News and Views

Misinformation lingers in memory: Failures of three pro-vaccination strategies were recently published in PLoS. The article attempts to assess three communication strategies designed to promote vaccinations and decrease “vaccination hesitancy.” The study was small; 120 university students in Italy and Scotland given one of three informational messages about vaccines. The first restated a vaccine myth alongside the corresponding vaccine fact; the second presented the same information in a graphic format; the third presented vaccine information in a more fear driven mode e.g. showing children who had suffered from diseases because they had not been vaccinated. The student participants were tested on a...

A new online game is designed to trace neurons in the brain. It is designed to clarify the types of neurons found in the brain and the connections between them. It is, at the same time, blurring the lines between gaming and scientific discovery. 

The game is called "Mozak" - the word for the brain in Serbo-Croatian. It is an online game where the task is to follow a neuron with your computer mouse, tracing it as you go. That may not sound appealing, but, tracing a line to soft music is both enjoyable and slightly addictive. 

The game was created by the Allen Institute for Brain Science and the ...

It's not an exaggeration to say that the American public hates the media.

A poll conducted by Gallup last year showed that merely 32% of Americans had a "great deal" or "fair amount" of trust in the mass media. A Harvard poll, reported by The Hill, concluded that 65% of Americans think the media publishes fake news.

Who can we thank for Americans' disgust with the media? Journalists like Brian Williams.

You remember Brian Williams. He's the former anchor of NBC Nightly News who was replaced for...

When not one country in the world meets the “breastfeeding standards” set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), it might be time to question their value. Are they attainable-- more importantly, should they be?

Or, are they a tool to push through an overarching agenda of changing maternal behavior and legislation on paid maternity or family leave? Among other political motives. Since they claim a mother’s decision to feed her child is “strongly influenced by economic, environmental, social and political factors” and “no country is highly...

Recently, I published an article More Bad News for Single Payer Health System detailing the reasons for a disastrous report recently generated out of London by the National Health Service (NHS) about poor quality of care for the sickest patients. Care that was deemed less than good for every four out of five cases with a climbing mortality rate of one in three all being attributed to sub-standard practices. (See here). (1)

Then, news came out from NHS England that the number of people waiting for routine surgery exceeded 4 million. The highest in a decade. The...

When those two little red lines pop up on a pregnancy test, it does not take long for most mothers to shift into full ‘operation healthy pregnancy’ mode. The standard list of things to do to shift the odds in your favor of having a healthy baby have not changed much over the decades and it's rare that a new recommendation gets added. However, a new study may do just that - adding take vitamin B3 (also called niacin) to the list. 

It is rare that an entire story gets neatly wrapped up in one paper, but that is the case with this new report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study uncovers the link between defects in the biochemical pathway that is responsible for making the essential biomolecule nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and the cause of certain...

Murders in America have increased recently. This has been made horrifyingly obvious by the tragic nightly news stories coming from Chicago, a city whose homicide rate has skyrocketed in the last few years. (The homicide rate in Chicago is a legitimate hockey stick graph.)

The homicide rate in Chicago, though extremely alarming, is not the nation's worst for a large city. That dubious distinction goes to St. Louis. Other cities with higher homicide rates than Chicago include Memphis, Baltimore, New Orleans, Detroit, Cleveland, and Birmingham. (The Economist has an excellent...

The American medical system ranks as the highest quality health system in the whole world. It is not cheap to become a doctor in the United States. Nor is it easy. The road to doctoring is one of the most grueling and challenging paths to embark on and becoming a credentialed physician in the US guarantees the individual has successfully completed the required training.

What our health system has not been able to do is meet the needs of the under-served regions of our country meaning mostly rural areas. Additionally, there also a concomitant physician shortage. What if we could fill that void? There are refugee doctors who come to this country fully trained who are working as cab drivers. Can we utilize this resource? What are the benefits and drawbacks of doing so?

A...

A recent report generated out of London by the National Health Service (NHS) paints a grim picture about systemic failings in healthcare of the sickest patients, those requiring acute oxygen and breathing assistance (or non-invasive ventilation (NIV)). Also known as basic or fundamental life support. 

Citing high mortality rates —more than one in three died— due to sub-standard practices, The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death. Inspiring Change reveals the sad reality of care quality reduction when resources limit appropriate staffing and equipment supply for ever increasing patient volumes. The care was rated as less than...

Living in Seattle, food phobias are everywhere. If you're afraid of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, GMOs, hormones in meat, pesticides, gluten, or anything that requires a PhD scientist to produce, then Seattle is your organic Mecca. Despite that Seattle's economy is partially built on the biotech sector (not to mention that the much-loved University of Washington has an enormous biomedical science program -- of which yours truly is a graduate), Seattle is a global headquarters of kooky food fads and alternative medicine.

Why? The entire "natural is better" movement is predicated upon fear. Scaring people is a time-tested tactic employed by politicians. If a politician wants elderly people to vote for him, he will tell them that his opponent will take away their...