Subject: Re: Examples needed against Soft Patents
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2004 13:41:04 +0900

>>>>> "Taran" == Taran Rampersad <> writes:

    Taran> Doctors presently use statistics for everything - an
    Taran> example being an aspirin a day reduces the risk of heart
    Taran> attack.

    Taran>  And yet, the Human Genome Project has shown that this only
    Taran> works on every 1 out of 300.

That's impossible.  That statement assumes we know how the human body
works, which simply ain't true.  If that statement has any meaning, it
must be something like "according to the HGP only one human of 300 has
one of the genes believed to be linked to a negative relationship
between aspirin consumption and heart attack risk."

    Taran> We're not living in a world where statistics are as
    Taran> worthwhile anymore.

Nonsense.  They become all the more important.  Even your alleged
counterexample is phrased in statistical form.  Simple averages, maybe
not, and I'll admit that the typical medical researcher up to the
mid-1980s didn't even know the meaning of "standard error".  However,
biostatistics today is extremely sophisticated and the sophisticated
variety is actually being used at the practitioner level (to some
extent)---but don't believe me, ask Karsten, who's worked in that

    Taran> And in the medical community, I see potential for 'Open
    Taran> Medicine' in that doctors around the world can study the
    Taran> latest things that have worked - and have not.

No, they can't.  "Too many latest things, too little time."  Doctors
in the rich countries have been dependent on "portals" (aka large
pharmaceutical firms) since I was born (before JFK was elected).

"Around the world", the latest things typically do not matter, period.
Doctors in Africa need antimalarials before they need anti-AIDS drugs,
even, but nobody's working on that---the latest knowledge there has
been available for decades as far as I know (that's a mid-1990s or so
UN World Development Project report).  Even when you get to anti-AIDS
drugs, they don't need the latest cocktails that are wonderful for San
Francisco lawyers who are otherwise in good health; they need
something that ameliorates the condition of Nigerian truck drivers who
are already showing symptoms of opportunistic infections and have
three other active STD infections besides.

Taran, you of all the active posters to this list should understand

    Taran> Steve McConnell has a good point as well - but that same
    Taran> point works *for* Open Medicine instead of against
    Taran> it. Until it's legal to impersonate a doctor, that point
    Taran> stays.

I don't understand this statement.  I understand you're equating
doctors to the level of expertise of the internal reviewers that
McConnell contrasts with the "many eyes", but I don't see where the
argument goes from there.

Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences
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