There is no such thing as good writing. Only good rewriting.
Kathleen Lohr, PhD. A senior research fellow at my company, RTI International
The landmark of political, economic, and social history are the moments when some condition passed from the category of the given into the category of the intolerable. I believe that the history of public health might well be written as a record of successive re-definings of the unacceptable.
Geoffrey Vickers, British industrialist. 1958
William Bennett and Robert White: Legal Pot Is a Public Health Menace
The title from the WSJ, “Legal Pot is a Public Health Menace” is a bit captivating, yes?
The article discusses the harms of marijuana and the position that greater access will increase consumption. “Legality is the mother of availability, and availability … is the mother of use” it says.
I can’t help but agree with the authors. Yes, marijuana can lead to bad health outcomes and can be a public health “menace”. Also, yes, legalizing it will lead to greater use.
But the article misses realities. We are surrounded by “public health menaces” with tobacco and alcohol being obviously high on the list.
I’m for legalization but am firmly against consumption. At the end of the day it is about personal choice, just like alcohol and tobacco use.
One more quote:
“Since Colorado legalized recreational use earlier this year, two deaths in the state have already been linked to marijuana.”
Care to tell me how many people died from tobacco or alcohol in Colorado this year?
How People Consume Conspiracy Theories on Facebook | MIT Technology Review
Science-based news faces an uphill challenge against misinformation. The article says:
[P]eople consume scientific news in the same way as they consume conspiracy news. They both have roughly the same number of likes per comment and comments per share.
That the consumption rates are the same is not good news, by the way. Going further into the article:
Readers of conspiracy news are more likely to both share and like a post than readers of mainstream science news. That appears to reflect a greater desire to spread conspiracy-based information than mainstream information.
One more important quote:
It turns out that readers focused on conspiracy news tend not to engage with mainstream sites but instead devote their energies towards the diffusion of conspiracies. By contrast, readers focused on scientific news are more likely to comment on conspiracy pages. “A possible explanation for such behavior is that the former want to diffuse what is neglected by mainstream thinking, whereas the latter aims at inhibiting the diffusion of conspiracy news,” say Bessi and co.
Read more on Technology Review.
The Price of Prevention: Vaccine Costs Are Soaring
“Vaccination prices have gone from single digits to sometimes triple digits in the last two decades, creating dilemmas for doctors and their patients as well as straining public health budgets. ”
FDA warnings about antidepressants may have led to more suicide attempts
A decade ago the FDA warned, rightly, about the risks associated with adolescents and suicide attempts when taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, a class of antidepressants. But, a BMJ article from Harvard researchers, available at the Washington Post, show this warning backfired. The WP says:
“antidepressant prescriptions fell sharply for adolescents age 10 to 17 and for young adults age 18 to 29."
As fewer adolescents took the medications, the rate of suicides also increased by 20%. The takeaway:
Researchers said their findings underscore how even well-intentioned public health warnings can produce unintended consequences, particularly when they involve widespread media attention and sensitive topics such as depression and suicide.
Anti-vaccine movement is giving diseases a 2nd life
This article started out depressing and ended up alarming. Here a parent talks about how he has not sought medical care, screening or otherwise, except for one ER visit, for his three chirdren:
His children — 6 months old, 8 and 12 — were all born at home. Aside from one visit to an emergency room for a bruised finger, none of them has ever been to a doctor, and they’re all healthy, he says, except for the occasional sore throat or common cold.
Wait, you have three kids, aged 6 months to 12 years, and there has only been one medical visit between all three? No health screenings? Nothing? Wow.
“It’s much more soothing to trust emergency medicine than a vaccine, which for me is like playing Russian roulette,” he says.
Saying the quote points to someone detached from reality is an understatement. At this point in my public health career I have never, ever, ever, ever heard someone say that acute emergency care was preferable to preventive care.