Observational studies of COVID vaccine efficacy are riddled with bias/ Not counting cases 14 days after dose 2 is a problem




In the experiment, he says, what if we compare the control arm of the Pfizer study against an imaginary vaccine arm. And for the thought experiment assume the vaccine is useless. As the table above shows, both groups have identical numbers of covid cases— just what you would expect from a useless vaccine. A straight forward analysis shows no benefit (second to last row)

But in the ‘fictional vaccine observational study’ cases are excluded for 36 days. When this is done the useless vaccine, looks like it reduces infections by 48%!!

Doshi makes a very good point in his paper that the solution is to subtract the 36 day infection rate from the observational control arm. Sadly most investigations don’t do that.

This is one of several biases Doshi discusses, and it plagues the vaccine literature.

Author(s): Vinay Prasad

Publication Date: 14 May 2024

Publication Site: Vinay Prasad’s Observations and Thoughts, substack

#20: Many great things you missed this year

Link: https://www.scientificdiscovery.dev/p/20-so-many-great-things-you-missed



You can see that, in childhood, in the US, the most common causes of death are ‘external causes’. This is a broad category that includes accidents, falls, violence, and overdoses, and is shown in red. But there’s also a notable contribution from birth disorders (in muted green), childhood cancers (in blue), and respiratory diseases (in cyan).

The share of deaths in childhood from cancers stood out to me. We’ve seen lots of progress against many childhood cancers over the last 50 years — notably in treating leukemia, brain cancers, kidney cancers, lymphomas, and retinoblastoma — but this is a reminder that there’s still further to go.

From adolescence until middle-age, ‘external causes’ are now the overwhelming cause of death. Around 80% of deaths at the age of 20 in the US are due to external causes. These result from causes such as accidents, violence, and overdoses.

At older ages, diseases rise in importance. Causes of death also become more varied, although cardiovascular diseases and cancers are the most common.

You might also be wondering about the brown category at the bottom, called ‘special ICD codes’. That’s a placeholder category in the system for deaths caused by new diseases — predominantly Covid-19, since the data spans 2018 to 2021.3


Publication Date: 16 Mar 2022

Publication Site: Scientific Discovery on substack

Facebook Public Pension Groups Replace Unions, Protecting Worker Retirement Savings

Link: https://pensionwarriorsdwardsiedle.substack.com/p/facebook-public-pension-groups-replace


On the other hand, my experience conducting a forensic investigation of the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio on behalf of the 20,000 member-strong Ohio Retired Teachers Association has convinced me that Facebook groups can be a powerful force to combat looting of America’s pensions by Wall Street. In Ohio, two Facebook groups, Ohio STRS Members Only Forum (36,000 members) and the STRS Ohio Watchdogs (14,000 members) are vigilantly working to expose gross mismanagement at STRS Ohio identified in a forensic investigation I completed.

This past week, I was introduced to another vibrant Facebook group pushing for reform of the Minnesota state pension system. While the name of the group, Pension Reform for Tier II Minnesota Public Educators, may not be catchy, with nearly 19,000 members it also appears to be a formidable advocate. In the group’s words:


It’s no secret that most of our nation’s public pension funds are grossly underfunded. Not surprising, the single greatest concern of pension participants today is whether the pensions they rely upon for their retirement security are prudently managed and if pensioners will receive all the benefits they have been supposedly promised.

While for over two decades I have implored unions to get actively involved in scrutinizing the management of pension investments—serving a watchdog function which pension boards are ill-equipped to perform—rarely have I been successful in persuading these unions that the best way to preserve pensions is to expose and address problems, not hide them. Unions tend to believe that any criticism of pensions will only lead sponsors to no longer offer them to workers.

Author(s): Edward Siedle

Publication Date: 9 Jan 2024

Publication Site: Pension Warriors on substack

How to Honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month




It’s not the orgy of pink that reminds me of breast cancer. It’s the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. I have a rooting interest, and so far I’ve been disappointed. I want the prize to go to UCLA cancer researcher Dennis Slamon, who in recent years has been on the Great Mentioner’s short list (an improvement since I started paying attention a decade or so ago).

