How doctors really decide who lives and who dies

Should doctors allow their expertise to trump patient's personal goals — or should they yield to it?

  • Our health care system right now prizes efficiency, rather than embedding an ethics committee throughout a patient's treatment.
  • The challenge of being a medical ethicist is bringing "airy" concepts into clinical practice.
  • Sometimes the solutions to ethical issues become established via legal precedent.
Videos

Study explains exactly why captivity is bad for orcas

A comprehensive interdisciplinary paper removes any doubt that orcas don't belong in marine parks and zoos.

Image source: ullstein bild/Getty
  • Researchers present a detailed catalogue of the hardships captive orcas face and the damage done to them.
  • The study draws parallels between known human chronic stresses and entertainment and research facility conditions.
  • The evidence offers a damning response to perplexed apologies offered by proprietors of such parks, aquariums, and zoos when an orca dies.
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Surprising Science

Gene-edited babies may live shorter lives, analysis finds

Chinese scientist He Jiankui edited the genes of two babies to be resistant to HIV, provoking outrage. Now, a new genetic analysis shows why this was reckless.

Flickr user NIAID
  • The gene-editing technique CRISPR offers major benefits to humanity, but scientists don't believe the field is mature enough for widespread editing.
  • For this reason, when Chinese scientist He Jiankui edited the genes of two babies to be resistant to HIV, his work provoked outrage.
  • A new study of 400,000 genetic profiles reveals that He's genetic editing did indeed have an unintended consequence.
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Surprising Science

Like the emperor’s new clothes, DNA kits are a tailored illusion

A DNA test promises to reveal your hidden history — but is it all smoke and mirrors?

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images

Most people remember the emperor: a vain ruler, swindled into paying for a nonexistent magical garment, parades in public, only to be embarrassed by a little boy. To me, the story is really about the swindling tailors.

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Surprising Science

Tinnitus and the deafening problem of noise pollution

Hearing-related problems are on the rise.

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
  • Noise pollution should be considered a public-health crisis, according to experts that study the problem.
  • Between 15-20 percent of humans will suffer from tinnitus during their lives.
  • Carbon is not the only catalyst for environmental degradation; entire ecosystems are being destroyed by noise.
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