Thursday, 30 October 2014

English Rituals

England's strange winter rituals via DuckDuckGo for Android

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Medication of Wildlife

There is plenty of evidence that many medicines widely prescribed and in use today have dubious pharmacological benefit.  Ben Goldacre's Bad Science has done much to illuminate this otherwise secretive world which is driven largely and solely by profit, whilst persisting on the premise of "trust me, I'm a doctor" rather than sound science.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Urine Trouble

Heads up for what promises to be an interesting program on Radio 4 this evening.  Urine Trouble:
  • You have a headache and take a pill. The headache is gone, but what about the pill?

    What we flush away makes its way through sewers, treatment works, rivers and streams and finally back to your tap. Along the way most of the drugs we take are removed but the tiny amounts that remain are having effects. Feminised fish in our rivers, starlings feeding on Prozac-rich worms, and bacteria developing antibiotic resistance; scientists are just beginning to understand how the drugs we take are leaving their mark on the environment.

    The compounds we excrete are also telling tales on us. Professor of Chemistry, Andrea Sella, gets up close and personal with music festival toilets to find out what the revellers are swallowing, and hears from scientists who are sampling our rivers to learn about our health.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Decline Effect

If you've read Ben Goldacre's Bad Science or Bad Pharma then you'll be aware of the deep rooted problems in medical research.  But it gets worse.  It seems that the truth is a 'perishable commodity', as articulated in Everything We Know is Wrong (available on iPlayer):
  • "Every day the newspapers carry stories of new scientific findings. There are 15 million scientists worldwide all trying to get their research published. But a disturbing fact appears if you look closely: as time goes by, many scientific findings seem to become less true than we thought. It's called the "decline effect" - and some findings even dwindle away to zero.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Medieval Hospital Food

Today the Guardian asks whether medieval hospital food was superior to that provided today.  What jumps out is this bit:
  • "It’s important to remember that for most patients in the past there was much less division between “medicine” and “food” than is the case now. The dominant humoral understanding of the body explained disease as an imbalance of the major fluids of the body, of hot, cold, wet and dry “qualities”. These imbalances could be cured by altering diet, environment, exercise patterns and sleeping habits, as well as with medicines and bloodletting – so a personalised diet might be part of a course of medical therapy."
Their understanding seems in part to be right, but for the wrong reasons!