Slamon’s work did two things: Beginning with HER2+ breast cancer, it demonstrated that cancers could be identified by specific genetic variants, rather than merely where they occur in the body. Then it showed that those variations could be targeted and treated with specific antibodies. The first practical result was the drug Herceptin, which treats the roughly 25 percent of breast cancer patients with an especially aggressive form.


The usual sources were still not interested in paying for research. But in 1989, Slamon was treating Hollywood honcho Brandon Tartikoff, best known for his stint as president of NBC, for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Tartikoff’s wife Lilly was grateful for the care and asked Slamon what she might do to help him. He told her about the idea of finding a drug to treat HER2+ breast cancer. Soon thereafter, in a classic Hollywood moment, she ran into Ronald O. Perelman, who owned Revlon, at Wolfgang Puck’s original Spago restaurant. She gave him the pitch: You own Revlon. Revlon sells to women. Women get breast cancer. You and Revlon should support this research. He agreed to let his representative meet with Slamon.

At the meeting, Slamon was accompanied by his colleague John Glaspy, who is a notably blunt-spoken person. Even if they got government funding, Glaspy warned, it would take several years and by then “we’ll have a Rose Bowl full of dead women” from breast cancer. The pitch worked. 


In 1998, the drug was approved for treatment of Stage 4 HER2+ breast cancer and in 2006 it was approved for treating early stage cancers. A year later, it saved my life.

Author(s): Virginia Postrel

Publication Date: 9 Oct 2023

Publication Site: Virginia Postrel’s newsletter at Substack

Ending the “Thank You” Ending Slide




Let’s take a simple example and say you’re the author of this Brookings Institution report about how educating girls in developing countries is a great investment for families, communities, and countries. You go through your argument, presenting the data, facts, and statistics to drive home your message and call to action. You get to the end of your presentation with ample time for questions and answers when you show the slide above and say, “Thank you so much for having me. Are there any questions?”

At this point, let’s say you get some questions and there is some interesting discussion. All that time, the audience is left looking at this “Thank You. Any Questions?” slide. You’ve already said what’s on the slide—we don’t (well, shouldn’t) put everything we say on all of our slides anyways—so how does this slide help your audience? How does it reinforce your message and help them know what to do next?

Instead, what if you showed this slide and said, “Thank you so much for having me. What questions do you have?”

Author(s): Jon Schwabish

Publication Date: 1 Nov 2023

Publication Site: PolicyViz Newsletter at Substack

Covid National Emergency Ends

Link: https://kelleyk.substack.com/p/covid-national-emergency-ends



Biden signed H.J.Res. 7, which ended the national emergency for Covid. Both the text of the bill, and the corresponding press release from the White House are short and sweet. The White House recently said Biden “strongly opposes HJ Res 7,” but that he would sign the bill if it passed. It passed with bipartisan support in both the House.

One thing that is tied to the national emergency is an extension of COBRA deadlines for people who are out of work. These deadlines are extended during the “outbreak period” which ends 60 days after the end of the national emergency.

The DHS rules for vaccine mandates for foreign travelers at land border crossings from Canada and Mexico rely on the national emergency as their legal basis, so theoretically they will end with the national emergency. But there has been no official actions to lift those rules, and I suspect the White House expects this vaccine mandate to continue for at least another month. (See section on travel vaccine mandates further down for more details.)

Author(s): Kelly K

Publication Date: 11 April 2023

Publication Site: Check Your Work

What You Can Do To Force Your State Pension To Be Transparent About Its Investments

Link: https://pensionwarriorsdwardsiedle.substack.com/p/what-you-can-do-to-force-your-state


So what can you do to force your state or local government pension to be more transparent? That’s a question I asked Marc Dann, an attorney in private practice in Ohio and the former Attorney General of Ohio. (Dann is currently litigating a public records request on my behalf against the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio.)

