of his speeches, all extremely worth listening to ands each one is a gem and I have  posted his lectures in my Facebook several times in the past few years.


A Pill for every ill? - I
Prof Dr BM Hegde | 01/10/2014 04:33 PM | 
pharma companies, pills, illness, surgery
The business goals of pharma companies influence the mission of research institutions and the final results. Young doctors are learning that there is a pill for every ill and a surgical correction for every anatomic deviation from the normal

“Who lies for you will lie against you.”  -  Bosnian Proverb.  

The recent disclosures by the The New York Times that more than 47% of the Harvard Medical School faculty is on the regular pay roll of drug companies should give us a wakeup call. All thinkers need to believe what I had been writing for years that most of what doctors learn from textbooks and their teachers is the ‘wisdom’ distilled by the vested interests in pharmaceutical and medical devices industries!  

The Harvard revelation is only the tip of the iceberg. In India, where we do not have such audits, the numbers must be prohibitive. Many doctors make a comfortable living thanks to the largesse of the industry. The unholy marriage between the academia and the industry should cease forthwith for the good of humanity. 

Intelligence is derived from the roots inter (between) and ligere (to choose). An intelligent doctor, therefore, should be able to choose between the good and the evil for the sake of his/her patients as also to become a person of value and not just a person of success. Albert Einstein wrote that one should “try to be a man of value, rather than a man of success.” An editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine deplores the evil in medical science. 

My lamentations about medicine having gone to the market place, riding piggyback on technology, making it almost impossible to believe any of the short case-control studies published even in the “respectable” journals for years, had only fallen on deaf ears. I have become a laughing stock in the higher echelons of the Indian medical academia! 

I am told that a group of cardiologists in Mumbai, when asked to assess me for the Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences some years ago, had opined, “He is only a quack and has no idea what cardiology is all about!”  I did become Fellow-thanks to a few thinkers still in the organisation.

“The ties between clinical research and industry include not only grant support, but also a host of other financial arrangements. Researchers serve as consultants to companies whose products they are studying, join the advisory boards, and the speakers’ bureaus, enter into patent and royalty arrangements, agree to be listed authors of articles ghost written by interested companies, promote drugs and devices at company sponsored symposia, and allow themselves to be plied with expensive gifts and trips to luxurious settings. Many also have equity interest in companies. Academic medical institutions are themselves growing increasingly beholden to industry. Harvard used to be an exception; but they are also softening their stand,” wrote Marcia Angell.  

I could quote some of my bitter experiences, which I had shared with readers from time to time, here to complete the picture. Time was when a symposium on treatment of high blood pressure was held in a five-star hotel in Goa. I was pitted to speak against a star speaker from America. This gentleman is a regular company “employee”, having a very high academic status in addition. The drug in question was a receptor blocker of a particular new variety. 

While the American went on to describe the drug as the panacea for all hypertensives and should be the first drug of choice, I had to, per force, take the opposite stand as I was convinced that this drug was not the drug of first choice. This great master ridiculed me and the audience, of course, was with him! 

In March 2000, while I was on a lecture tour of some Universities in the US, early morning wake up alarm in my hotel room was blaring out the news item that this very drug, in the first-ever human study, had caused many more heart failures, while it was being touted as the drug to prevent heart failure. 

The study has since been stopped and the newscaster was asking nearly a million Americans who are already on the drug to contact their doctors to get the drug changed immediately. I tried in vain to contact the “great” man but to no avail. This happens again and again. 

The drug in question was one of the alpha blockers. Any blocker, alpha, beta, ACE or H1—or, for that matter, any other drug that blocks any normal body function, is not conducive to normal body physiology. Recent revelations about metaprolol in the POISE study are a good example. There are others ills, which follow all the above blockers but space does not permit me to go into them in greater details.  

No one has so far described science in a way that satisfies everyone. “Science, for example, can not give absolute proofs of the laws of nature because, although we can test an idea repeatedly, we can never be sure that an exception does not exist,” says Michael Cross in the New Scientist 2000 February 19th.  Every time something goes wrong and is detected, anyone could take refuge under this clause. This statement of Cross should not be misread to say that science is not good. It only goes to emphasize the fact that scientific methods are but one of the many ways to human wisdom. 

One other subtle way of taking the practicing doctor for a ride by the companies is the use of confusing statistical jargon, which, unfortunately, most medical students do not get to study in the medical school. This specially applies to the risk factor correcting efforts using drugs, a real money-spinner. 

While there are 17 studies (RCTs) in the area of blood pressure lowering drugs where the collective relative risk reduction (RRR) was only -20% and this is the one sold in the journal articles and company literature. If one were to analyse the absolute risk reduction (ARR) it comes down to -0.8% only! This will translate into a very insignificant survival benefit (SB) of just 0.8%. 

