Physics quiz: What is Stephen Hawking’s nationality?

(a) United States
(b) United Kingdom
(c) Manchester United
(d) United Arab Emirates

You have 2 minutes.

{Cue Jeopardy thinking jingle}

The answer is B! Author and theoretical physicist Hawking was born in Oxford, England, 67 years ago and is currently the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, which at last report was still located where it has been for the last 800 years, in England.

Reading comprehension quiz:
Now read this excerpt from a recent (fubar) editorial from the Investor’s Business Daily, and identify the logical fallacy. You have 5 minutes.

The U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) basically figures out who deserves treatment by using a cost-utility analysis based on the "quality adjusted life year."

One year in perfect health gets you one point. Deductions are taken for blindness, for being in a wheelchair and so on.

The more points you have, the more your life is considered worth saving, and the likelier you are to get care.

People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.

Discuss your answers among yourselves for the remainder of class.

Words fail me.

[ADDENDUM: IBD has since corrected its error, by deleting the graf mentioning Hawking.]

[ADDENDUM 2: The Guardian‘s Hugh Muir asked Hawking about UK’s National Health System, the one that the IBD says would have left Hawking to die decades ago. Hawking’s reply was

“I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the NHS,” he told us. “I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived.”

Muir should have gone to say that, if Hawking were a US citizen covered by a private health insurance, he would still be shelling out tens of thousands of dollars annually for the specialized, ongoing care needed for his motor neuron disease.

Don’t believe everything anything the Republicans say about health care reform.

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