Longer Looks: Dementia, Science In The Courts, Phages And More
Each week, KHN finds interesting reads from around the Web.
The New York Times:
Can Hearing Aids Help Prevent Dementia?
Hearing loss has long been considered a normal, and thus acceptable, part of aging. It is common: Estimates suggest that it affects two out of three adults age 70 and older. It is also rarely treated. In the U.S., only about 14 percent of adults who have hearing loss wear hearing aids. An emerging body of research, however, suggests that diminished hearing may be a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia — and that the association between hearing loss and cognitive decline potentially begins at very low levels of impairment. (Tingley, 2/20)
For Science In The Courts, The Daubert Name Looms Large
Joyce Daubert's baby weighed six pounds, one-and-three-quarter ounces — but weight was not what set Baby Boy Daubert apart. Nor was it the timing of his birth on July 26, 1973, almost two weeks past her due date. What shocked everyone in the delivery room at Palomar Memorial Hospital, in Escondido, California, were the newborn’s tiny limbs. Joyce, who was 26 at the time, first saw what looked like a vestigial big toe, and she remembered saying: “What’s wrong with his foot?” Her son appeared to have only two fingers on his right hand, and his right arm was rigid, angled up towards his face, almost, she thought, like a chicken wing. “I’m trying to figure out what’s happening and I’m just shocked,” she recalled. “And, you think, ‘Oh my God, what did I do wrong? Is he going to live?’” (Smith, 2/17)
A Ton Of Giant Viruses Are Living In Your Mouth
Your mouth is currently teeming with giant viruses that, until very recently, no one knew existed. Unlike Ebola or the new coronavirus that’s currently making headlines, these particular viruses don’t cause disease in humans. They’re part of a group known as phages, which infect and kill bacteria. But while many phages are well studied, these newly discovered giants are largely mysterious. Why are they 10 times bigger than other phages? How do they reproduce? And what are they up to inside our bodies? “They’re in our saliva, and in our gut,” says Jill Banfield of the University of California, Berkeley, who led the team that discovered the new phages. “Who knows what they’re doing?” (Yong, 2/20)
The New Yorker:
The Search For New Words To Make Us Care About The Climate Crisis
The reason we find ourselves verging toward planetary extinction is fairly simple: for quite some time, it’s been profitable for humans to behave this way. For business and government, it’s always been easier to toggle between plunder and neglect than to mind long-term, civilizational time lines. The actual conspiracy is that we are made to feel as though humanity’s fate were purely a matter of personal choice—our desire to buy this, that, or nothing at all, our collective willingness to recycle or compost. This isn’t to say that we possess no power at all. But the scale of the problem is difficult to comprehend, and discussions leave many of us feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed, reduced to myopic debates about whether we are too scared or not scared enough. (Hsu, 2/21)