Whistling in the dark: Media and science citations

I was talking to an emergency room doc for a few hours a couple of  Saturdays ago – about two of those hours involved him stitching up my sliced ear from another fall – and he told me his hobbies were macro may and needlework.

I told him it’s good to be good at what you do.

The association between mention of scientific research in popular media (e.g., the mainstream media or social media platforms) and scientific impact (e.g., citations) has yet to be fully explored. The purpose of this study was to clarify this relationship, while accounting for some other factors that likely influence scientific impact (e.g., the reputations of the scientists conducting the research and academic journal in which the research was published). To accomplish this purpose, approximately 800 peer-reviewed articles describing original research were evaluated for scientific impact, popular media attention, and reputations of the scientists/authors and publication venue. A structural equation model was produced describing the relationship between non-scientific impact (popular media) and scientific impact (citations), while accounting for author/scientist and journal reputation.

The resulting model revealed a strong association between the amount of popular media attention given to a scientific research project and corresponding publication and the number of times that publication is cited in peer-reviewed scientific literature. These results indicate that (1) peer-reviewed scientific publications receiving more attention in non-scientific media are more likely to be cited than scientific publications receiving less popular media attention, and (2) the non-scientific media is associated with the scientific agenda.

These results may inform scientists who increasingly use popular media to inform the general public and scientists concerning their scientific work. These results might also inform administrators of higher education and research funding mechanisms, who base decisions partly on scientific impact.

A case study exploring associations between popular media attention of scientific research and scientific citations, 01 July 2020

PLOS One

Sage Anderson, Aubrey R. Odom, Hunter M. Gray, Jordan B. Jones, William F. Christensen, Todd Hollingshead, Joseph G. Hadfield, Alyssa Evans-Pickett, Megan Frost, Christopher Wilson, Lance E. Davidson, Matthew K. Seeley

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0234912

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0234912

US to miss foodborne disease reduction goals

I’ve said this for years.

Need new messages, new strategy.

The American Veterinary Medical Association newsletter reports numbers of confirmed illnesses in humans resulting from common foodborne pathogens have risen or remained level for several years, putting the U.S. on track to miss 2020 reduction targets.

Better tests and more testing may help explain why the numbers have not fallen, but to reach its goals, the U.S. needs more work to reduce food contamination, according to authors of an article published this spring in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Among the findings, the authors wrote that preliminary 2019 data show confirmed illness counts for Listeria, Salmonella, and Shigella have remained unchanged over several years, and confirmed illness counts for the other five pathogens tracked by the CDC’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network increased.
“FoodNet surveillance data indicate that progress in controlling major foodborne pathogens in the United States has stalled,” the article states. “To better protect the public and achieve forthcoming Healthy People 2030 foodborne disease reduction goals, more widespread implementation of known prevention measures and new strategies that target particular pathogens and serotypes are needed.”

I saw the Hip at a bar in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada on this tour with my 6-month pregnant ex-wife.

Great show.

Bureaucratic bullshit: Communication inside risk assessment and risk management (COMRISK): Final report, 08 July 2020

For those who care about how risk information is provided – I despise the words educate and communicate – welcome to the world of the European Food Safety Authority.

How hard is it to tell a story, one that is backed with credible information?

That’s how people learn.

A key feature of risk analysis is that risk assessment and risk management should be functionally separated (bullshit). However, the usefulness of a risk assessment may be limited if the output is not designed to help with risk management decisions. The COMRISK project investigated the communication between risk assessors and risk managers. The overall goal of the project was to identify current practices and challenges in communication between risk assessors and risk managers during the risk analysis process, and thus increase and improve the understanding and the quality of the communication between them.

Specific actions to achieve this aim included reviewing of historical food safety cases, analysing risk assessment requests, identifying communication guiding documents, including legislation and agreements, conducting semi‐structured interviews with risk assessors and risk managers, and identifying tools for facilitating the communication between risk assessors and risk managers.

It was concluded that the usefulness of a risk assessment is strongly dependent on well‐defined and mutually recognised risk questions and that scarce or poor communication between risk assessors and risk managers is one of the major reasons when an output from risk assessment fails to support risk management. The communication between risk assessors and risk managers preceding the onset of the risk assessment, when the risk assessment requests with its risk questions are defined, is especially identified as one of the critical points to ensure a risk assessment that is fit for purpose. However, difficulties in understanding were also reported for the communication between risk assessors and risk managers during and after the risk assessment. Lack of communication is seldom a result of formal constraints or agreements nor can it be explained by a wish of the risk assessors or risk managers. Instead, perceived constraints or traditions appear to be possible underlying factors leading to scarce or poor communication between risk assessors and risk managers. It is essential that both risk assessors and risk managers acknowledge the crucial importance of communication between them while at the same time respect their different roles in a risk analysis.

