Jack Auty

N=1: What can we learn from a case report - Unsorted

Nov 01, 2018

Warning: this blog is on a sensitive subject of adult themes. In medicine a case report is when a detailed description of a patient is published because something can be learnt from this one case. Case reports are a kind of evidence that must be scrutinized carefully because ultimately it’s just an N of 1 (only one person in the study). But on occasion they can be a striking piece of evidence. The case study of Phineas Gage is a classic example. Phineas had the frontal lobe of his brain removed by an accident involving a metal rod, propelled by explosives, flying through his head. He went from a nice responsible person to a difficult individual with a gambling problem. Because it’s extremely unlikely that Phineas Gage uses his brain differently to the rest of us, we learnt that … Read More

Proteins- not just a food group - News

Mar 27, 2018

  Research that focuses on the fundamental, nitty gritty, seemingly inapplicable, minutia of the world is not very appealing or engaging, and on the surface seems like a waste of taxpayer money. But fundamental research is essential,  underfunded and hugely important. You can only build a beautiful building on solid foundations but unfortunately very few people care about what is under the world’s greatest architectural achievements. The research our group just published may be the most important discovery I will make in my career but it’s just some concrete in the ground, so unlike some of my other research, you won’t see it in the media. But this is my attempt to make it at least digestible to the general public. Proteins are not just a food group used to make ‘massive gains’ in the gym, they are the … Read More

Polling, landlines and the age of everybody is an expert - Mere Conjecture

Sep 15, 2017

Polls can be wrong. But the Brexit polls had the race at 50/50 right before the election and that was a pretty good estimate of what happened. The Trump/Hillary polls estimated about a 71% chance of Hillary winning and you could argue that the polls were wrong, but that is like arguing that a coin that lands on heads twice in a row it must be a double sided coin. A 29% thing happened and that is not uncommon (in fact it happens about 29% of the time). Note Hillary did win the popular vote and it’s only through the peculiar electoral college system that the USA has a Larry Davidesque president who threatens to bring “fire and fury, and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before”. Right now in New Zealand … Read More

50% of people who lived in 1917 were intellectually disabled - Mere Conjecture

Jan 07, 2017

More than half the world was intellectually disabled prior to 1917CE….. if you extrapolate the Flynn effect. This blog will be an interesting dive into IQ, intellectual disability, crime, time travel and the Flynn effect. Let’s start by saying that you are probably “smarter” (whatever that means) than your parents. That’s right, when you were a pimply, hormone filled, teenager and you thought your parents were morons you might have actually been right. Well not morons, but maybe 6 to 9 IQ points lower than you. Einstein 100 years ago predicted gravitational waves which were discovered in 2016. Kim Kardashian “I rented my mom a monkey for the week because she had a syndrome where she missed children in the house.”. And that’s why anecdotal evidence is a waste of time. Let’s start at the beginning, IQ (intelligent quotient) … Read More

Do New Year’s Resolutions Work? - Mere Conjecture

Dec 20, 2016

New year’s resolutions- the Babylonians did it, the Romans did it and now we do it; with one survey suggesting that this ancient tradition is still popular reporting that over 40% americans taking part. Evidence can also be found in trends of google searches, you’ll see an annual cycle of google searchers for the word “diet” nearly doubling between the beginning of December to the beginning of January. But do news years resolutions work? Fig 1. The annual cycle of failed aspirations. One group of University of Scranton researchers would argue that resolution definitely do work (Norcross et al. 2002). They recruited 434 people into a study in December 2001. These people were asked are you planning on making a new year’s resolution this year? 159 said yes and the rest said no. But of the … Read More

Is science censored? - Mere Conjecture

Aug 03, 2016

There was a recent piece in New Zealand news about mass governmental censorship of scientists. Starting with apocalyptic images of the Fukushima nuclear power plant incident to instill fear, they painted a picture of mass governmental meddling with scientists reporting their results, with the clear insinuation that our lives could be at risk because of this censorship. To give you an idea of how this was an obvious piece of propaganda, they manipulated the video footage of the Fukushima reactor exploding to make it appear more like the nuclear blasts we’ve seen in the movies, adding a bright white flash that isn’t there in the raw footage . This is a classic media approach- fear gets views. But are we really in danger? Are there scientists in New Zealand right now currently aware of a cataclysmic disaster but aren’t … Read More