For American conservatives, Britain’s NHS is an antiquated Orwellian dystopia. For Brits, even those who don’t love the NHS, American conservatives are better suited to spaghetti westerns, such as Fistful of Dollars, than reality. The twain are unlikely to meet after the recent press surrounding Charlie Gard, the infant, now deceased, with a rare, fatal mitochondrial disorder in which mitochondrial DNA is depleted — mitochondrial depletion disorder (MDD). In this condition, ...

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A study published in JAMA looking at the brains of former football players donated to a brain bank, a highly selective sample, found signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — a degenerative neurological disease — in nearly all deceased players examined. The mainstream media converged towards numerical consensus.

Any backpacker traveling on a shoestring in Thailand knows not to blow their entire budget on premium whiskey in a premium hotel on the first night in Bangkok. Rather, you need to skip the occasional meal, stay in a cheap dorm with random strangers and drink cheap beer on Khao San Road if you wish to see the country and return home without having to wash dishes in a restaurant ...

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When I first read about neurosyphilis in medical school, I became convinced that Mrs. Thatcher, who I detested intensely because it was fashionable detesting her, had general paralysis of the insane. The condition, marked by episodic bouts of temporary insanity, which indicated that the spirochetes were feasting on expensive real estate in the brain, seemed a plausible explanation why she had introduced the poll tax. A little bit of medical knowledge ...

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In college, I once marched for the plight of Tibetans. Forty of us marched in Hyde Park, London; after an hour, half retreated to the nearest pub to discuss global injustices. Recently, over a million, including five penguins, marched for science. There were no penguins at our march for Tibetans but our goal, though naïve and unrealistic, was clear -- we wanted Tibetan independence from Chinese rule. The goals of ...

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Recently, the Harvard Chan School of Public Health reported on the effect of surgical checklists in South Carolina. The press release was titled, “South Carolina hospitals see major drop in post-surgical deaths with nation’s first proven statewide Surgical Safety Checklist Program.” The Health News Review, for which I review, grades coverage of research in the media. Based on their objective criteria, the Harvard press release would ...

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Being a radiologist, I rarely speak to patients, but I was asked to counsel Mrs. Patel (not her real name), who was worried about the risks of radiation from cardiac calcium CT scan. Because of her risk factors for atherosclerosis, her cardiologist wanted her to take statins for primary prevention, but she was reluctant to start statins. They eventually reached a truce. If she had even a speck of calcium ...

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Years ago, when I was less flexible, I took up Pilates. My instructor, Jim, a charming chap with an infectious laughter, was a 9/11 truther. I’d egg him on to hear about his conspiracy theories. Jim believed that 9/11 was concocted by Bush and Halliburton so that the U.S. could invade Iraq to capture their oil. He thought that United Flight 93 never took off. Whatever happened after 9/11 became ...

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Halfway through the “Bell Curve,” which is an analysis of differences in intelligence between races, I realized what had been bothering me about Charles Murray’s thesis. It wasn’t the accuracy of his analysis, which concerned me too. It was what he analyzed. The truth, I used to believe, was always beautiful, whether it was what happened in the multiverse at T equals zero or the historical counterfactual if ...

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In 2014, a jury in Massachusetts awarded $16.7 million in damages to the daughter of a Bostonian lady who died from lung cancer at 47 for a missed cancer on a chest X-ray. The verdict reminds me of the words of John Bradford, a heretic who was burned at the stake: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Many radiologists will sympathize with both the patient ...

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