24-year-old Arthur Zang, a Cameroonian engineer, invented the Cardiopad. The Cardiopad is a portable, touch screen device that enables heart examinations such as the electrocardiogram to be performed at remote locations while results of the test, are transferred wirelessly to specialists who can interpret them. Zang also became a finalist in the 2012 CPS Distinguished Award for the Sciences.
Updated repost of one of my favorites. Thanks to Sister Anna for bringing it to my attention again after 3 years.
I remember watching a couple of the Sherlock Holmes movies when I was a kid. I never thought much of them as the story lines didn’t really hold my interest, plus they were shown in “black and white”…lol! I do remember though the line Sherlock Holmes gave his sidekick, Dr. Watson when he was ready to solve the case and explain how he came to his conclusions. He made it all seem so obvious after he proclaimed: “elementary my dear Watson, elementary,” and then broke it all down. I would wonder why Watson, being a learn-ed “Doctor”, hadn’t figured it out also and would ask the detective dumb questions. hmmmmm
This week another Dr. Watson garnered media attention, not for asking dumb questions, but for making “dumb” comments. Dr. James Watson, biologist, geneticist, Chancellor of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and 1962 Nobel laureate in science, made some controversial statements regarding “Race” in an interview he gave to The Sunday Times. The interviewer shared these beliefs of Dr. Watson’s in the article:
“He says that he is “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really”, and I know that this “hot potato” is going to be difficult to address. His hope is that everyone is equal, but he counters that “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”. He says that you should not discriminate on the basis of colour, because “there are many people of colour who are very talented, but don’t promote them when they haven’t succeeded at the lower level”. He writes that “there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so”.
This is not the first or only time the “good doctor” has made controversial statements, especially regarding race. During a lecture tour in 2000 he hypothesized that there were scientific links between skin colour and sexual prowess, specifically that “dark-skinned people have stronger libidos”. He has also hypothesized that if you could detect babies with “gay genes” pre-natally, women should then have the right to abort the baby “because women want to have grandchildren, period.” He also agreed with what he refers to as the “unpopular but by no means unfounded” theory of ex-Harvard president Larry Summers (recently President Obama’s director of the National Economic Council and chief economic policy co-ordinator), who lectured that the low representation of tenured female scientists at universities might be due to, among other things, “the innate differences between the sexes”. Due to the furor caused by his latest comments, he has had to cancel a book tour, scheduled lectures and he has also been suspended from his administrative duties at the Laboratory.
So here’s the deal. I believe the issue isn’t so much with the statements he made…. but that he made them publicly! He simply stated what is the widely held belief among those in the dominant “white” society. It is not the first time (nor the last) that science has been utilized to assert the inferiority of the so-called “Black Race”. Scientists are forever coming up with hypotheses and theories either contending that “whites” and/or “Europeans” and their culture is superior to everyone elses, or that “Blacks” and/or “Africans” and their culture are inferior to all others. However, because it is no longer “socially acceptable” nor “politically correct” to make such assertions publicly, “the rule” now is to do it within private (i.e. where Black people aren’t allowed) confines of the backrooms, the social clubs, the boardrooms, the executive offices… hell even in the bathroom…. but never, never out in the open and certainly not to the media! If you break this rule…. you are on your own!
Dr. Watson has made the usual apologies, claimed the statements don’t reflect what he meant, “and there is no scientific basis for such a belief.” Interestingly he also stated: “I cannot understand how I could have said what I am quoted as having said.”
“Elementary my dear Watson, elementary…. you’re a racist.”
Thanks to Ana for sharing this information. This article at The Silver People Chronicle: The Back Punch Revisted-“We can End the Silence”, is shockingly eye-opening by revealing the experiments that were done on people of African descent in Panama by the U.S. government.
On Friday, October 1st 2010, U. S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued an official apology to the Central American nation of Guatemala and to Guatemalans residing in the United States for something truly reprehensible that took place about 64 years ago.
Apparently, U.S. scientific researchers, all under the auspices of the U.S. Public Health Service, and with the permission of the Guatemalan government of the time, deliberately infected hundreds (official count is at about 1500) of Guatemalan subjects taken from the mental wards, prisons and from a group of prostitutes with sexually transmitted diseases.
This human experiment took place between 1946 and 1948 and the trail of discovery lead to Dr. Susan Reverby, the same professor of women’s and gender studies who authored two significant books on the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, the controversial experiments which prompted a previous official apology in May, 16 1997 from the then President of the United States, Bill Clinton. These experiments were conducted by the U.S.P.H.S. in order to document “the natural progression of the untreated disease.”