Say attorney Dann: “Refer to your state’s public records laws in making a request. Be as detailed and specific in the request as you can possibly be. Remember public records are only those records that may actually exist. For example, instead of asking for a list of all hedge, private equity or venture capital fund investments, ask for a prospectus, offering documents or reports provided to the pension by each investment fund (and name the investment funds—which are generally named on the state or local pension’s website).  Most states allow legal fee-shifting in public records lawsuits. So if the pension or fund resists, you may wish to consider bringing in a lawyer who agrees to be paid his fee from any recovery from the pension. Don’t forget to reach out to allied members of your state legislature or city council who can put pressure on the pensions to properly respond to the requests.”

Author(s): Edward Siedle

Publication Date: 22 Mar 2023

Publication Site: Pension Warriors on substack

From the Archives: “How Dodd-Frank Locks Out the Least Affluent Homebuyers”

Link: https://vpostrel.substack.com/p/from-the-archives-how-dodd-frank?utm_source=substack


This Axios report on a JPMorgan Chase program giving black and Latino borrowers $5,000 toward down payments or home loan closing costs reminded me of a column I wrote in November [2021].  It’s about one of the most infuriating public policy fiascos I’ve run into in a very long time. Hardly anyone knows about this regulatory devastation of household wealth amog people whose inexpensive homes represented years of thrift and hard work. (The only reason I learned of it is that I happened to meet Craig Richardson at an unrelated conference.) It is absolutely heartbreaking. It reminds me of the famous quote from The Great Gatsby: “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”


About one in five U.S. homes are valued at $100,000 or less. And despite their low prices, they’ve gotten extremely hard to sell. When they move at all, these small-dollar properties tend to go for cash. Lenders increasingly won’t write mortgages for them.

“Over the last decade, origination for mortgage loans between $10,000 and $70,000 and between $70,000 and $150,000 has dropped by 38 percent and 26 percent, respectively, while origination for loans exceeding $150,000 rose by a staggering 65 percent,” reports a new study on small-dollar mortgages from the Center for the Study of Economic Mobility at Winston-Salem State University and the Future of Land and Housing program at the New America think tank. The study is scheduled for release on Tuesday [Nov 9, 2021].

The culprits behind the disappearance of small-dollar mortgages are lending restrictions enacted with good intentions and warped by economic blind spots. Designed to protect borrowers and the financial system, the Dodd-Frank Act regulations passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis “increased the fixed costs and the per-loan costs of extending a mortgage,” says the study. The regulation-imposed costs made small-dollar mortgages a lousy proposition for lenders.

Compounding the problem, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau then limited the fees that lenders could charge as closing costs. For profit-oriented lenders, small-dollar mortgages are no longer worth the trouble. At best, they squeeze out the tiniest of margins. At worst, they don’t even cover the fixed cost of processing the loan.

Author(s): Virginia Postrel

Publication Date: 25 June 2022

Publication Site: Virginia’s Newsletter at substack

Drowning Prevention: How the American Academy of Pediatrics is failing our children

Link: https://authenticpediatrics.substack.com/p/drowning-prevention-how-the-american


In June 2021 I co-authored an article with drowning prevention parent advocate Nicole Hughes on the subject of water competency in 1-4 year old children and which national swim lesson program methodology aimed to teach this highest risk age group survival skills to best protect against an unplanned submersion.

The purpose of this article was to provide parents and primary care pediatricians with a direct comparison of popular formal swim lesson curriculums of the American Red Cross, YMCA, and Infant Swim Resource (ISR) to inform them on which program better aligns with the parent’s goals for water competency for their young child.

A secondary objective of this commentary was to highlight the methodology of survival swim as a type of formal swim program that in many ways appears superior for this high risk age group due to its ability to teach independent back floating and swim float swim without flotation devices. Despite being the only prominent formal swim lesson program that does this for the under 4 year olds, the AAP without any evidence has come out guns blazing against it.

