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Issue 468, 4 June 2001

Using the correct terms

Andrew J. Baczkowski
Department of Statistics

In his reply to my earlier letter, Professor Hoyle (Reporter 466) errs in claiming ultrasound is ‘used only where there is an indicated diagnostic benefit’. Whilst I am happy to support therapeutic uses of ultrasound, I would argue that the routine use of ultrasonography in obstetrics is unnecessary, limited in its effectiveness, and with potential risks.

I am aware that many scientific studies claim no adverse effects for antenatal ultrasonography — indeed this viewpoint could be described as the current dominant scientific paradigm — and yet, as I hinted in my original letter, there are many other studies which would suggest caution.

It is for this reason that I dislike use of the terms ‘non-invasive’ and ‘non-radiative’. They are used to suggest ‘harmless’. If ‘non-ionising’ is what is meant by ‘non-radiative’ then say so plainly! As for ‘non-invasive’, that could be used to describe high energy gamma rays!

See reply from Dr Malcolm Povey, Procter Department of Food Science

Online trip down memory lane

Ken Davies
Director of the Economist Intelligence Unit
Hong Kong.

I have just found your web exhibition, May-June 1968, which describes the events that took place at that time in the University of Leeds, events in which I was myself involved. I can confirm much of what you say in your interpretation of events, particularly concerning the role of the present Home Secretary. Thank you very much for assembling this information and presenting it so clearly and accessibly.

I note that, like the best historians, you presented original source material and confined yourself to a minimum of descriptive text. I note that you used the relevant sections of Union News, which was already at that time a national prizewinner for its journalistic standards, if my memory serves me correctly.

Apologies to ...

... Dr Haiko Muller to whom a letter entitled Smoking ban from big brother was wrongly attributed in Reporter 465. All letters sent to the Reporter should include the writer’s name and department or address, though in certain circumstances names can be withheld from publication.

... Dr Roger Clark, who was mistakenly elevated to the position of head of earth sciences in Reporter 467. He told the Reporter that while he surmises the actual head, Professor Bruce Yardley, might be happy to hand over some of the administration, he’d rather remain where he is — somewhere closer to the foot or the knee!

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