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Latest Posts

Defining The Label: What Is An Antivaxer?

Labels are a cognitive double-edged sword. We need to categorize the world in order to mentally capture it – labels help us organize our mental maps of the overwhelming complexity of things and to communicate with each other. But labels can also be mental prisons, when they substitute for a thorough, nuanced, or individualized assessment – when categorization becomes pigeon-holing.

We use many labels in our writings here, out of necessity, and we try to be consistent and thoughtful in how we define the labels that we use, recognizing that any sufficiently complex category will be necessarily fuzzy around the edges. We have certainly used a great deal of electrons discussing what exactly is science-based medicine, and that the label of so-called alternative medicine is really a false category, used mainly for marketing and lobbying (hence the caveat of “so-called”).

We get accused of using some labels for propaganda purposes, particularly “antivaccinationist” (often shortened to “antivaxer”). Also “denier” or “denialist”, as in germ-theory denier. Even though we often apply labels to ourselves, no one likes having an unflattering label applied to them, and so we have frequent push-back against our use of the above terms.

As with many such terms, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Little Evidence For ER Wait Time Marketing Claims And Other Health News

ER Waits: Hospitals’ marketing claims of short waits for emergency room care aren’t backed up by any evidence, John Dorschner reports for the Miami Herald.

Chronic Fatigue: The editors of prestigious journal Science have retracted a controversial paper linking chronic fatigue syndrome to the XMRV virus; critics of the study believe contamination of samples was to blame for the results, which have not been replicated by other scientists, Ivan Oransky reports for Reuters.

Environmental Health: Tough new EPA rules on mercury emissions from oil- and coal-burning power plants are being Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Reporting on Health - The Reporting on Health Daily Briefing*

Dental Fillings And Birth Defects: What Moms-To-Be Should Know

Although the first trimester of pregnancy is sacred, there will be patients who will encounter problems at that time. During the first trimester, the brain and the central nervous system develops from 6 to 10 weeks, a time period commonly known as organogenesis. To minimize the risk of developing birth defects, medications and invasive procedures are usually postponed until the arrival of the second trimester.

A recent article in the October 2010 issue of Ob.Gyn. News reported some disturbing findings: Dental fillings in the first trimester were linked to the development of a cleft palate. A cleft palate is a birth defect that has a slit in the roof of the mouth because it failed to close during the first trimester.

The article by Susan London described a study in Norway where pregnant women had dental filings in the first trimester and their babies subsequently developed cleft palates. Ideally, dental problems should be addressed prior to becoming pregnant, however that is not always an option. Dental problems can occur during pregnancy because of the increased calcium requirements of the fetus as well as hormonal changes of the pregnancy. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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