The Guatemalan experiments were similar in scope. “The scientists injected the patients with gonorrhea and syphilis — and even encouraged many of them to pass the disease on to others. While the Tuskegee experiment followed the natural progression of syphilis in those already infected, in Guatemala doctors introduced the disease into healthy people. The goal of the study seems to have been to determine the effect of penicillin in the prevention and treatment of venereal diseases. The researchers paid prostitutes infected with syphilis to have sex with prisoners and some subjects were infected by directly inoculating them with the bacterium. When the subjects contracted the disease they were given antibiotics though it is unclear if all infected parties were cured.”
“Along with the official apology the Obama administration has also asked the Institute of Medicine to conduct a review of these experiments. Also, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues will ask a panel of international experts to review the current state of medical research on humans around the world and ensure that such incidents cannot be repeated.”
Which brings us to the Silver People of Panama. More than 70 years ago hundreds of male laborers of the Silver Roll who were on the verge of retirement were subjected to similar experimentation through what they themselves called “The Back Punch.” As we’ve described in our post on The Back Punch, it consisted of basically healthy subjects either submitting themselves to a painful and potentially dangerous spinal tap to extract spinal fluid or have their retirement papers “lost” or slow tracked to their detriment. The fluid samples were then forwarded to a lab in Switzerland to formulate a pricey serum to be sold on the international market as a remedy for male impotency.
Former President Bill Clinton alluded to something we want to underscore in the case of the Silver Men. He said:
“What was done cannot be undone. But we can end the silence. We can stop turning our heads away. We can look at you in the eye and finally say on behalf of the American people, what the United States government did was shameful, and I am sorry … To our African American citizens, I am sorry that your federal government orchestrated a study so clearly racist.”
We agree with former President Bill Clinton. We think it is time to end the silence concerning what our ancestors called “The Back Punch,” which caused anxiety and much suffering to thousands of laborers under the Gold and Silver Roll system and about the later secrecy with which all issues related to our Silver People of Panama have been treated to date.
At the very least this entire issue, which does touch directly upon bioethics violations by the U.S. Army, merits an investigation. Gorgas Hospital administered the spinal taps almost exclusively although some private clinics were said to have been involved. Since the hospital and labor records archived for this period are neither open nor available to the public, we ask that these records be investigated for possible human rights and bioethics violations.
We have been working towards gaining access to these records for more than three years now and we have been told that all those records are held by the U.S. State Department. These important records are vital to our intangible cultural heritage which has been virtually wiped out on the Black Canal Zone which our ancestors founded and colonized for almost a century.
This story continues.
1. On this date 150 years ago, November 24th 1859, Charles Darwin published “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection”. Back then it was seen as a challenge to the religious ideology and establishment of the day. I remember reading it when I was in university and I found it… well in a word: boring. I didn’t understand the furor it caused then… and even now for that matter… but as a Christian I have never felt threatened by other ideologies, whether they be religious or secular.
Today, a few of the online magazines and blogs which I read regularly, mentioned this milestone and referenced the debate between evolution and religion, primarily Christianity. Most of the commentary, regardless of the authors’ personal beliefs, tried to probe the issue in a non-judgmental way. However, there were a couple that held the view that if you believed in evolution, you were condemned to hellfire… or if you believed in creationism, then you were an ignoramus who rejected science and believed that the earth was flat. As a born-again Christian, I believe in the infallibility of the Word of God (The Bible) and also in certain aspects of evolution. So I’m not sure where that would place me in each of their eyes.
As I have researched and discussed this topic over the years, I have found that just as there are a variety of scientific theories around evolution, such as Darwinian Evolution, Social Darwinism and Scientific Evolutionary Theory, there are also a variety of religious, particularly a variety of Christian beliefs around creationism. I found that there are creationists, who are different from creation scientists, who are different from those who believe in intelligent design, who are again different from theistic evolutionists. Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals and other denominations have varying beliefs on evolution. This topic is not as simple as the simple-minded on either extremes of this debate would have us believe.
For those want to broaden their outlook and take a more rational approach to the debate, one of the online resources I frequent, The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, has provided an extensive research package on this debate (see here). There are many interesting and informative topics which are discussed from a variety of angles… religious, scientific, political, social, personal, etc.
Although I always say that you need to believe in something or you’ll fall for anything, I am also always reminded by the words of St. Augustine, a theologian in 400AD, who said this in reference to the Genesis account of creation… way before the Darwinian evolution vs. Religion debate:
“In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search for truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it.”
2. I want to share a very interesting article on a blog authored by Lovebug35 entitled: “Racial Diversity in India”. What I found most fascinating is that the first inhabitants of India are the Australoids, who “are generally of dark complexion with wavy hair, broad nose, weak chins and these people form the slum population in India.” Within the Indian Caste system they are at the bottom of the rung and are referred to as “untouchables”. At the top of the caste system are the Indo-Iranians also known as “Aryans” (original Aryans… not the Hitler type), who were the last group to migrate to India. They “are characterized by their pale/fair complexion, narrow noses, long faces with prominent chins and have a variety of hair and eye colors.” It was these Aryans who instituted the caste system.