To put it differently, if a healthy man with moderately raised blood pressure were to take the drugs religiously for five years to reduce his box blood pressure, despite lots of other inconveniences due to the drug in question, his chance of survival becomes 96.8%, whereas it would still be 96% without any drug at all for five years but with simple change of mode of living!

Almost identical figures arise from all the cholesterol-lowering drugs. That is not all. The number needed to treat (NNT) unnecessarily is another serious matter. To save one young man with mild to moderate hypertension from a possible stroke in the next five years the doctor will have to treat 850 normal people with the same level of BP for a period of five years. The adverse drug reactions of those drugs in five years would be enormous, to say the least, both in morbidity and mortality, leave alone the cost! Practising doctors get to see only the RRR figures that look very impressive. The table below shows it all! 

In the next part we will examine why there is such a large nexus between the academia and the “for-profit” industry.
Moneylife » A Pill for every ill? - II
A Pill for every ill? - II
Prof Dr BM Hegde | 02/10/2014 12:28 PM | 
pharma companies, pills, illness, surgery
There is no free lunch in this world. Pharmaceutical companies try and catch doctors very young when they are still house officers. These young doctors then learn from pharma companies that every ill can be cured with a pill. This is concluding part of a two part series

For one thing, even hospitals have come under the latter umbrella! It is argued that ties between industry and academia are necessary for “technology-transfer”, a word invented after 1980s, when the American Government passed the Bayh-Dole Act which allowed academic institutions supported by Federal grants to patent and license new products discovered by their faculty in return for royalties. This law is cited when large-scale tie-ups go on between these two institutions. It is needless to say that we follow that rule blindly in our country. The second reason given is that academic institutions needed the money very badly. These are the main reasons why we are where we are today. The business goals of the companies influence the mission of the research institutions and also influence their final results.

One of the reasons why the cost of modern medical treatment, both medical and surgical, has skyrocketed is because the expenses incurred by the industry for its sponsored trips of medical scientists, meals in top of the range hotels, gifts, honorariums, conference and symposia expenses, consulting fees, and research grants eventually are paid by the consumer! There is no free lunch in this world. Companies try and catch doctors very young when they are still house officers. Rothman records in a report that the companies’ gifts are intended to buy the goodwill of young physicians with long prescribing lives ahead of them. Similar is the situation in many areas where the industry uses the talent of the academia for their research. Ultimately, it is a Faustian bargain.

Clinical research organizations (CROs) are mushrooming in India at alarming pace.  The brokers for the western drug companies want to test their new molecules in the third world countries, as many of the western countries have banned such studies. Especially after the Northwick Park Hospital tragedy in London where, a single drug put all the volunteers into serious near fatal unknown adverse effect costing the hospital millions of pounds! These CROs are a menace to us, as we do not have the genuine informed consent in our set up with most of our patients still very poor and illiterate to understand the intricacies that are built into every new drug trial! I wonder if it is ethical to do such studies at all. Who cares for ethics these days, anyway?  

In fact, there are a few “researchers” who would not have seen a single patient all their lives, but profess to the world about the drug treatment of major illnesses. The companies mainly target those diseases that are likely to be life long business for them like diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease etc. There are many guidelines all over the world for the treatment of these diseases. If one takes care to carefully scrutinize them, one quickly realizes how fallacious they are. To give an example of hypertension, there are six guidelines in all: we in India are trying to have our own guidelines, in addition. If all of them are computed together they cover just about 39% of the patients. For the rest, there are no guidelines. Young, but enthusiastic, doctors are getting frustrated looking at these. If any of the guidelines are not convenient to the drug makers, the companies get their “great brains” to refute them and have new guidelines. This happened with the American National Guidelines for high blood pressure management some time ago. (JNCV).

One could take any area for scrutiny. Anti-cholesterol drugs, anti-arrhythmic drugs, heart failure drugs, anti-hypertensive drugs, anti-diabetic drugs, pain killers, anti-cancer drugs or, for that matter, many of the procedures for surgical corrections and even some of the untested technologies like coronary care units, terminal care units, flow catheters and many other areas have their loads of skeletons in their cupboards. An unbiased audit would get these skeletons out of the cupboards. In fact, in a recent article in PLOSmedicine, Richard Smith, the former editor of the British Medical Journal and the present editor of the Cases Journal in London, showed elegantly how doctors today have become just puppets in the hands of the drug company barons.

