How we can create equity for all communities?
Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.
Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.
Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)
This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.
To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.
This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.
After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”
“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”
Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).
As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.
Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.
“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”
"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/
The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.
'This night will go under my pillow of sweet dreams for the rest of my life.'
The live two-hour premiere episode of the star-studded 31st season of “Dancing With the Stars” was an emotional one, to say the least, as actress Selma Blair took to the stage.
Four years ago, Blair publicly announced her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis—a chronic disease that causes many different symptoms, including vision loss, pain, fatigue and impaired coordination.
It was clear that entering the competition was more than a chance to win a title for Blair. In an interview with ET Canada, the “Cruel Intentions” actress shared that “I hope that by doing this show that I could show people with disabilities the joy that can be found in ways you never expected.”
Blair definitely succeeded with that goal. She and pro dance partner Sasha Farber earned third place and brought the audience to tears with an elegant, moving waltz routine set to David Cook's "The Time of My Life."
Blair posted a shorter clip of the dance onto her Instagram, writing in the caption that "This night will go under my pillow of sweet dreams for the rest of my life.”Blair, who normally walks with a cane, was most concerned with keeping her balance during the performance. But relying on Farber was a welcome relief. “I have been a single mom. I've always loved supporting people, and then to have so many people support me, heaven," she told "Access Hollywood".
She added that the opportunity to dance came at a time when recovery had stalled. “I just couldn't get motivated to get stronger. Then this came and for the first time in my life I was like, 'Yeah, it makes sense…' I want to start learning how to build myself up again," she shared. Because of her work with Farber, the “Legally Blonde” actress is getting stronger each day, something that gives her immense pride.
Blair’s comeback is certainly inspiring—it takes immeasurable amounts of grace to move through all of life's challenges and still remain hopeful. Whether or not she makes it all the way through the competition, she has already won something much more profound by proving what’s possible.
This article originally appeared on 01.22.21
Having lived in small towns and large cities in the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, and Midwest, and after spending a year traveling around the U.S. with my family, I've seen first-hand that Americans have much more in common than not. I've also gotten to experience some of the cultural differences, subtle and not-so-subtle, real and not-so-real, that exist in various parts of the country.
Some of those differences are being discussed in a viral thread on Twitter. Self-described "West coaster" Jordan Green kicked it off with an observation about East coasters being kind and West coasters being nice, which then prompted people to share their own social experiences in various regions around the country.
Niceness is saying "I'm so sorry you're cold," while kindness may be "Ugh, you've said that five times, here's a sw… https://t.co/HjUDcAr9v9— Jordan K. Green (@Jordan K. Green) 1611263478
"When I describe East Coast vs West Coast culture to my friends I often say 'The East Coast is kind but not nice, the West Coast is nice but not kind,' and East Coasters immediately get it. West Coasters get mad.
Niceness is saying 'I'm so sorry you're cold,' while kindness may be 'Ugh, you've said that five times, here's a sweater!' Kindness is addressing the need, regardless of tone.
I'm a West Coaster through and through—born and raised in San Francisco, moved to Portland for college, and now live in Seattle. We're nice, but we're not kind. We'll listen to your rant politely, smile, and then never speak to you again. We hit mute in real life. ALOT.
So often, we West Coasters think that showing *sympathy* or feeling *empathy* is an act of kindness. Sadly, it's really just a nice act. Kindness is making sure the baby has a hat. (s/o to breenewsome and BlackAmazon)
When you translate this to institutions or policy, you'll see alot of nice words being used, & West Coast liberals/radicals are really good at *sounding* nice. But I've seen organizers & activists from other places get frustrated because nothing happens after ALOT of talk.
When you translate this to institutions or policy, you'll see alot of nice words being used, & West Coast liberals/… https://t.co/lfjUVV3N1M— Jordan K. Green (@Jordan K. Green) 1611263479
Nothing happens after the pronoun check-ins and the icebreakers. It's rare we make sure that people's immediate needs are addressed. There's no kindness. You have people show up to meetings hungry, or needing rides home, and watching those with means freeze when asked to help.