Well worth the read with lots of photos of each racial group.
(As an aside, this reminds me that I need to finish my post on Sammy Sosa and the whole skin bleaching controvery… coming real soon!)
3. Jamaican Dancehall Reggae star, Beenie Man, has been dropped from a music festival to be held in Australia and New Zealand due to protests and petitions from gay rights groups (see here). They objected to his appearance at the “Big Day Out” festival because the lyrics of some of his songs promote violence against gays and lesbians. Activist refer to him as a “murder music artist”, similar to issues surrounding another Reggae artists Buju Banton, as I had previously discussed in this post.
Recently I have been contemplating if the church has any real significant and positive influence on the world today, especially in the beliefs and actions of western society in particular. There was a time when Christian ideology, through the church was very influential (good and bad) in shaping political, social, cultural and even personal beliefs and viewpoints. I would argued that today this influence is not as great as it was say… even 30 years ago.
I read an analytical report on The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life website which somewhat dealt with this issue, from an interesting point of reference. This article entitled: “Science in America: Religious Beliefs and Public Attitudes”, discussed the findings of a survey which concluded that “when scientific evidence and long-held religious beliefs come into direct conflict, many Americans reject science.”
According to the authours of the report, American society has a unique dichotomy in that on one hand, it is the most religious of the advanced industrial democracies, while on the other hand, it’s leadership in scientific research and application has been instrumental in making it a powerful nation. This has… not surprisingly… created some conflict between faith and science on societal beliefs, particularly on controversial issues such as evolution, homosexuality and global warming. The report primarily looked at the influence of religion and science on these three topics in American society.
The report contended that a close reading of the survey shows that large majorities of the American public respect science and scientists, but where scientific evidence and long-held religious belief come into direct conflict, “many Americans reject science in favor of the teachings of their faith tradition.” However, surprisingly today such areas of explicit differences are not common.
It was interesting to compare the beliefs of Black and White Christians (specifically Evangelicals) on the above three issues, as well as secularists, Conservatives, Moderates, Liberals, college and high school graduates. The results were not as straightforward and/or obvious as one would be expect. There are definite mixtures and combinations of scientific and religious influences which run through even strong held beliefs and opinions.
The report does not necessarily answer my original question on whether the church, Christianity and religion in general is a positive driving force on western society, but it does offer some insight on what motivates beliefs and therefore actions… which can have obvious implications in areas such as the formulation of government statutes and public policies.
I have always enjoyed science fiction. The portrayal of what life could be like in the future, of other civilizations in far off galaxies and worlds, the various possible forms of extra-terrestrial life with their otherworld characteristics and personalities, all of this fascinates me to some extent. From t.v. shows such as Start Trek (the original series) and it’s various other spin-offs, Lost in Space, Logan’s Run, Battlestar Galactica to movies such as the Star Wars sagas, Blade Runner, the Alien(s) series, Total Recall, The 5th Element, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1984, A Clockwork Orange, Planet of the Apes…. are just some of my favourites.
A couple weeks ago I watched an interesting 2-part science fiction docudrama on The Discovery Channel called “Race to Mars“. Set in the year 2030, it is the story of an international team of astro-scientists, made up of four men and two women, who are in a space race against China to be the first to discover life on the “Red Planet”. This international team is headed up by an American (of-course), with a Canadian, Russian, French, Spanish and Japanese crew members. Right from the onset, I was aware that there were no African/African-American/Black representation among the scientists, whether on the mission or at the space center on earth. I guess the Japanese scientist was the “token negro”, as he was the one killed off during the expedition. I found it a little troubling that we weren’t portrayed to be significant in any way…. in this future, where historic scientific discovery was being pursued and ultimately made. I was reminded of a joke I once heard:
“Why aren’t there any Native Americans in Star Trek: The Next Generation? Because they don’t plan to work in the future either.”
Although this so-called “joke” is not funny in any way, it does provide an invaluable truth. There is a saying that there is a “little truth” in every joke. The “invaluable truth” shown here is how Native Americans are perceived by those in the dominant eurocentric culture. In the same way, consciously or subconsciously, those who wrote, produced, casted and directed the film “Race to Mars”, did not see us as being relevant…. as making any positive contribution to the future (or even existing for that matter). In contrast, I had previous to this seen a film entitled “Children of Men”, which had a very bleak, extremely chaotic and pessimistic view of the future…. where we were very visible, numerous and prominent players within the storyline. Continue reading