“How much longer will medicine’s flagship educational events fly the colours of the drug industry”, asks Ray Moynihan, the editor of PLOS medicine and goes on to add, “In the heart of Manhattan Island one misty morning a few years back, I watched as hundreds of psychiatrists streamed into their flagship educational event, the annual congress. Even before arriving, they were welcomed by giant advertising billboards on the streets outside, plastered with the name of a major sponsor, Pfizer, the biggest drug company in the world and the maker of Zoloft, the world’s top selling antidepressant. Once inside, their first port of call was the huge exhibition hall, where well dressed salespeople moved among high-tech booths and hypnotic neon, exchanging pleasantries with doctors lining up to play video games and win prizes. And then, of course, there were the sponsored educational sessions. That year—2004—psychiatrists learnt about bipolar disorder over breakfast at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, courtesy of Eli Lilly. Over lunch at the Grand Hyatt they studied maternal depression, thanks to GlaxoSmithKline, and for dinner it was generalised anxiety disorder in the grand ballroom of the Roosevelt Hotel, funded by Pfizer,” in a recent article in the BMJ.  

When the gulf between the industry and the academia narrows, medical students and house officers, under the constant tutelage of industry representatives, learn to rely on drugs and devices. This is more often than they should do. Young doctors learn that there is a pill for every ill and a surgical correction for every anatomic deviation from the normal. Faculty members could get distracted from their teaching commitments. Doctors get used to these company courtesies of receiving gifts and favours to further their continuing medical education. In this generation, there is always an overemphasis on drugs and devices that could ultimately work against patient interests. The Hippocratic Oath really becomes hypocrates’ oath.

It is time to do a bit of introspection before it is too late in the day for us do even that. We should see that we are not open to the charge that we are for sale. Academic medical schools should educate their students on the ills of the prevailing scenario and have to inculcate in their students the love for ethics and give them a good idea of pharmaco-economics and the ways of the business world that may be alien to them at that stage in life.

Let us not forget that 80% of the world population even today does not have any touch with modern medicine, 62% of upper middle class Americans can not afford health insurance as the premia are sky high for them, 57% of Britons do wish to have alternative systems of medicine when they are ill, despite the fact that they have the free National Health Service. Let us also remember that patients could very well live without doctors, but doctors could never survive without patients!  For this write up, I have drawn heavily from my articles published earlier on similar subjects in 2001 and 2006.

“People are never satisfied. If they have a little, they want more. If they have a lot, they want still more. Once they have more, they wish they could be happy with little, but are incapable of making the slightest effort in that direction.”       Anon.

MOKSH: (Monitoring Knowledge & Social Health)
An International Network of Eminent Scientists Questioning 
                                  the Science Behind "Science"
Odisha, India
Disclaimer: Views expressed in my mails are my own and may not represent that of the organisation.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Richard Dawkins: People find ISIS attractive despite beheadings

Very interesting and thought provoking interview which touches upon very important but sensitive topics which have made human beings into two extremes one ennobling them the other enfeebling them manifesting the extent and extreme capabilities of human sensibilities and sharp sensitivities as well as stark stupidities. I like the typical Dawkins' precise  and perfect vocabulary and Oksana Boyko's brilliant and blunt questions.  

I would like to share some voluminous things here on War, Morality and Realization of Reality which is what the religions and sciences compete to reveal or rationally explain or oft times especially religion tries to vindicate.



3] New Year with a New Realization of Reality

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Language evolution

Evolution and essence of language itself is too comprehensive and too complicated because the term language we use includes too many things, aspects each one of which is being constantly researched and revealed. There seems to be great pearls of logic behind every aspect of every language be it etymology, be it punctuation, be it semantics, be it the syntax , be it the logic for existence of many parts of speech like prepositions in some languages or the lack some parts of speech in some language etc.

Every language has evolved imbued with beauty and utility with marvelous manipulations to make meanings conveyable and meaningful communication.
Language in my opinion has been the most important tool in the growth and development of human evolution in all aspects.
However, it still remains a great puzzle with many of its interesting nuances well explained by great scholars, linguists,scientists, attempted to be studied by many psychologists and neurologists but awaiting a very convincing scientific explanation in terms of evolutionary biology or perhaps it could as Dr.V.S. Ramachandran himself says somewhere, "I’m arguing that what happened is more like your jaw bones: there are different adaptations which evolved for different purposes. For example, bones of the ear that evolved for amplifying sound were exapted from reptilian jaw bones used for chewing. There is a fortuitous emergence of different sets of neurosystems that evolved for completely unrelated reasons—and the equally fortuitous interactions between them resulted in early language, which then became an elaborate system. So, it’s not wrong to say that there was natural selection. But there were multiple exaptations with fortuitous interactions which resulted in language.".
If existence of biological vocal chord alone were to be credited with the ability to come out with nuanced sound structures to explain and express , then many other species would score over humans. I am on an interesting journey learning about the creation, uses and multiple manifestation of many languages reading the works of many linguists of different languages. The beauty is the very process and purpose of many aspects of any language and absence of certain aspects all reveal great logic and love for human interactions by enhancing human communications.