Alan Jones And Dying of Pain

Alan Jones no doubt feels entirely vindicated in his warning about international students being behind the Boston bombings. After all, the alleged perpetrators appear are from overseas, and they did study in America, even if from Jones’ perspective they lack the trifecta by not being conveniently dark skinned.

Now there’s not much need to add to the condemnation of Jones’ statements – you can find plenty of stirling efforts if you search the web. However, something struck me today. The primary researchers for two of the stories I did have very Middle Eastern sounding names. One surname is definitely Arabic, and while I can’t identify the other I am guessing Iranian.

One of them is a postgrad student, the other may well have come here as one, although of course it is also possible both were born here. It shouldn’t matter, but because of bigots like Jones it does.

One of them has shown the efficiency of a folk remedy* not only for irritable bowel disease, but for one of the most serious effects of chemotherapy. The other has found a more effective way to fight breast cancer in mice, which may well be transferable to humans.

There was a bitter irony in hearing from the TV in the next room that Chrissie Amphlett had died of breast cancer while trying to write the latter story up.

One shouldn’t get too excited about these. I probably do an article a fortnight on progress in research on one form of cancer or another. Most never come to anything. Moreover, the cancer research was directed at one specific form of breast cancer, responsible for about 12% of cases. However, being particularly hard to treat it accounts for a larger number of deaths.

I’m not convinced Alan Jones would see much value in research that largely benefits women, but even he might see how much it would mean to chemotherapy patients to be spared some of the misery that can involve. Whether it makes it easier to fight ones way through life saving treatment or allows someone to die with a little more dignity anything that reduces the trauma of these necessary but horrible drugs would surely be welcomed by all.

Yet these are the people he wants us to turn away.

*BTW, the folk remedy in this case is emu oil, which was an aboriginal cure for skin wounds, but turns out to be effective at protecting the intestine walls from damage. What could be more Australian than that.

About Stephen Luntz

I am a science journalist, specialising in Australian and New Zealand research across all fields of science. My book, Forensics, Fossils and Fruitbats: A Field Guide to Australian Scientists is out now through CSIRO Publishing. I am also a professional returning officer for non-government organisations. I'm very politically active, but generally try to restrict this blog to scientific matters.
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