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February 2002
Vol. 5, No. 2, p 8.
from our readers
August MDD coverA conservative voice
Regarding your editorial entitled “Guilt trip” (August 2001, p 7) in support of stem cell research: What a poor argument from a scientist! Because it’s going to be done anyway, we should allow it? Applying that argument universally would be disastrous. Imagine saying, “Because murders are going to happen anyway, we should legalize them.” Please save this type of editorial for Time, Newsweek, or a fund-raising letter from NOW [the National Organization for Women]. Why do scientists often fall into poor scientific reasoning when they support the liberal side of an argument, which agrees with what the liberal media have accepted and promoted? These same scientists want those with a conservative viewpoint to be able to prove their line of reasoning, and then often they don’t even accept that. Forget that the proposed benefits of stem cell research may be as big a pipedream as cold fusion. Forget that there may be key fundamental problems with using fetal stem cells as opposed to stem cells from adults. You ask us to understand your feelings that you want this or that person cured. Why is it not okay for us to ask you to understand that some of us believe human life begins at conception, and that these fertilized eggs should be handled with utmost respect?

Ken Matuszak
Lindenhurst, IL

Patent procedures online
Michael Felton’s article “The patent machine” (September 2001, p 51) was a good introduction to patents and the management/administrative structure of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Note that a more up-to-date version of the Manual of Patent Examination Procedures is available online at www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/mpep.htm.

Matt Dowd
Washington, DC

Malarial surveillance
In Randall Willis’s article “Bloodsucker rising” (October 2001, p 40), I was astonished to read the statement, “There have been only 60 U.S. [malaria] cases in the last 30 years.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, vol. 50, no. SS-5) report that in 1997, there were 1544 U.S. cases, and in 1998, there were 1227.

Larry S. Roberts

Author’s reply:

The statement cited refers to cases that were not related to people who had traveled to areas where malaria is endemic. Your point is noted, however, that malaria is still a large problem in the United States.

Randall C. Willis

Data points
I enjoy Modern Drug Discovery, and I’m writing to point out that many articles use the word “data” and treat it as a singular noun. It is, of course, plural. The singular is “datum”. For example, in the November 2001 issue, page 23, bottom of the middle column, it says, “The data produced by the site was accurate.”

George Tritsch

Editors’ reply:

The reason you often see “data” as a singular as well as a plural noun is that many scientific publications consider the word to have become legitimate in both capacities. The ACS Style Guide, page 50, flatly states, “‘Data’ can be a singular or plural noun,” and gives the example, “After the data is printed and distributed, we can meet to discuss it. (Refers to the whole collection of data as one unit.)” Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed., has this to say on page 293: “Data leads a life of its own quite independent of datum, of which it was originally the plural.”

We continue to welcome contributions to this page. Letters may sometimes be edited for length, grammar, and spelling.

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