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Hits of the week past

Hits of the week: Savage Minds (with a spiffy website redesign) asks Why is there no Anthropology Journalism? Jerry Coyne takes sharp exception to both a paper and a SciAm Mind Matters article by Paul Andrews and Andy Thomson arguing that depression might be an evolutionary adaptation. Dr. Pangloss punches back. (NB: 1. I was…

Above: Kasparov after his first meeting with Deep Blue, in 1997, when he crushed DP. Later it wouldn’t go so well. In a splendid article in the NY Review of books, former world chess champion Gary Kasparov ponders the limitations of technology as a means of playing chess truly well. When I hit this paragraph…

via Wall Street Journal Health Blog: For a while now, the FDA and other regulators have been looking at safety risks associated with a few drugs patients sometimes take before getting MRI scans. While it’s common for new risks to crop up with established drugs, the Times of London this weekend highlighted an interesting twist…

[note: addition/corrections at bottom added an hour after orig post. additions underlined. deletions struckthrough. See *] Meet the meta-placebo: A new study suggests that ADHD meds do much of their work by producing placebo effects — and more constructive behavior — among the parents, teachers, and other caretakers of the kids actually taking the meds.…

Neuroskeptic offers an elegant unpeeling of a study seeming specifically designed to find a marketing-friendly distinction for a drug — Abilify — otherwise undistinguished. Suppose you were a drug company, and you’ve invented a new drug. It’s OK, but it’s no better than the competition. How do you convince people to buy it? You need…

What’s wrong — but horribly expected — in this picture? One week the CEO of Lilly attacks the idea of a public health insurance plan because it might reduce consumers’ “ability to choose, in an informed way, from all the available alternatives.” The next week, PhRMA, the trade group this CEO’s company is a part…

I’m having difficulty even reading, much less posting about, the river of stories about pharma and device industries, FDA regs, conflicts of interest, and so on. But I’ll take a stab here at spotlighting the main events and making some sense of where this is headed. For I don’t think it’s just coincidence that brings…

Angell on drug money: Just say No

Marcia Angell makes it plain: The fact that drug companies pay prescribers to be “educated” underscores the true nature of the transaction. Students generally pay teachers, not the reverse. The real intent is to influence prescribing habits, through selection of the information provided and through the warm feelings induced by bribery. Prescribers join in the…

The health-care system’s maddening inefficiencies — high per-capita spending with poorer overall health outcomes; tens of millions uninsured and tens of millions more underinsured; insane-making battles with insurers to get reimbursements you’re entitled too — are reason enough to spur reform. But “The Big Fix,” David Leonhardt’s marvelous-but-long piece on the fiscal crisis in last…

Rolling deadlines have kept me from the blogging desk, but I can occupy it long enough now to call out a few items that either haven’t received as much coverage as they might have — or that have gotten several interesting hits. • At Huffpost, Jeanne Lenzer and Shannon Brownlee offer the FDA a three-step…