Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Search Challenge (4/13/16): How well do medical results stand the test of time?

What we know changes over time...

... and in particular, some areas of knowledge change significantly over time.  This is a good thing--it tells us that we're learning more about how the world works.

Medical knowledge, in particular, is often subject to a dizzying shift in perspective with time.  What's recognized as true in one era might easily be overturned just a few years later.  

To get a sense of this, let's take a look at a few pieces of medical knowledge that were once-upon-a-time widely accepted.   
(I should say that I'm not picking on Medicine as a field--it's just a nice illustration of how much our knowledge of the world shifts over time.  You could ask these same questions of physics, or chemistry, or biology.  Medicine is a bit simpler to study for SearchResearch purposes.) 

As you know, the Nobel Prize is awarded annually for outstanding contributions in a number of areas, including Medicine.

So I'm curious:  how many of the results that have been rewarded with a Nobel Prize in Medicine can withstand the test of time?  

Your Challenge for this week:  

1.  If we look at the Nobel Prizes awarded in the field of Medicine in the 1920s, how many of those highly acclaimed results from the 20s are still believed to be true?   

This sounds like a crazy hard Challenge, but it's simpler (and more surprising!) than you think.  

As often happens with these Challenges, the subject matter may seem intimidating, but when you look at it in a little detail, it's fascinating.  

I hope you have as much fun with this Challenge as I did.  There's great joy to be had in just looking this stuff up! 

Stay curious, my friends.  

Search on. 

P.S.  I'm on a plane again today; will try to get to the second part of
last week's Challenge somewhere over Kansas... 


  1. Good day, Dr. Russell and everyone.

    [list of Nobel prize winners Medicine]

    Physiology or medicine was the third prize area Alfred Nobel mentioned in his will laying out his wishes for the Nobel Prize. 1921 and 1925 no winners. Reading winners: 1923, insulin is still good. 1930 blood groups still good.

    [Nobel prize Medicine winners still valid] in Google Books

    100 Years of Nobel Prizes By Baruch A. Shalev Very interesting data. I noticed mexico in the list has 2 winners but I remember Mario Molina. Therefore,

    [Mexico Nobel prize winners]

    And after reading, returned to the book and searched [Mexico] there I found that Mario Molina award is credited to USA.

    Alfonso García Robles - Facts...He was lauded as "Mr. Disarmament".

    [Nobel prize Medicine winners changes over time]

    June is the most frequent birth month for physiology and medicine Laureates

    [Nobel prize Medicine winners proved wrong

    The prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded at least twice for the development of psychiatric treatments that are now regarded as primitive or worse Source looks informed and trusted (Caltech and Harvard in Alejandro Jenkins credentials.

    [Élie Metchnikoff yogurt nobel prize] Not subject of Challenge but interesting.

    Recycling Metchnikoff: Probiotics, the Intestinal Microbiome and the Quest for Long Life


    1. If we look at the Nobel Prizes awarded in the field of Medicine in the 1920s, how many of those highly acclaimed results from the 20s are still believed to be true?

    Not passed time test:
    1* 1927 Wagner-Jauregg, mental disease treatment not longer in use (from Wikipedia)

    2* Johannes Fibiger (1926)for purportedly identifying a parasite that caused cancer in mice and rats...scientists concluded that the roundworm was not directly responsible for the appearance of cancer...

    3* António Egas Moniz, but he won in 1940 for lobotomy so not part of the 20's

  2. I am stymied so I patter & meander…

    flirting with heresy… are you suggesting our views of –– say of climate change or humankind may/could/will be significantly different in 100± years? codifus un perpetuitas
    We may need a new Goya to chronicle such postulations…
    Prince Don Luis Maria de Borbon y Vallabriga
    …but I still believe in Dynamite…
    in the U.S. – Dyno Nobel Inc

    "The streets were dark with something more than night." RTC
    …is there a book in the offing, Dan? "The Search for Search, Somewhere Over Kansas"… working title‽‽ or "Where's Toto's Data"
    "That’s why Nobel Prizes are usually awarded long after the original discovery. It takes time for the medical implications to become clear."
    "Dr. Greider shared her prize with Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Jack W. Szostak for their research on telomeres."

    time is a factor in committee selections - especially in Physiology or Medicine
    wading in a pond - a different sort of portrait
    for Dr. Greider
    is there a Nobel for Visual Cognition?
    Telomeres SERP
    there's a toll-free Telomeres line: 888.360.8886
    list: 1921 & 25 seem notable
    Al did ok in '21 though…
    on fb

    from the 1923 winner - Diabeteshunden!
    who knew? Nobel gaming…

    things off topic…
    Ramón, sup with Popo?
    (did RM ever return from MX?)
    the door @ Google
     door
    I don't understand it, but it will be huge - virtual Nobel
    for fun, Google Volocopter… put a deposit down on it or the Model 3?

    1. Hello Remmij! Glad you posting again. I just saw this one so need to read your links. About RM, I think so but who knows why she is not posting.

