White Coat Underground

Archives for December, 2009

New Year’s Open Thread

New Year’s Eve. This is a profoundly arbitrary designation—the end of the year, end of the decade—really, there is nothing about December 31st that’s any different than any other day. But for historical reasons, this is the secular new year. Looking back on the last 12 or 13 months I can say that I’m happy…

Food isn’t medicine

The fake doctors at HuffPo are at it again. This time, Patricia Fitzgerald is writing about the “Top 10 Healing Foods of the Decade.” The article has just enough correct information in it to be exceptionally wrong. One of the more ironic aspects to this is her quoting Michael Pollan. I have problems with some…

Damned lies and idiots

Dr. Sherri Tenpenny is reportedly a doctor, although according to her website, she no longer practices medicine in any recognizable way. Perhaps that’s why she utters completely idiotic statements such as this one pointed out to me by Brother Orac: Study these numbers. We’ve had SARS, Bird flu and Swine flu. On average, approx. 190…

Raw milk—another spectacularly bad idea

I’ve never understood food fads. Michael Pollan’s maxim, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” has always seemed like reasonable, practical advice. Maybe it’s a disease of plenty—we have so much food, we have to find new ways to conceptualize it. Unless you live in an inner city, you can go to any market and…

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to my readers who celebrate this one. For those of you who do, you may sometimes wonder what those of us who don’t are doing today. Well, I find that Christmas is a great time to work at the hospital. It gives my Christian colleagues a break. Here in Michigan Jewish groups have…

Gird your loins—please

Do you know how many people have chlamydia? Syphilis? No? Me either. But it’s a lot. Depending on the group evaluated, chlamydia rates among young women range from 7-15%. And with STDs, there is always at least one other victim. The holidays tend to be a time of seeing old friends and drinking with them.…

Wouldn’t it be cool if after we died we didn’t…die? Just like in the fairy tales, we could go to some place where we play harps on clouds and eat marshmallows for breakfast; we could play with our dead dogs, and somehow manage to live in harmony with all of our dead lovers. Unless we…

Waiting is the hardest part

Human beings are an interesting mix of fragility and hardiness, and we have a tendency to overestimate both traits. We also tend to be somewhat over-confident in our own ability to make sense of patterns. This combination of traits often blinds us to the real magnitude of risks we encounter every day—we’re often scared of…

Multiple Sclerosis and Irrational Exuberance

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is fascinating illness that can range from mild annoyance to debilitating nightmare. The frightening nature and unclear cause of the disease makes it a magnet for questionable medical therapies (i.e. quackery). A piece published last week in (surprise!) the Huffington Post helps fuel the fires of suspicion and paranoia while failing to…

DC, same-sex marriage, and racial stereotypes

I was listening to Tell Me More yesterday and was drawn into the story. The host interviewed Michael Crawford, a DC-based activist. He attempted to debunk the idea that black communities are strongly anti-gay marriage. They played a clip of former DC mayor Marion Barry explaining how he personally might approve of gay marriage but…