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Comment Re:Not quite the same thing is already being done. (Score 2) 71

why is the test of worthiness for a medical procedure whether it can be "mass marketed"

Because someone has to pay for the research and development - which, please remember, involves large-scale clinical trials to get regulatory approval - and they're not going to front the money for a treatment that has no chance of recouping their investment, unless they have some other personal interest. You can wring your hands all you want about society's priorities, but new medical procedures aren't magically exempt from basic rules of supply and demand.

Comment Re:Only 40 years?? (Score 1) 122

I wonder what kind of unmanned probes we could have by now if we didn't have to spend it on a military? If you don't have to worry about life-support and could afford redundant probes to deal with the risk of high-speeds, those things could be really fast, and we perhaps could be getting close-up data from the nearest star systems by now.

Sorry, not even close.

The estimate that I've seen for Project Icarus, which is one of the most thorough realistic concepts for interstellar exploration, was $100 trillion. (For comparison, global GNP is around $70 trillion, and US military budget is probably on the order of $1 trillion at most once you include stuff like the NSA - DoD alone is more like $700 billion. Some of which we do actually need for national defense.) That probe would have been unmanned and taken 50 years to reach Barnard's Star (only about 5 light years away), plus at least a 20-year development time. It required technology that, while theoretically possible, isn't even remotely close to working; it also required installing orbital infrastructure around at least one of our gas giants to mine the isotope(s) required for its particular flavor of fusion.

If we restrict ourselves to current-day or very-near-future technology, we might be able to get something to a nearby star in a few centuries for a much smaller sum. I'm totally in favor of starting work now, but I think the political will for spending large amounts of tax dollars on such a project is near zero.

Comment Re:This model excludes tacit conspiracies (Score 1) 303

If I were a pharm exec choosing which studies to support, there are many factors I would have to weigh in my decisions. A tacit bias towards non-curative medications is plausibly more profitable

This may make sense to a layman, but it completely misunderstands how the pharma business works. The vast majority of any research efforts they undertake, no matter what the goal, will crash and burn, some of them very expensively. Obviously the companies decide what to target based on likely profitability, but deciding not to pursue a promising possible cure because it might not make as much money as another promising lead that is merely a long-term palliative is absolutely batshit insane, because they have no idea which one is going to survive clinical trials.

The more general problem, of course, is that curing most diseases outright, and especially cancer, is often extremely difficult to do without killing the host, so it's not like there are many magic "cures" hidden away anyway. A truly comprehensive approach will probably require decades of further advances in biotechnology and our understanding of disease mechanisms before any pharma exec would even think of sinking money into trying to "cure cancer" outright.

Comment Re:The herd's moving (Score 1) 508

Now, centuries later, the genetic corruption has festered long enough to surface again in a call to force everyone to submit to the power of those who seek to control the lives of everyone around them.

It hasn't "surfaced", it's been there all along. The only thing that's changed is that in this particular case, it's people you disagree with who are calling for authoritarianism.

Comment Re:The herd's moving (Score 1) 508

Let me put it this way: I have no desire to force a smallpox vaccination into anyone. But I would consider it equally valid self-defense for the rest of us to point guns at willingly unvaccinated individuals and tell them to keep the hell away from us, because carriers for easily communicable and frequently fatal diseases might as well be waving a loaded gun around (especially if you're one of the unlucky few who has a legitimate medical reason for not getting vaccinated).

Schools are another matter: supposed your child shows up one day with the symptoms of smallpox. Should school officials (public or private) be prohibited from sending it home because of the danger to other students, simply because you're paying?

Comment Re:The herd's moving (Score 2) 508

I apply a more general rule for the "or else" question: if I would not be comfortable personally enforcing a law, I won't support it. I don't have much of a problem with, say, the compulsory smallpox vaccinations that used to occur, since willingly unvaccinated individuals would be putting me in huge danger simply by breathing the same air. (Although in this case, banishment would indeed be an option.) Or for MMR, relatively harmless in comparison to smallpox but still easily transmissible, I have no problem telling the parents of willingly unvaccinated children that their brats are not welcome in public schools. To me, these responses are commensurate with the public health threat of unvaccinated individuals.

Comment Re:The herd's moving (Score 1) 508

To repeat what I said earlier: simply being in the same classroom as a student with HPV does not expose anyone to the disease, therefore there is no justification for requiring vaccination as a condition of attendance. If you think otherwise you must have gone to a very strange school.

Comment Re:The herd's moving (Score 1) 508

Do you suggest that government teams go around person to person and hold people down against a table and inject them against their will? I don't know about you, but frankly, that is worse than anything nature might throw my way, that is evil, pure and simple.

Thanks for making my point more explicit. Sadly, I think there are quite a few people who are totally comfortable with this as long as the target is a class of people they despise (religious conservatives, in this case; and yes, I'm aware that this class has no shortage of authoritarian fantasies of its own).

Comment Re:The herd's moving (Score 1) 508

So I guess you're up for russian roulette for your child?

No, I would be perfectly comfortable with my child getting a Gardasil shot. I would also be totally comfortable telling my children "use condoms, don't have sex with anyone who doesn't use condoms, and make sure that your partners have had regular STD tests", followed by the customary slideshow of STD symptoms to reinforce the point. What I am not comfortable with is the idea of making Gardasil compulsory - are you going to start blocking kids from attending public school if they haven't been immunized against HPV? They're not going to catch it because someone sneezed in math class.

Or here's a more general objection: should adults also be required to be vaccinated against HPV? Because I'm doing a pretty good job of avoiding it already, albeit not really in the way I'd hoped.

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