      This morning, tried to find new information and used many words like timely, timeless, time validation, still current. With all that, found these:

      Ig Nobel Prizes The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that make people LAUGH, and then THINK. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.


      Dr. Russell, about the Second Part Answer, you mentioned: "I opened a Terminal on my Mac." I'll try to find someway to run in Windows do you have some suggestion?

    2. If you do a search for [ Linux on Windows ] you can find a lot of methods to run Linux on Windows boxes. See:

      When I was on Windows, I used Cygwin. That seemed to work.

    3. Thanks, Dr. Russell

      As you mentioned Text Editor again in the Second Part of last week Challenge, I think is good to bring back this video of yours. Editing datafile into CSV

  3. I initially read the question as SINCE the 1920s and not JUST the 20s, so my search strategy changed. At first, I just searched for [nobel prize medicine refuted] which gave me hit from Quora ( These gave me incidents from all Nobel Prizes in Medicine and Physiology. Of course, since Quora isn't exactly authoritative, I was going to create a list of all the suggestions given and then search individually.

    HOWEVER, once I realized you just wanted recipients from the 20s, I rethought my strategy. I could just search for winners from the 20s (easy enough, and just research each winner to see if they have stood the test of time. This is made easier as twice, the prize was not awarded, leaving me with only 8 years to research. I could also cross reference the answers given on Quora and search those from the 20s. Oh, I also found a Wiki article on Nobel Prize controversies, which listed two from the 20s.

    Looking between Quora and Wiki, two suspects stand out:

    Johannes Andreas Grib Fibiger in 1926 for "his discovery of the Spiroptera carcinoma."

    Julius Wagner-Jauregg in 1927 for "his discovery of the therapeutic value of malaria inoculation in the treatment of dementia paralytica."

    Looking deeper into these gentlemen was interesting.

    Fibiger claimed to find the cell that caused cancer in rats and mice. It was later proven to not be the case and that Katsusaburo Yamagiwa has done similar work but with proven results. Oddly enough, Fibiger died of colon cancer.

    Wagner-Jauregg developed a process for treating syphilis by means of injecting the patient with malaria. It was believed that the heat/fever was the most effective way to treat this untreated condition at the time. It was known as a form of pyrotherapy. It is no longer used and I have to believe the 15% mortality rate is partly to blame.

    The most interesting aspect of this search is that I could not find any mention of these facts on the official Nobel Prize page. Is this a case of not wanting to accept change? Or that they may have made a mistake in awarding the prize?

    I saw that Ramon mentioned Moniz and lobotomies. As he mentioned, that was during the 40s and do not meet the criteria BUT I found it interesting to learn that lobotomies ARE still used as a sort of last ditch resort and not totally discredited. I'm sure Rosemary Kennedy might have an issue with this.

  4. [list of nobel prize winners in medicine 1920-1930] finds this very useful page

    The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine: Laureates 1920 - 1930 / 1921 and 1925 no prize

    1930 Karl Landsteiner - "for discovery of human blood types"
    1929 Christiaan Eijkman, Sir Frederick Hopkins - "for discovery of various vitamins"
    1928 Charles Nicolle - "for work on typhus"
    1927 Julius Wagner-Jauregg - "for healing general paralysis by infection with malaria"
    1926 Johannes Fibiger - "for elucidating Spiroptera carcinoma and artificially inducing cancer in an animal."

    1924 Willem Einthoven - "for the discovery of the mechanism of the electrocardiogram"
    1923 Frederick G. Banting, John Macleod - "for the discovery of insulin"
    1922 Archibald V. Hill, Otto Meyerhof - "for research on muscles, especially their generation of heat and the relationship between oxygen consumption and lactic acid metabolism "

    1920 August Krogh - "for showing that the gas exchange in the lungs is ordinary diffusion"

    Using one disease to combat another does not seem so outlandish, so unenlightened, in this light.

    Pyrotherapy also led to breakthroughs in the biological study of malaria, its mode of transmission, and treatment (2). Fever therapy revolutionized the study of malaria and mosquitoes,

    Our current knowledge of malaria and mosquitoes would be incomplete without this strange chapter in the annals of medical history. Regardless of its obsolete status today, pyrotherapy changed, in its own small way, the practice of infectious disease, psychiatry, and entomology.

    Alexander Fleming’s auspicious discovery of penicillin during World War II put an abrupt end to both malaria therapy and to advanced cases of syphilis, pressing a pause button on all bacterial diseases for a brief, blissful period

    AN EMINENT Austrian scientist who specialised in genetics and won the Nobel prize for his work on malaria has been revealed as an exponent of racial purity who advocated the forced sterilisation for people regarded as genetically impure.

    The discovery that Julius Wagner-Jauregg was a member of the Nazi party and backed Hitler’s ideas about racial purity

    So far, all but one, 1927, are valid. Will look further into this fascinatin' Challenge

  5. while we are in the waiting room, as the diagnosis is formulated…
    in the meantime, a Dickens link
    portraits from the future
    exclusive for sRs
    the future… when the future isn't enough…
    virtual enhanced reality