As we begin to 'get back a sense of normalcy' or 're-calibrate' to what people in Blue States™ think is Right™ and Just™, I want us to keep in mind the difference between Niceness and Kindness. If something sounds nice, doesn't mean that it's kind."
Of course, there are genuinely kind and surface nice people everywhere you go, so no one should take these observations as a personal affront to them individually. Generalizations that lead to stereotypes are inherently problematic, and broad strokes like "East coast" and "West coast" are also somewhat meaningless, so they should taken with a grain of salt as well.
In reality, a small town in South Carolina is probably more culturally similar to a small town in Eastern Oregon than it is to New York City, and there are some strong differences between various subregions as well. A more specific cultural comparison, such as "big cities on the West coast vs. big cities in the Northeast" might be more accurate as far as generalizations go, but regardless, many people related to Green's observations based on their own experiences.
To kick things off, a slew of responses poured in from people describing how New Yorkers can be cold on the surface while simultaneously reaching out their hand to help you.
@SikePiazza @jordonaut Stand at a flight of stairs in the NYC subway with a stroller. Someone will grab the other e… https://t.co/SJw7v44JNO— Mr. Whipple (@Mr. Whipple) 1611280265
Several people explained that the hustle required to afford the expense of living in New York explains why people skip the niceties. It's about valuing people's time; wasting it with nice words is ruder than just quickly helping out and then moving on.
@mcgowankat @MikeDeAngelo @SikePiazza @jordonaut Yeah, this is the kind of thing people who have't spent time in NY… https://t.co/BBYMUJM2n6— Alex Pagliuca (@Alex Pagliuca) 1611295143
@jordonaut In the South, politeness takes the form of "I will talk to you and inquire as to your day; I will give m… https://t.co/SQIZ6l6m1d— Ray Radlein (@Ray Radlein) 1611296276
Many people chimed in with agreement with the original post (even some Canadians confirming that their East/West differences aligned with ours).
@candaceforpdx @jordonaut I used to travel to the West Coast a lot for work. Everyone was “nice,” but they had no s… https://t.co/XCL1ctXPqw— celeste (@celeste) 1611330244
"No sense of urgency" is definitely a West coast vibe, but is generally viewed a positive out here. And "inconveniencing everyone around them" might be a subjective observation. Maybe.
Plenty of people with bicoastal experience weighed in with their stories of how their experiences lined up with the basic premise of the thread, though.
@jordonaut I am blunt, I cuss, I call shit like I see it, and if you need it I'll give you the shirt off my back, a… https://t.co/e65qSQmZgZ— Spider (@Spider) 1611294712
@KLDoorC @jordonaut This. I’m from Pgh and talking to my friend in Seattle.. She lives by herself and needed some… https://t.co/goTpXS6iEU— Erin (@Erin) 1611327055
Though certainly not universally true, the tendency for West coasters to be more hands-off might extend back to the frontier days. The pioneer and gold rush mindset was necessarily individualistic and self-sufficient. In my experience, West coasters assume you don't need help unless you directly ask for it. But people don't ask because of the individualistic and self-sufficient thing, so automatic helpfulness just hasn't become part of the dominant culture.
Things got even more interesting once the South and Midwest entered the chat.
@jamieleefinch @jordonaut @yumcoconutmilk Moving from the Midwest to the south my experience tells me this is true.… https://t.co/poN4yvEDzo— Schotz (@Schotz) 1611320818
But the takes on warm/nice/kind thing varied quite a bit.
@jamieleefinch @jordonaut @yumcoconutmilk Midwest is warm/kind of you are or LOOK like you’re “from around here.”… https://t.co/7HLvTO391a— Kate Pardon (@Kate Pardon) 1611330070
@alexschiff @zsr5 @jordonaut I moved to Michigan after spending my whole life on the East Coast. It took me MONTHS… https://t.co/fosthutYdJ— Ellen Gelerman (@Ellen Gelerman) 1611320299
One thing that seems quite clear if you read through the various responses to the thread is that specific states and cities seem to have their own cultures that don't break down as simply as East/West/Midwest/South. There's an entire book about how the U.S. can actually be subdivided into 11 different regions that are almost like nations unto themselves. Even this map from 1940 included 34 different cultural regions in the U.S.
