The Sock Drawer Probabilities, likelihoods, odds ratios, etc. All of these things are important when deciding on public health and medical interventions. In light of this, we present you with our first probability puzzler.
You have a sock drawer with red socks and white socks. You want the probability of drawing two red socks, in the dark, to be 1/2. What is the minimum number of white and red socks in the drawer such that the probability is 0.50?
No cheating. Show your work and explain. Winner gets to pick the next 60s dish.
We promise not to forget you. When we first met you, on black and white TV, 70 must have seemed as far as Pluto. Now it seems too soon. When you asked “Dimmi Quando,” who’da thunk the answer would be so soon and in this manner. Thanks for everything, from the beach parties to your inspiring Gilda Radner.
We didn’t want to do it. Really, we didn’t. Also tried to resist cell phones, text messaging for anything other than semi-urgent to urgent notifications. We are not Luddites–we like ABS, read eBooks, love PubMed searches, but competing with Jessica Simpson, Katy Perry and Pitbull? Maybe I’m selling them short. Maybe they understand zoonosis and ID, and I’m just being a green-eyed snob.
IN SPITE OF WHAT YOU MAY HAVE READ IN MY FAVORITE NEWSPAPER (the NY Times):
Chagas’ Disease, while being a medical nightmare, is not the new AIDS.
The first, and perhaps biggest problem with this article is calling Chagas’ Disease the “new” anything. Chagas’ disease was discovered in 1909 by a brilliant Brazilian scientist, Carlos Chagas. Chagas’ discovery was justly recognized for this great discovery during his own lifetime.
Chagas’ disease is like AIDS, in that it targets certain populations, but that is where the similarity stops. Chagas’ disease is spread by a vector (bugs of the family Reduviidae) that is exquisitely evolved to infect the poor, as it is related to low-quality housing. AIDS does target the poor of the world more than the rich, but there are certain groups that AIDS targeted, or continues to target, that have nothing to do with economic standing. AIDS is not transmitted by arthropod vectors (though there was concern in the early years of the pandemic), but by sexual contact and contaminated transfusions and medical equipment. Chagas’ disease can be spread by transfusion, but this risk is decreasing. As of a few years ago,around two decades after the blood supply began being screened for HIV, the blood supply in the US began being screened for Chagas’ disease.
Chagas’ disease is called a Neglected Tropical Disease. These are diseases that have high prevalence in the hotter regions of the globe, affect a large number of people but yet do not get a lot of attention from the press, their governments, NGOs, and even much of the local population. For example, many residents of Lima (where the power is) don’t even know what Chagas’ disease is, even though it afflicts a large number of Peruvians. Why? It doesn’t occur in Lima, and public education about the disease does not extend to those who won’t get it, even though they may be the ones most able to help.
Stigma: Yes, it sucks to get AIDS or Chagas’ or both together. But tell me from your heart of hearts: Which would you rather tell your co-workers and parents–that you’ve contracted HIV or that you’ve contracted Chagas’. I’m betting on Chagas’. 30 years into the epidemic, and HIV/AIDS still carries a burden unmatched by any other disease.
Research funding: No comparison. HIV/AIDS has been a research juggernaut over much of the pandemic. As a result, we’ve made brilliant and amazing progress in treatment and prevention of the disease. Chagas’ disease is still treated by the same two lousy drugs that were used over a decade ago. Some research is being done on new treatments, but I you’d be embarrassed to see the shoestring some of those labs run on. Moreover, most of these studies involve using drugs that were already approved for other indications, such as anti-fungals and anti-malarials.(They ain’t much money to make sellin’ drugs to po’ folk in the developin’ world.)
They were the sort of people who discussed the price of things at cocktails, exchanged market tips during dinner, and after dinner told dirty stories to mixed company. They did not belong to Neddy’s set—they were not even on Lucinda’s Christmas-card list. He went toward their pool with feelings of indifference, charity, and some unease, since it seemed to be getting dark and these were the longest days of the year. The party when he joined it was noisy and large. Grace Biswanger was the kind of hostess who asked the optometrist, the veterinarian, the real-estate dealer, and the dentist.
An Online Journal of Chagas’ Disease, Rabies, Beverages from South America, Dishes from the Sixties, and Other Public Health Issues
If you wish to read the Chagas' Disease primer in order, click here to go to Part 1 and follow the links.
We do not wish to diminish the importance of Chagas' disease, or make it seem that we are equating its significance with that of Pisco Sours or Inca Kola--we realize, alas, that for the most part only geeks and do-gooders are interested in diseases like Chagas'. We are hoping that by including matters of interest to the general public that we may attract more readers.
Richard Lerner is the author of this blog. All complaints should be sent to anyone other than him. We are looking for other writers interested in vector-borne disease, or timely information on the fight against these conditions, especially in the Americas.