Blog Archives

Non-fiction review: Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre

Like any good scientist, Ben Goldacre starts with his hypothesis: Medicine is broken: the plane flies but it crashes much more often than it needs to. The rest of the book is a meticulously researched and eloquently argued support of

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Posted in Book review: non-fiction, Wednesday Pontification

Greater Minds: Richard Feynman on the value of doubt

Richard Feynman’s essay, The Value of Science, described a philosophy of ignorance. The scientific mindset is excited by ignorance as an opportunity for discovery. The opposing demagogic mindset denies the existence of ignorance and claims certainty. We all use the

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Posted in Greater minds, Wednesday Pontification

Should we fear the weekend effect?

The British health secretary wants to impose new working conditions on doctors. He says we’re more likely to die if we’re admitted to hospital over the weekend than during the week. The ‘weekend effect’ has been shown, but weekday and

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Posted in Current affairs

Inspirations: The immaculate deception of James Barry

James Barry was a senior army surgeon of the Regency and Victorian eras, and also a woman in disguise. ‘He’ wasn’t identified as Margaret Ann Bulkley, an Irish debtor’s daughter, until 2008. Barry performed the first successful Caesarian section in

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Posted in Inspirations, Wednesday Pontification

Arguing with antivaxers on the Huffington Post

I wanted to understand antivaxer arguments, so I debated them on the Huffington Post. They repeatedly made assertions linked to articles that didn’t support them. When I challenged their assertions, they did not engage with discussion on them. Quackery and

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Posted in Wednesday Pontification

Inspirations: Weaponising the Cuddle Chemical

Oxytocin is a hormone that induces trust. It is one of the maguffins in my short story, Spookmoth. Oxytocin is involved in the bonding between intimate partners and larger collaborative groups. Increased group loyalty can be at the expense of

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Posted in Inspirations, Wednesday Pontification

Measles vaccination saves even more lives than anyone thought

A few weeks ago, I flew into one of my rages at pseudoscientific misinformation and listed the many reasons to ignore the scaremongers and vaccinate children against measles. A study published a couple of weeks ago showed the benefits of

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Posted in Current affairs

Measles on the March

Measles kills 400 people every day, and has returned to countries where it had been eradicated. The MMR vaccine is a safe and effective way of protecting children from measles. Studies in countries where MMR was discontinued prove there is

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Posted in Current affairs, Wednesday Pontification

Three Parent Panic

Parliament is debating whether to allow mitochondrial replacement. It will not help people with mitochondrial disease, but will allow women with defective mitochondria to have children who are related to them. The Church of England claims the issues have not

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Posted in Current affairs

Inspirations: Atul Gawande on Numbered Days

Modern medicine can extend life beyond the point where the patient feels it is worth living. The role of the doctor is to ask the patient how they want to spend what time they have left and to help them

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Posted in Inspirations, Wednesday Pontification
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