A rapidly escalating measles outbreak near Portland, OR has led local health officials to declare a public health emergency, with 44 confirmed cases, almost all in unimmunized children. Meanwhile, New York and New Jersey have been facing a similar crisis over the past few months, with over 200 confirmed cases of the measles tearing through the ultra-orthodox Jewish communities in the area, where individuals ...

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Are you a media whore? Or do you worry you might be labeled one by your colleagues – if not to your face, then behind your back? In the process of delivering hundreds of media engagement workshops, I’ve heard dozens and dozens of you express this fear, using precisely this language. You've made it clear that the mild put-down of "microphone hog" I was familiar with has now been replaced with ...

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An opinion piece published in JAMA suggests the latter: "Protecting the Value of Medical Science in the Age of Social Media and 'Fake News'" The authors argue social media poses a threat to science in several ways:

  • Unfettered publication of unvetted information by sources of unknown reliability.
  • An emerging tactic of decrying disagreeable content as “fake” or part of a “conspiracy.”
  • Opponents of evidence-based research who perpetuate ...

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For several years now, I’ve been the social media curmudgeon in medicine. In a 2011 New York Times op-ed titled “Don’t Quit This Day Job,” I argued that working part-time or leaving medicine goes against our obligation to patients and to the American taxpayers who subsidize graduate medical education to the tune of $15 billion per year. But today, eight years after the passage of the Affordable Care ...

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Effective clickbait doesn’t just happen. It’s carefully crafted. Take this wildly misleading article from CNN: Not exercising worse for your health than smoking, diabetes, and heart disease, study reveals. It’s one example — among many generated daily by various news outlets — of how a mundane observational study can be transformed into viral internet gold. In the days after it was published, this story was liked and shared hundreds ...

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Sanjay Gupta. John Locke. Jill Stein. Charles Krauthammer. What do they all have in common? If you guessed that they are all physicians, then you’re right. Less salient, however, is the fact that all of them pursued passions outside of medicine. (Dr. Gupta is an Emmy Award-winning medical reporter. John Locke was a physician-philosopher. Stein and Krauthammer both made their mark in politics.) In doing so, they avoided an existential trap that ...

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Fifty years ago, in a golden moment of television comedy shows, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In program regularly featured “The Flying Fickle Finger of Fate” award.  Wikipedia says it “recognized actual dubious achievements by public individuals or institutions.” Do a Google search.  You’ll quickly see how popular this award became. Yes, I’m dating myself by going back 50 years.  But mine is the generation that often becomes obsessed with being given “the ...

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In academic medicine, promotion depends on the weight of our curricula vitae, measured primarily by the number of papers we publish in peer-reviewed journals. Physicians strive to jump through the hoops of publishing their work in “top” journals ranked by the “impact factor” (yearly average number of citations for a given journal). Yet the “impact factor” of these journals — even those considered most prestigious and most impactful — is ...

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Houston Chronicle reporter Craig Hlavaty recently treated readers to a first-person account of getting an intravenous (IV) vitamin infusion inside a van parked outside his house. The article, “Feeling the drip, drip, drip of the mobile IV craze,” related how a needle was inserted into his arm, “just where a tattooed lightning bolt strikes.” Hlavaty extolled the cool rush of liquid into his veins: After a few minutes, a great euphoria hits ...

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We live in incredible times. A time when a millennial with a YouTube account clears six-figures a year (sometimes, seven figures!) with just a computer and a webcam. A time when a small-town girl with a love of fashion and an Instagram account can go from Nowheresville, America to front row at New York Fashion Week. A time when the shy girl in the back of the classroom amasses a following of hundreds ...

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