According to respondents, the best solution to facilitate the framing of the risk assessment questions is an open dialogue between risk assessors and risk managers to agree on the goal of the assessment and to build trust. Further, the interview results indicate that a formal systematic process may facilitate communication during the risk analysis. Where there is uncertainty, e.g due to data gaps or issues related to the methodology and models, it should be acknowledged and described properly by risk assessors to risk managers. Training of risk assessors and risk managers may improve the possibility of a timely and fit‐for‐purpose output. Such a training should give a deeper insight in the risk management process, give a better understanding of the risk managers role, and especially raise the awareness of the importance of the communication between risk assessors and risk managers.

To improve the risk analysis process, it is also important that the risk assessor gets feedback regarding how risk assessments have met the needs of the risk managers. The present study also found that aspects of risk communication studied in this project are not extensively discussed in the guidance documents for risk analysis. More research is needed to identify the barriers for a fit for purpose communication.

Hundreds of drones take to the South Korea sky to send message of social distancing and handwashing

South Korea has done everything big on coronavirus.

Now, over 300 drones have taken to the sky in South Korea to remind people of the importance of practicing social distancing and handwashing.

This resulted in a spectacular display over the Han River on Saturday.

The drones formed a white face mask and red circles were used to symbolize coronavirus particles, which has claimed the lives of almost 300 people in the country.

Messages of support and images of medical workers also appeared in the 10-minute display that was organized by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport.

One of the displays said “ThanksToChallenge”, which made reference to a South Korean social media campaign that was created to show thanks to healthcare workers in the county.

There were no crowds watching the event because it was not advertised ahead of time.

The government captioned a video of the event on YouTube: “Thank you for the efforts of the people and medical staff.

“We express our gratitude and respect to all who suffer from Covid-19.”

This display comes after South Korea was praised for its response to the virus, quickly containing the initial outbreak, although the country has experienced sporadic cases since – caused by small gatherings and door-to-door sales practices.

According to the Mirror, South Korea has reported just 68 cases of coronavirus today and 33 of them are imported.

However, the country is preparing itself for a potential second wave of infections and this drone display was undoubtedly a timely reminder to its citizens that they are not out of the woods yet.

Vietnam too.

 

Chinese primary school hit by food poisoning with more than 100 children hooked to drips

Abigail O’Leary of the Mirror writes that a primary school hit by a wave of food poisoning caused scenes of chaos as more than 100 children were struck down. 

The school, in the central Chinese province of Henan, saw pupils suffering from vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhoea.

Officials are now investigating a so-called ‘central kitchen project’ in Yucheng County, where four government-contracted catering companies are supplying school meals to 4,500 kids.

Distressing images from rural hospitals in the county show young children hooked up to intravenous drips while others are slumped on chairs in waiting areas with their parents.

More than 100 youngsters have been admitted to hospital since Wednesday (10th June). County officials said most have been discharged, but some are still receiving treatment.

It’s been done before: Porn stars deployed in New Zealand government’s online safety campaign-video

A New Zealand government advertising campaign aimed at promoting online safety for under 18s features two naked ‘porn stars’. The adult actors knock on the door of a family home to tell the mother ‘your son’s been watching us online’. The stunned mother listens as she is told that porn stars don’t talk about consent and ‘just get straight to it’. ‘Yeah, and I’d never act like that in real life,’ the male porn star says. The Keep It Real Online series also includes videos addressing cyberbullying, grooming by paedophiles, and the ease of children’s access to violent content.

It’s only a movie, but 2004’s The Girl Next Door, featuring Canadian Elisha Cuthbert features porn stars making a sex-ed tape.

Compost sounds cool, but is it food safety safe

Twenty years ago, I sent one of my students to a big organic conference in Guelph, and requested that she ask one question: How do you know compost is microbiologically safe?

The answer was not convincing.

‘There’s so many good bacteria they out-compete the bad bacteria.’

Fairytale.

Ten years ago, I was visiting a colleague in Melbourne in his high-rise office and he said, see those crappy little houses down there with their crappy little backyard gardens, they provide the produce for Melbourne’s high-end restaurants, and it’s all fertilized with night soil’ (human shit).

A couple of days ago The Packer published a piece about composting food safety.

Doug Grant, who chairs the Center for Produce Safety’s Knowledge Transfer Task Force wrote that composting is a seemingly magical process that decomposes organic materials like green waste or animal manures through microbial fermentation, creating nutrient-rich amendments that can be added back to soils.

It’s not magical; it’s microbiological.

However, compost can also pose a risk to the food safety of fresh produce.

Animal manure is widely suspected to be a significant source of human pathogens. Cows can carry E. coli, while poultry and swine can carry Salmonella. If compost is made with manure containing such pathogens, and the composting process is not controlled properly, these pathogens can survive composting. Contaminated compost applied to fields can then cross-contaminate fresh produce that contacts amended soil during growth, irrigation or harvest.

Yes, we have over 20 years of evidence.

Gurmail Mudahar, Ph.D., is vice president of research and development and food safety at Tanimura & Antle and is a member of CPS’s technical committee and California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement’s (LGMA) advisory board. He reports that his company used to prepare and apply their own animal manure-based composts.  That changed when food safety emerged as a major leafy greens industry issue almost two decades ago.

