Skepchick Quickies 2.17

  • A cure for the common cold? – The genomes of all 99 strains of rhinovirus have been sequenced but does that help?  From Steve.
  • Dirty, dirty women – A great paraphrasing of Leviticus 12.  From Oskar.
  • US Airways Flight 1549: It Just Doesn’t Add Up – McSweeney’s take on conspiracies over the plane crash in the Hudson River.  From Minnie.
  • Edzard Ernst does it again – Ernst is the editor of a new book, Healing Hype or Harm? A Critical Analysis of Complementary or Alternative Medicine. 
  • Darwin Beer – A brewery in Shrewsbury, England has produced a beer for Darwin’s anniversary.  It’s the second one listed on the page.  From John.


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. The cure for the common cold would be nice. Then I’d know for sure it was only my allergies making my life miserable. Hard to tell the difference sometimes.

  2. There are 722 cold medications authorized for sale in Canada (Health Canada website). Are they worried that producing one that actually works will hurt sales on all the others?

    How come brewers don’t send out free samples like shampoo makers? Who wouldn’t want a can of beer showing up in their mailbox?

  3. Are they kidding? They don’t think people would pay for a common cold cure that actually works? I guess that depends. If it works like the anti-flu meds and is only effective against a few strains (and it’s never the one you actually have, is it?) then yeah, sales might be an issue. But if they can make a version that targets some key area present in all strains… Think about how many employers would be willing to fork over money just to keep a stock of the stuff on hand. What’s that? You’ve got a sniffle? Grab a pill on your way out and we’ll see you back in the office tomorrow!

  4. @JSug: Seriously! I had a killer cold last week, and it caused me to miss a day and a half of work. And I likely got others sick before I realized I was sick! It was horrible — couldn’t breath, fever, sore throat, the works. If there was a pill to cure it? I WOULD HAVE TAKEN IT! And I think most people would agree.

    It may be the “common cold” but it sucks and it can really reek havok on your schedule. I’m still trying to catch up at work!

  5. @JSug: And to add, I’d think that this would be a great thing for the elderly, the very young, and those with compromised immune systems. Getting a cold isn’t “easy” for those people.

  6. Would love to have a pint or two (hand pulled) of Darwin’s Origin. Haven’t many ales from Shropshire (home of some of my ancestors.)

  7. @Expatria and Question Authority: I always thoroughly enjoy your postings here, so I’m not surprised we all agree on the McSweeney’s piece (which I submitted). Interesting that you were both consuming something when you read it…a little TOO interesting if you ask me.

  8. I work with several people with compromised immune systems, I’m sure they’d all appreciate that drug. I would, too, as I don’t want to be the one that gives the cold that opens up the way for the opportunistic infection that makes a coworker or two gravely ill.

    And the Leviticus bit just made me think “haha… I like dirty girls.”

  9. @Minnie: I frequently take a look at Skepchick during my lunch break as a brief whiff of sanity in an otherwise bureaucratic and insane work day.
    Since I work on an Army base where the computers are monitored, I wonder what they think about me…I’ll probably never get a clearance now!

  10. While a ‘cold cure’ would be nice, I suspect people will piss away any benefits like we have with antibiotics. Overprescription, half-assed courses, incorrect dosage, etc.

    We see this in action with the array of expensive anti-virals used to combat AIDS as the virus adapts. Imagine what it would be like if anyone could grab a anti cold pill from the chemist.

    I would give the pill about 3 weeks of usefulness before it became useless.

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