This is evidenced by the recent parent article in JAMA Pediatrics which states: “Teaching children to swim is important, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended swim lessons as early as age 1 year to provide another protection layer. However, infant swim classes such as Infant Swimming Resource have not been shown to lower the risk of drowning. As an alternative, families may seek out parent-child water play classes to gain familiarity and comfort with being around water together.

Yet despite the lack of data on benefit vs. harm for each type of formal swim lessons, the AAP feels justified to advocate against ISR survival swim while advocating for Mommy and Me group swim lessons with the goal of comfort over survival.

One year after the publication of our article, the American Academy of Pediatrics authors of the 2019 Policy on Drowning Prevention submitted a Letter to the Editor to Contemporary Pediatrics criticizing our article to which we responded in an Author Response. For unexplained reasons neither letter was published by the journal of record.

Due to the importance of advancing this conversation to better understand the likely benefit and lack of harm of survival swim as a crucial layer of drowning prevention protection, I will publish both the AAP Letter to Editor and Author Response below. It is my hope that you read both. When reading, please do so within the context of an AAP that willingly advocates for non-pharmacological interventions (NPI) such mandatory masking of children for prevention of COVID-19 – stating that there is no evidence that it causes harm or developmental delays while willingly advocating against ISR survival swim – stating that it is harmful and lacks evidence of benefit without any such evidence to make either claim.

Author(s): Todd R Porter

Publication Date: 1 Oct 2022

Publication Site: Authentic Pediatrics at substack

The amazing power of “machine eyes”

Link: https://erictopol.substack.com/p/the-amazing-power-of-machine-eyes



Today’s report on AI of retinal vessel images to help predict the risk of heart attack and stroke, from over 65,000 UK Biobank participants, reinforces a growing body of evidence that deep neural networks can be trained to “interpret” medical images far beyond what was anticipated. Add that finding to last week’s multinational study of deep learning of retinal photos to detect Alzheimer’s disease with good accuracy. In this post I am going to briefly review what has already been gleaned from 2 classic medical images—the retina and the electrocardiogram (ECG)—as representative for the exciting capability of machine vision to “see” well beyond human limits. Obviously, machines aren’t really seeing or interpreting and don’t have eyes in the human sense, but they sure can be trained from hundreds of thousand (or millions) of images to come up with outputs that are extraordinary. I hope when you’ve read this you’ll agree this is a particularly striking advance, which has not yet been actualized in medical practice, but has enormous potential.

Author(s): Eric Topol

Publication Date: 4 Oct 2022

Publication Site: Eric Topol’s substack, Ground Truths

Data visualization lessons: Jitter charts, screwups, and visionaries

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/data-visualization-lessons-jitter



Jitter charts are my new favorite tool for displaying how distributions change over time.

I used them to great effect in my recent post One Bad Year? Comparing the Long-Term Public Pension Fund Returns Against Assumptions.

I’m often looking at distributions, and wanting to communicate something about how those distributions change over time, or how distributions compare. Often, I have to simply pick out key percentiles in those distributions, or key aspects, such as mean and standard deviation.

But why not graph all the points in one’s sample directly, if one has them?

That’s where jitter charts can help.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 16 Sep 2022

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

World Suicide Prevention Day: U.S. Suicide Trend Update through 2021

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/world-suicide-prevention-day-us-suicide



In updating the 2021 numbers, there is some bad news: while suicide rates had decreased in 2020, in 2021 they increased to continue a worrying trend:

The increase in 2021 brought the age-adjusted death rate back to a level close to the peak, which was in 2018.

As noted on the graph, the cumulative increase in the age-adjusted death rate from the minimum in 2000 to the current levels has been 35%. This is very worrying.

I could have exaggerated this trend by starting my vertical scale at 10 instead of 0, but I think it’s obvious enough the trend is bad.

I don’t need to exaggerate.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 10 Sep 2022

Publication Site: STUMP on substack