UCD offers certificate in jabbing people randomly with pins

Via Buzz, an Irish Times opinion piece about Irish third level educational institutions offering new courses in sorcery (or its modern-day equivalent):

The Graduate Certificate in Healthcare (Acupuncture) at UCD is aimed at those with a primary degree in health care, eg medicine or physiotherapy. This is a part-time course delivered over one year. The programme “provides education in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that will equip the healthcare professional with the necessary skills to assess and treat a broad range of acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions”.

This reflects extremely poorly on the Graduate School of Life Sciences, which offers the course. Perhaps worse than that, it also implies that some significant number of graduates coming out of UCD’s undergraduate courses in medicine are unable to distinguish real medicine from quackery. Otherwise there would be no-one going into this new program.

Maybe if UCD had turned down the road of pseudo-science sooner I could have gone straight from my theoretical physics degree into a postgraduate diploma in intelligent falling.

World’s First Lab-Engineered Organ Transplant

Woman given lab-engineered organ transplant – The Irish Times:

A woman has become the first person in the world to be given an entirely laboratory engineered organ in a landmark operation.

Claudia Castillo’s stem cells were used to create an artificial airway which replaced the bronchus to her left lung, which had collapsed after she suffered a serious tuberculosis infection.

Two things:

First, I don’t want anyone saying, “I’d give her a lab-engineered organ, if you know what I’m talking about!

Second, I think this technique is going to re-shape how we perform not only transplant operations but also cosmetic surgery, which is about adding things as much as it is about taking things away.

Ireland’s Proposed New Surveillance Legislation

I’ve just shared an item in Google Reader with an attached note that seems substantial enough to merit re-posting it here. The note concerns an article in the Irish Times about a surveillance bill that is to be brought before the cabinet tomorrow. Here it is:

It strikes me that this whole push is flawed in two major ways.

The first is that it seems to be very emotionally motivated: every news story about it makes a big deal about a single, recent, high-profile murder. But the plural of anecdote is not data, and extrapolating from a single event to try to demonstrate a trend is at best ignorant and at worst dishonest. The only useful statistic mentioned in this article, right at the bottom, indicates that gang crime in Limerick is falling dramatically. That’s not to say that that interpretation is necessarily correct either, but I’d like to see more fact and less emotion in the drafting and reporting of legislation.

The second major flaw is that no-one in the news media, as far as I can tell, has tried to discover whether or not this proposed legislation will expand the powers of the Gardaí to surveil without warrant, or whether it will simply allow more types of evidence to be admitted in court. This is the difference between a large potential infringement on individual privacy, and a small but significant alteration to judicial process. That strikes me as a large enough difference that it should be possible for an interested citizen to discover which is being proposed.