At a recent conference I was approached by more than a few colleagues and asked about the Kardashian Index (K-index). For those oblivious to the term, K-index is a ratio of a researcher’s Twitter followers (as a measure of “celebrity”) over the number of their research citations (as a measure of “scientific value”). The article implies, and I quote: “A high K-index is a warning to the community that researcher X may ...

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Every time there is a terrorist act or a mass murder, reporters start calling with questions on the psychiatric diagnosis of the perp. The default position seems to be that every religious extremist or political fanatic or mass murderer must be crazy. How else to account for their weird behavior? Naming a diagnosis somehow satisfies a deep human need to explain what otherwise seems an unexplainable act. But names can only ...

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Recently, NPR published the results of a study confirming that removal of both breasts (a double mastectomy) fails to improve the chance of survival compared to breast conserving treatments for breast cancer. The headline of the story was “Double Mastectomies Don't Yield Expected Results, Study Finds.” This finding is not actually news to informed physicians. Since the 1980s, there has been widespread recognition that both mastectomies and lumpectomies offer an ...

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While driving to work, I listened to Mike and Mike (a radio sports talk show). Mike Greenberg made a wonderful point about his job. He described what they do as “professional over-reactors.” They take every game and extrapolate, sometimes irrationally, about the implications of that game. Does this remind you of health reporting? A study appears in a serious medical journal, and the press “blows it up” as the next great advance. ...

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I was shocked and deeply saddened when my daughter announced at the dinner table that Robin Williams had died of an apparent suicide. My wife and I and the three of our children home at the time all pretty much gasped audibly in unison, and then for a moment after, you could have heard a pin drop. For a bit after that, we talked about our shock and sorrow. And then after that, ...

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ZDoggMD's Dr. House of Cards  returns, and who does he have in his sights today? None other than Dr. Oz, who recently testified at a Congressional hearing.  See how he fares against Dr. Underwood.

robin williams Dear Robin, You were such an inspiration.  You showed us courage in the face of adversity, making us laugh while your own soul was broken. Even now, at the time of your death, we find ourselves in a recently forgotten place where all people -- regardless of faith, color, or country of origin -- stand united, sending out love to you and your family. You ...

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dr-oz-profile Recently, Dr. Oz has come under scrutiny for his information on a number supplements that he alleges help with weight loss. Over the past 2 years, he has presented information about 3 diet supplements: green coffee extract, raspberry ketones and garcinia cambogia. After reviewing the available information, I can not agree that there is compelling scientific information to recommend ...

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Red wine is good for you. Red wine is bad for you. News coverage of health studies can give readers cognitive whiplash, and for good reason. “The reason the stories contradict each other is because the studies contradict each other,” reporter Virginia Hughes wrote in her blog. In her post, Hughes explains why it can be so frustrating to write about complex health research for an audience of readers that ...

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Is it possible for a doctor to be a journalist? A journalist a doctor? A runner to be a journalist and a doctor? In trying to be all the above I walked (arguably crossed) a line which sparked disappointment amongst my co-workers, and criticism from the public. When I started residency we had a lecture on the do’s and don’ts of social media. Don’t talk about patients, don’t post pictures of ...

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The recent concentration of misleading media hooey about health has been excruciating, but the problem is perennial. I trust I needn't make the case that you are under constant assault by distorted, contorted, titillating, and insipid headlines. This is certainly true in my domain of health and medicine; it may well be true more generally, but I tend to limit my commentary to the realm of my actual expertise. But to ...

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Interpreting studies is a dicey thing. Often I find what might be statistically significant translated into headlines that might not really get at the nuance of the study or the results. Take these three for example:

  1. "Pine bark extract improves severe perimenopausal symptoms"
  2. "Two weeks of antibiotic therapy relieves IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)"
  3. "Study: 'Female viagra flibanserin' works"
The first line of the last article: "Need a boost to your sex life. The magic could be in ...

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On December 4th, 2013, Katie Couric gave the HPV vaccine center stage during a segment on her talk show, Katie. The segment, entitled “The HPV Controversy,” was 20 minutes long, but ignited a digital firestorm between pro- and anti-vaccine voices that raged for days after the stage lights went dark. In partnership with Global Prairie, the entire online conversation surrounding this Katie segment was digitally captured using DataFarm. ...

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An article published in the New York Times last weekend has been circulating widely on the Internet, and I feel that more than ever, physician voices are needed to reach the public and counter certain misconceptions put forth by the media. The article, "Patients’ Costs Skyrocket; Specialists’ Incomes Soar," charts the growth of specialist incomes in the past decade, using the case of a patient from Arkansas who had a ...

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Perhaps you’ve seen some of the media coverage reporting that “an apple a day” would save as many lives as statins do, with fewer side effects. Or perhaps not -- thankfully, this tongue-in-cheek “study” didn’t get the intense coverage received by the new statin guidelines (an issue I Read more...

In case you haven't heard, Malcolm Gladwell recently released his book, David and Goliath.  I'm just about finished reading it. Just as interesting as the book are its reviews.  In a recent post from Slate, Gladwell himself responds to the criticism.  He freely admits that his books should not be held as pinnacles of academic rigor, but should be considered "intellectual adventures stories." He further elaborates on the power of ...

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Have you noticed that most sick characters on TV shows look pretty good and are coherent -- often feisty -- even when they are in the hospital? Have you caught the number of ads for drugs and health plans showing happy, vigorous people that dominate the major consumer health websites and are common on TV? Have you noted that websites of disease voluntary organizations (lungcancerCrohn's diseasearthritis) tend to show healthy people participating in "fun runs" or ...

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miley-cyrus-we-cant-stop-1-650-430 I have a confession. I like pop music. During my commute each day I admit I often make the mind-bending switch between NPR and the top 40 station. Even if you trend toward a more high-brow music collection, perhaps you’ll allow me that these tunes are catchy and they’ve got a beat. But lately I’m feeling fairly conflicted about it. I didn’t watch the VMAs. ...

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MiracleWhipMillion-e1371926810326 I happened to see this Miracle Whip advertisement in a magazine left open by a patient in our waiting room, and I really found it offensive.  Let’s dissect the ways in which this advertisement sullies the notion of food, and examine how far the concept of Miracle Whip strays from real food that should be enjoyed. At the top of the page it ...

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the view Jenny McCarthy is officially joining The View. “Do I have opinions?” one reporter asked. Yup. My concerns center around Jenny McCarthy’s past willingness to trade-in her experience for expertise. That is, she widely shared her theories and anecdotes about her son’s experience with learning challenges and falsely placed blame on vaccines for his then-diagnosed autism. I will not discount her private experience. What I discount ...

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