Then Tanimura & Antle and other growers began buying compost only from specialized manufacturers to minimize produce safety hazards. 

At its simplest, composting is a manufacuring process. To produce compost safely, the most critical controls are high temperature and time held at that temperature. Over time, the heat generated by microbial respiration in turn reduces the compost’s microbial population, including any human pathogens present. 

As a general rule, compost temperatures must reach 131 degrees Fahrenheit or 55 degrees Celsius for 3-15 days, followed by a curing phase of least 21 days and preferably a few months. (Once applied to agricultural fields, pathogens continue to die off when exposed to sunlight’s ultraviolet rays, humidity, temperature, time and other factors.)

Use a thermometer and stick it in.

From the duh files: Your chicken is no longer pink. That doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat

The New York Times followed up on the chicken study and how to tell if it’s done that I wrote about last week with a meandering story about color, texture, and stupidly recommends using pop-up thermometers.

Me and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and many others have been saying the same thing for over 20 years: Use a fucking tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

That is all.

166 sick: Over half under 5 from Salmonella in pet bearded dragons

Reptiles are one of the fastest growing sectors in the United States pet industry. Reptile-associated salmonellosis (RAS) continues to be an important public health problem, especially among children.

We investigated an outbreak of human Salmonella infections resulting from serotypes Cotham and Kisarawe, predominately occurring among children. An outbreak of illnesses was identified in persons with exposure to pet bearded dragon lizards. Human and animal health officials, in cooperation with the pet industry, conducted epidemiologic, traceback and laboratory investigations. Onsite sampling was conducted at two US breeding facilities, one foreign breeding facility, and a large pet retail chain. A total of 166 patients in 36 states were identified with illness onset dates from 02/2012-06/2014. The median patient age was 3 years (range, <1-79 years), 57% were aged ≤5 years, and 37% were aged ≤1 year. Forty-four patients (37%) were hospitalized, predominantly children. Sampling at breeding facilities and a national pet store chain resulted in isolation of outbreak serotypes at each facility; isolation proportions ranged from 2%-24% of samples collected at each facility.

Epidemiologic, microbiologic and traceback evidence linked an outbreak of uncommon Salmonella serotypes to contact with pet bearded dragons. The high proportion of infants involved in this outbreak highlights the need to educate owners about the risk of RAS in children and the potential for household contamination by pet reptiles or their habitats. Strategies should be developed to improve breeding practices, biosecurity and monitoring protocols to reduce Salmonella in the pet reptile trade.

 

 

Outbreak of human infections with uncommon salmonella serotypes linked to pet beareded dragons, 2012-2014, 18 April 2020

Zoonoses Public Health

Kiebler CA1Bottichio L1Simmons L1Basler C1Klos R2Gurfield N3Roberts E4Kimura A4Lewis LS5Bird K5Stiles F5Schlater LK6Lantz K6Edling T7Barton Behravesh C1.

doi: 10.1111/zph.12701

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32304287

Coronavirus communication and trust

The global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has already had an enormous impact and will surely have profound consequences for many years to come.

The authors reflect on three risk communication themes related to the pandemic: trust, tradeoffs, and preparedness. Trust is critically important during such a rapidly evolving event characterized by scientific uncertainty. Reflections focus on uncertainty communication, transparency, and long-term implications for trust in government and science. On tradeoffs, the positive and unintended negative effects of three key risk communication messages are considered (1) stay at home, (2) some groups are at higher risk, and (3) daily infections and deaths.

The authors argue that greater attention to message ‘tradeoffs’ over ‘effectiveness’ and ‘evaluation’ over ‘intuition’ would help guide risk communicators under pressure. On preparedness, past infectious disease outbreak recommendations are examined. Although COVID-19 was inevitably ‘unexpected’, important preparedness actions were largely overlooked such as building key risk communication capacities.

COVID-19: Reflections on trust, tradeoffs, and preparedness, April 2020

Journal of Risk Research

Dominic HP Balog-Way and Katherine A McComas

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340958173_COVID-19_Reflections_on_trust_tradeoffs_and_preparedness/references?utm_medium=email&utm_source=researchgate&utm_campaign=re413&loginT=iZBjE6QqKQDtgm9mIth3elm18k_fuz-NWD_VJXbuMq0_VSlbSUu0QyWSAb06_bTWyEX92MLG8X_6SgQ&pli=1&utm_term=re413_p_pb&utm_content=re413_p_pb_p4&cp=re413_p_pb_p4&uid=nL3zUTnj0PdkgYxg8hJW1mCbrq7iJZlhMSga&ch=reg

When our eldest daughter was about six-weeks-old in 1987, my ex and I took her to a Grateful Dead concert at an outdoor amphitheater north of Toronto. We sat at the back. The dead did this Buddy Holly song as part of their encore and it was fabulous.