What makes humans smarter than apes?

The answer is not raw brain processing power, but rather it is our ability to learn from others. At least that is the argument from Joseph Henrich’s book The Secret of our Success. Slate Star Codex has an excellent book review. Consider the following graph comparing human, chimpanzee and orangutan intelligence. Another interesting quotation from…

Book Review: Overcharged

In the book Overcharged, authors Charles Silver and David Hyman identify a number of problems with the current health care system.  Third party payment under a fee-for-service system means that providers have an incentive to provide more rather than less care.  Further, because the people receiving the services (patients) are not the ones who are footing…

Prohibition

A recently finished reading Prohibition: A Concise History by W.J. Rorabaugh.  The history is interesting throughout and concise indeed at only 133 pages.  Some interesting excerpts include: Whenever a substance is banned two things happen.  First, the price goes up, and second, the product returns in more concentrated form, or a replacement appears.  The high risk…

Why fighting disease is hard

Without a doubt, medicine has made tremendous gains over the last decades and even more progress when viewed across centuries.  Often to treat diseases, physicians and researchers identify a single or primary pathway that is causing the disease.  Maybe there is a gene mutation which causes an abnormality.  Maybe there is a bacteria or virus…

Books to read

Andrew Soloman has an outstanding article the Guardian discussing the intersection of literature and medicine.  He his article about literature on medicine saying saying: Medicine can contribute to literature; narrative practice can strengthen medicine. It behoves writers and doctors to learn each other’s fluencies, because their disparate approaches can add up to singular truths. Of particular…

The cause of drug violence

According to one former police officer, the effect of drugs themselves are not the main cause of violence: …drug users aren’t responsible for violence–high people just want to enjoy their high.  Drug violence is business violence….the largest causes of drug murders are territorial disputes over market share.  If no one will help you defend your property–you can’t trademark…