Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Medicine: Is there a doctor (with no ethics) in the house?

So it might not be obvious to most people, but participating in a state sanctioned execution is medically unethical. The AMA (that liberal bastion of socialists) and numerous other organizations have recognized this for years. And so when a Federal judge ordered anesthesiologists be present at the execution of Michael Morales, he was essentially asking for a doctor with no scruples. Fortunately, the two anesthesiologists present refused to participate and the execution had to be delayed. Once again, anesthesiologists help save (or at least prolong) a life and praises go unsung. But I'd like to say to those two physicians, you are my heroes.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Egocentric E-mail and You

We've all gotten an e-mail and questioned the tone, were they being funny or angry or what? Well, apparently confusion regarding e-mail is not uncommon.

According to recent research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, I've only a 50-50 chance of ascertaining the tone of any e-mail message. The study also shows that people think they've correctly interpreted the tone of e-mails they receive 90 percent of the time.

The researchers took 30 pairs of undergraduate students and gave each one a list of 20 statements about topics like campus food or the weather. Assuming either a serious or sarcastic tone, one member of each pair e-mailed the statements to his or her partner. The partners then guessed the intended tone and indicated how confident they were in their answers.

"People often think the tone or emotion in their messages is obvious because they 'hear' the tone they intend in their head as they write," Epley explains.

At the same time, those reading messages unconsciously interpret them based on their current mood, stereotypes and expectations. Despite this, the research subjects thought they accurately interpreted the messages nine out of 10 times.

The reason for this is egocentrism, or the difficulty some people have detaching themselves from their own perspective, says Epley. In other words, people aren't that good at imagining how a message might be understood from another person's perspective.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Theology and Culture Research

If anybody's got a theological interest and an interest in film or literature or obscure music, you might be able to help me with my upcoming essay...

update: the link is fixed

Monday, February 13, 2006

Money: Suddenly Crying A Little More Now

Every wonder what your major is worth? Want to know whether you should have sucked it up and taken that course in advanced theoretical mathematical analysis instead of underwater basket-weaving? Well, lucky for you, CNN Money gives us a handy list of the most lucrative majors.

Apparently, I graduated from a top 10 university with the 2nd most lucrative major out there. Instead of making money and enjoying life, I get to be called in to the hospital at 4 a.m. to draw blood and cut sutures 2 mm long (not 4 mm, DAMNIT!). I want to cry.

Politics: Threat Level Yellow

Not to steal Garrett's thunder (see photo post below), but this article by Andy Borowitz describing the government's response to Cheney's accident was too funny not to link to. It's about damn time, I say.

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Medicine: simple questions predict future eating disorders

Maybe it's just that I have this fantasy that preventive medicine is cheaper, more efficient, and makes people's lives suck less. And maybe I just like filling out forms. But I get really excited about questionaires that actually have useful predictive value, because questionaires are cheap, easy to organize, and give people stuff to do for that hour they're waiting on you in the waiting room instead of sorting through your old copies of the Placebo Journal.

Asking the right questions may allow doctors to tell whether a young woman is heading for an eating disorder, a new study suggests.

British researchers found that by giving young female dieters a questionnaire about their eating habits, they were able to accurately predict which ones would develop an eating disorder more than 70 percent of the time...

...The findings, according to Fairburn's team, suggest that a similar brief questionnaire could be used as part of young women's routine healthcare. Doctors could then target high-risk patients for prevention, or at least follow-up with them at subsequent visits.
According to the article, those who progressed to an eating disorder were much more likely to say they often ate "in secret" or frequently wanted to feel they had an "empty stomach." They also showed a greater preoccupation with food or their body shape, and more often feared they would "lose control" of their eating.

They also had a better chance of having gone to my high school. Dating me in high school was associated with a 100% future development of an eating disorder.

I can't find the text of the actual paper right now, but I do wonder what value a test like that might have in a 'designer' disorder. By 'designer' disorder, I mean a disease that a lot of people fake or 'aspire to.' And sadly, there are circles where it's cool to be anorexic. If you aren't, it's because you're too weak to be anorexic.

Don't get me wrong. Girls that have these diseases suffer. They live a life of an obsessed hell, and my God, they need help. But for every girl who lives in this terrible hell, there are probably a hundred O.C. watchers who want to be as anorexic as the chicks on that show. Of course, they want this because they're screwed up in the head, but not screwed up in the head by an eating disorder. They're simply children of the twenty first century.

And that should probably *almost* be a DSM-V ICD-9 codable disorder.

JibJab: 2-0-5!

JibJab's latest Bush parody year-end-roundup video clip deserves some love and attention even if it is early February.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Medicine: early puberty may increase risk of being victimized

Being victimized in this study includes being involved in physical fights, getting shot or stabbed, or playing for the Indiana Pacers.

"There is something unique about early maturity (relative to one's peers) that opens opportunities for victimization experiences," the study's authors write.

"It's not puberty that is what ultimately causes kids to get victimized," study co-author Dr. Alex Piquero, a criminologist at the University of Florida, told Reuters Health. "Early puberty seems to open up a different set of doors and social experiences to kids," he said, explaining that early maturing youngsters may start socializing with the opposite sex and with older, bigger, and stronger youth earlier than those who do not experience puberty early.

"Just like when people date," he said, "it opens up a world of different sets of people that they've never interacted with."

It is well known that young people who experience puberty early have a higher risk of depression, substance use, disruptive behaviors and various other conditions, yet researchers had not before investigated whether these youth were also more susceptible to victimization.
As a boy who was fully pimpled in third grade and had a full beard in seventh grade, I have to report I was never drafted by the Indiana Pacers.

This particular study doesn't seem to address some of the physiologic consequences of early versus late puberty, which seem particulary significant for girls, as girls who experience puberty later tend to have the slimmer physiques of Cosmopolitan, while girls who experience puberty earlier tend to have the ghetto booties of MTV Jams.

Guys like me who went through super-early puberty simply get tired of shaving by the age of 19 and grow furry beards and wear lots of flannel.

Monday, February 6, 2006

Hash Pipe: prior drug offenders now to be eligible for financial aid

Of course, this only applies to folk who had their drug offenses BEFORE they went to college, which is still absurd. But even incremental decreases in absurdity should be praised in this country nowadays.

Pity: Detroit doesn't capitalize on Super Bowl for revitalization

say the folks at Slate, who make a pretty strong case that Detroit isn't moving in any positive direction any time soon.

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Awwww: Puppy Bowl II

SBXL may be in Detroit, but the action is still between these 14 critters in Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl II. Last year it was on pretty much all day before the Super Bowl, and totally worth every minute. At least watch long enough to see a flag thrown when Sheeba the Shiba Inu takes a crap on the thirty yard line.

And you know I'm not kidding.