Cultural Regions in the United States, 1940. https://t.co/RGGBgP5OzO https://t.co/GQVz5VkjVH— OnlMaps (@OnlMaps) 1601417553
And don't even get a Californian started on the differences between Northern CA, Southern CA, and the Central Valley. "Culture" can even be narrowed down even to specific neighborhoods, and people's experiences and perceptions vary for all kinds of reasons, so once again, generalizations only go so far before they fall flat.
If you're curious about what the data says about all of this, a cursory search of surveys about which states are the kindest brings up a fairly mixed bag, but people seem to find Minnesota quite friendly. A Wallethub ranking of charitability by state based on 19 factors including volunteerism also placed Minnesota at number one, followed by Utah, Maryland, Oregon, and Ohio. Pretty hard to make a regional generalization with those states.
Then again, there's the whole "Minnesota nice" thing, which brings us full circle back to the original thread.
@SejalShahWrites I'm from Minnesota, where we have a whole theme of how "Minnesota Nice" means only on the surface.— Kristin Boldon (@Kristin Boldon) 1611284271
So many elements go into the culture of a place, from population density to the history of settlement to the individual personalities of the people who make someplace their home. And nothing is set in stone—the atmosphere of a place can change over time, as anyone who's visited a city a decade or two apart can attest.
One thing that's true, no matter where we live, is that we play a role in molding the culture of our immediate surroundings. If we want where we live to be friendlier, we can be friendlier ourselves. If we want to see people help one another, we can serve as that example. We might stand out, but we also might inspire others who yearn for the same thing.
"Be the change" might seem a bit cliche, but it truly is the key to shifting or world in the way we want it to go, no matter what part of the country—or the world—we live in.
This article originally appeared on 03.29.21
One of the biggest problems with coffee production is that it generates an incredible amount of waste. Once coffee beans are separated from cherries, about 45% of the entire biomass is discarded.
So for every pound of roasted coffee we enjoy, an equivalent amount of coffee pulp is discarded into massive landfills across the globe. That means that approximately 10 million tons of coffee pulp is discarded into the environment every year.
When disposed of improperly, the waste can cause serious damage soil and water sources.
However, a new study published in the British Ecological Society journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence has found that coffee pulp isn't just a nuisance to be discarded. It can have an incredibly positive impact on regrowing deforested areas of the planet.
In 2018, researchers from ETH-Zurich and the University of Hawaii spread 30 dump trucks worth of coffee pulp over a roughly 100' x 130' area of degraded land in Costa Rica. The experiment took place on a former coffee farm that underwent rapid deforestation in the 1950s.
The coffee pulp was spread three-feet thick over the entire area.
Another plot of land near the coffee pulp dump was left alone to act as a control for the experiment.
"The results were dramatic." Dr. Rebecca Cole, lead author of the study, said. "The area treated with a thick layer of coffee pulp turned into a small forest in only two years while the control plot remained dominated by non-native pasture grasses."
In just two years, the area treated with coffee pulp had an 80% canopy cover, compared to just 20% of the control area. So, the coffee-pulp-treated area grew four times more rapidly. Like a jolt of caffeine, it reinvigorated biological activity in the area.
The canopy was also four times taller than that of the control.
The coffee-treated area also eliminated an invasive species of grass that took over the land and prevented forest succession. Its elimination allowed for other native species to take over and recolonize the area.
"This case study suggests that agricultural by-products can be used to speed up forest recovery on degraded tropical lands. In situations where processing these by-products incurs a cost to agricultural industries, using them for restoration to meet global reforestation objectives can represent a 'win-win' scenario," Dr. Cole said.
If the results are repeatable it's a win-win for coffee drinkers and the environment.
Researchers believe that coffee treatments can be a cost-effective way to reforest degraded land. They may also work to reverse the effects of climate change by supporting the growth of forests across the globe.
The 2016 Paris Agreement made reforestation an important part of the fight against climate change. The agreement incentivizes developing countries to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, promote forest conservation and sustainable management, and enhance forest carbon stocks in developing countries.
"We hope our study is a jumping off point for other researchers and industries to take a look at how they might make their production more efficient by creating links to the global restoration movement," Dr. Cole said.