July 17, 2005

The Art Of Eating One's Words :)

A few weeks back i re-published an obituary, of someone whom i thought was a hero. Since the source was The Economist, there was no need, i felt, to check the veracity!.

Alas, it seems even Economist was fooled. Naki was a nice even brilliant guy whom apartheid broke. But he was not the person who removed the donor's heart during world's first heart transplant.


ON JUNE 11th this year, The Economist published an obituary of Hamilton Naki, a black medical researcher at the University of Cape Town. In that obituary, we described Mr Naki assisting in the first human heart transplant by removing the heart from the donor, Denise Darvall. Our account was drawn directly from Mr Naki's own words in interviews.

We have since been assured by surgeons at Groote Schuur, the hospital where the transplant was performed, that Mr Naki was nowhere near the operating theatre. As a black, and as a person with no formal medical qualifications, he was not allowed to be. The surgeons who removed the donor's heart were Marius Barnard, Christiaan Barnard's brother, and Terry O'Donovan. A source close to Mr Naki once asked him where he was when he first heard about the transplant. He replied that he had heard of it on the radio. Later, he apparently changed his story.

He changed it, it seems, not simply because of the confusion of old age, but because of pressure from those around him. Mr Naki was already a hero, as a man of scant education who had trained himself to carry out extremely difficult transplants on animals. He was also a martyr to apartheid: a man debarred from the proper exercise of his skills, and even from fair pay, by an iniquitous regime. (Christiaan Barnard admitted that, “given the opportunity”, Mr Naki would have been “a better surgeon than me”.) For both reasons, his role was gradually embellished in post-apartheid, black-ruled South Africa. By the end, he himself came to believe it.

The process was assisted by hints from Barnard that Mr Naki had helped him in ways that were not fully known, and by the fact that, under apartheid, any such help on white human subjects would have had to be secret anyway. In the end, a story took shape that looked so plausible to the outside world that not only ourselves, but the Lancet, the British Medical Journal and many others accepted it. Yet the same story appeared so ridiculous to the University of Cape Town, staff say, that they did not trouble to deny it.

To report this misapprehension is doubly sad, apart from our own regret at being caught up in it. It is sad that the shadow of apartheid is still so long in South Africa that blacks and whites can tell the same narrative in quite different ways, each suspecting the motives of the other. And it is especially tragic that it should have involved Mr Naki, a man considered “wonderful” by both sides, black and white, and whose life should still be seen as an inspiration.

July 07, 2005

For Men: Skip The Deo :)

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Rediff Aricle

What kind of men do women like?

July 07, 2005

Women tend to choose genetically superior men for their short-term sexual relationships and are most likely to cheat on their long-term partner when they are at their most fertile period, according to a study.

Czech researchers, whose study was quoted by Nature magazine, found that the smell of a socially dominant male is most exciting to women in stable relationships, especially on days when they are ovulating.

Jan Havlmcek, of Charles University in Prague, and his colleagues asked 48 men to complete a questionnaire, rating statements in order to score the volunteers' social dominance. The researchers also asked them to wear cotton pads under their arms to collect sweat.

A group of 65 women then smelled the pads and rated the sexiness and masculinity of the scent. Women in the middle week of their menstrual cycle, the point at which fertility is at its peak, tended to prefer the smell of the men who scored highest on the dominance quiz, the study revealed.

This preference was not shown by women at other points in their cycle, the researchers say. The results support a theory of mixed mating strategies, which argues that women should want different things from different men at different times.

Females are expected to pair up with the males most likely to invest in parental care, but any affair is likely to be conducted with successful males who, although they may not be good dads, provide good genes.

"Other studies have shown that women are more likely to get involved in extra-pair affairs during their fertile period," Havlmcek says. "We suppose that in such cases more socially dominant males would be preferred."