I am a bioethics researcher who studies physician misconduct. I am also a former gymnast. I haven’t really kept up with gymnastics since I quit when I was 17. With the exception of the most recent Olympic Games, I avoid watching it on TV. The taciturn criticism from the commentators is too much for me to bear. I think, of course, she didn’t stick the landing. She just flew through the ...

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Should newspapers sell advertising space to those who propagate misleading or demonstrably false information about scientific issues? Is the paper’s desire to earn "a little extra cash for depleted print coffers," as the New York Times' public editor put it, a good enough justification for doing so? These are questions raised by the recent decisions by the Times and the Washington Post to publish in their print editions full-page, paid advertisements filled with ...

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During this recent emotional and divisive election cycle, much ink was devoted to analyzing the brave new political world we now live in, a world in which just about anyone with an audience and a platform can issue statements that are accepted as fact by millions of people, often in the face of solid evidence to the contrary. I’m talking, of course, about the world of post-truth politics. Two ...

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I was the "TV doctor" at the CBS, NBC, and ABC affiliates in Minnesota and Chicago for 25 years. I was on air several times a day and anchored my own news block. I did some good. I organized a colon cancer early detection campaign while presenting a series on the illness. One-hundred thousand viewers picked up Hemoccult tests, 25,000 sent them in, and I received a plaque that says, “Thank you for ...

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The drama in Syria captivates much of the world. We sit and watch horrified as innocent civilians and children suffer. The pictures coming out of the devastated city are truly heart-wrenching and the fabric that nightmares are created out of. As if to add to that unbelievable suffering, a bomb exploded in a Coptic church in Cairo, Egypt targeting women and children. Their only crime was going to attend the ...

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Ever since I started medical school, my friends and family will often ask my opinion on a new medical recommendation they recently read online or heard on the radio. The trouble is, many times their query falls upon my clueless ears, as it is the first I am hearing about that medical study. In this last year, as I diligently pour through my medical textbooks, or almost exclusively answer my ...

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I recently was speaking to two doctors about newspapers. Neither of them subscribed anymore. “Who has time to read the paper?” they agreed. “And any news you need is free online anyway.” No big news there, right? Plenty of people -- in medicine and otherwise -- have made similar decisions since the rise of the Internet in the mid-1990s. But what was striking to me is that these were not millennial ...

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As a researcher, there may come a time when you interact with the media. It may make you cringe; for traditional research publications, we have the protection of editing, and feedback from mentors and colleagues. Interviews feel much more risky: Questions are unpredictable, and there is seldom an opportunity to polish the product before it goes into the wild. Yet, interacting with the media offers an opportunity to garner attention ...

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When I was in high school, I remember being fascinated by the television series House the medical mystery show whose title character was the doctor version of Sherlock Holmes (only with non-existent ethics and a drug problem). Back then, of course, I didn’t have much understanding of the medicine behind the show, but I was impressed by the show’s apparently realistic use of medical terminology and the way it made the ...

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If that headline sounds like it can't possibly be true, that's because it isn't.  But British comedian John Oliver did recently give Americans a great lesson in bad "science," during a segment of his show, Last Week Tonight. Oliver often uses humor to take on serious social issues.  And what could be more serious than the news that smelling farts might prevent cancer? Lots of things, actually, as it turns out that ...

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