Blogging on medicine - blog by Gurdur

 




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Blogging on medicine
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Posted 06-Sep-2010 at 02:47 AM (02:47) by Gurdur

I saw this blog post, which almost made it into my Sunday Blogs Round-Up, except I decided to make it the subject of a blog post all of its own. That blog post cited this blog post, both being on what those who blog and/or report on medicine should be able to answer and to know. Both are reasonable posts, and wellworth thinking over; but I have a few bones to pick with them. As a blogger, I find it important for myself to blog on medical and science issues, and it's obviously then important to be able to do a reasonable job of doing so, so I try to learn as much as possible about doing it better. Now onto those bones I want to pick with each blog post:

Quote:
source:
"Medical reporting in the lay press does the public a disservice
---because it distorts more than it informs."
No, not true as a rule, only true sometimes -- and I'll also point out that sometimes those most skilled in medicine can also be the very worst in communicating it or reporting it, usually when they get on an ego trip about it.

Quote:
"Outline the scientific method."
or
"Define and distinguish: epidemic, pandemic, endemic."
or
"Define and distinguish: heart failure, shock, heart attack, angina."
All those seem like fair enough test criteria to me for those wanting to blog/report on medicine.

Quote:
"Explain how the 1918 influenza pandemic was fundamentally different from the 1957, 1968 and 2009 pandemics."
Strangely enough, I do well on this one. But then, I really like pandemics. Really. And the 1918 flu, the Spanish Lady, is a fascinating subject.

Quote:
"Explain the hazards of examining scientific questions in the arena of public debate."
Now, this is beginning to again reveal unhelpful bias in setting up the test -- assuming a hostile situation from the start, rather than acknowledging that blogging on medicine is in many ways simply like blogging on anything complex, like complex real politics, philosophy or so on.

A worthy question cast in a bad manner.

Quote:
"Explain why scientific progress does not lend itself to sound bite reporting or “news of the day” journalism."
Too much bias, too little thought about how best to report science well in just such sound-bites when necessary.

Quote:
"Explain the difference between clinical significance and statistical significance in clinical trial results."
Reasonable as part of the test criteria, and very important as an issue.

Quote:
"Distinguish between a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) and an artificial heart.

Distinguish between pacemaker, implantable defibrillator and cardiac resynchronization device."
Beginning to get ridiculous, irrelevant and petty. Seriously, anyone reporting/blogging on such items could easily check facts with Wikipedia on the exact items and their place before writing. This is also a fair bit of a bias towards cardiology, which reminds me of a cardiologists' conference full of miserable cardiologists I once attended in Berlin (I get around, much more than you would think).

Quote:
"Define evidence based medicine."
Oh, certainly important - and just as important is the knowledge needed for a mildly skeptical or mildly critical approach to the school of thought called "evidence-based medicine" or its spin-off "science-based medicine", and some of the politics inherent in those schools of thought.

So, read both blog posts, see what you think yourself.
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  1. Old Comment

    Doom, Disease, this pair...

    Good points, but I thought I would go a bit off-topic to stay on topic.
    ____"But then, I really like pandemics."

    ____"(I get around, much more than you would think)"

    I think I know exactly where the next pandemic will start...
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Of course, the problem is context.

    I also got the feeling that Mr. Donnell was going too far until I read the sparkplug of his post-- http://www.pathguy.com/sci_ed.txt and considered the state of education over here. I think I can see where Donnell is coming from. You bring up going to Wikipedia. Good enough, usually. I wonder how many readers and reporters actually do so out of habit? But hold, back up a step. How many, out of habit, ask themselves what a sentence means in its context after looking things up? A good reporter should be able to ask what a sentence in a journal article means in context. Then back up and ask the same about his own sentences.

    For journalists seeking to make a living at readers' expense, I would also suggest a couple of years in hands-on chemistry, biological, or similar research to gain experience in applying science and statistics--just raw knowledge is rarely enough, I think. Am I correct on that surmise? I don't know how much experience a journalist picks up post-graduation.

    Hey, thanks for that "mildly skeptical" near the end. We humans are to prone to fooling ourselves in anything.

    Hmmm. And when are you scheduling the next pandemic?
    Posted 10-Sep-2010 at 10:40 PM (22:40) by Unregistered
  2. Old Comment
    Gurdur's Avatar

    Doom, Disease, this pair...

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Unregistered View Comment
    Good points, but I thought I would go a bit off-topic to stay on topic.
    ____"But then, I really like pandemics."

    ____"(I get around, much more than you would think)"

    I think I know exactly where the next pandemic will start...
    Heh. Heh.

    Quote:
    Of course, the problem is context.

    I also got the feeling that Mr. Donnell was going too far until I read the sparkplug of his post-- http://www.pathguy.com/sci_ed.txt and considered the state of education over here. I think I can see where Donnell is coming from. You bring up going to Wikipedia. Good enough, usually. I wonder how many readers and reporters actually do so out of habit? But hold, back up a step. How many, out of habit, ask themselves what a sentence means in its context after looking things up? A good reporter should be able to ask what a sentence in a journal article means in context. Then back up and ask the same about his own sentences.

    For journalists seeking to make a living at readers' expense, I would also suggest a couple of years in hands-on chemistry, biological, or similar research to gain experience in applying science and statistics--just raw knowledge is rarely enough, I think. Am I correct on that surmise? I don't know how much experience a journalist picks up post-graduation.

    Hey, thanks for that "mildly skeptical" near the end. We humans are to prone to fooling ourselves in anything.

    Hmmm. And when are you scheduling the next pandemic?
    Interesting comments, Unregistered, and thanks!
    Posted 10-Sep-2010 at 11:09 PM (23:09) by Gurdur Gurdur is offline
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