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April 17, 2014

Americans Say It’s Immoral to Have an Affair and Moral to Use Contraception

(Washington Post) – Americans agree: It’s immoral to have an affair. Drinking alcohol or using contraception, on the other hand? Nobody cares. That’s according to the results of a new Pew Research Center survey. Interestingly, infidelity was the only category on that list deemed morally unacceptable by a majority of Americans.

April 2, 2014

Push to Get Experimental Drugs with Social Media Pressure on the Rise

(ABC News) – For a growing number of gravely ill patients running out of options, social media has become their last bastion of hope. And they’re sharing their private struggles to motivate public action. A young newlywed woman smiles for a blog photo despite obvious signs of illness: a cannula in her nose, and a bald head. A group of doctors pose in their scrubs holding signs bearing hashtags to support a sick teen. A small, shirtless boy looks out at a camera with medical tape stuck to his chest and wires sticking out of his arms as his parents snap a picture.

March 28, 2014

Fictional Plotlines and Real Assisted Suicide

(The Atlantic) – The introduction of complex issues into television plots is both a driver and a reflection of cultural shifts. Once a subject gets widespread treatment in scripts, the popular conversation can take on a new urgency, giving people a common vocabulary and a common set of feelings about the characters they’ve come to care about. Now when we talk about aid in dying for those with unbearable suffering—which is legal, with certain restrictions, in five states, with legislation pending in seven more—we can think of Beadie on Girls.

March 17, 2014

The Most Terrifying Kids’ Book

(Slate) – A good kids’ book delivers knowledge fundamental to living in the world, such as the (now apparently out of print) classic Everyone Poops. But Death Is Wrong, a new children’s title from transhumanist author Gennady Stolyarov, can only steer children toward confusion about mortality. The book encourages kids to help eradicate death with technology.

March 14, 2014

Ban on doctor’s group imperils Muslim minority in Myanmar

(New York Times) – Nearly 750,000 people, most of them members of a Muslim minority in one of the poorest parts of Myanmar, have been deprived of most medical services since the government banned the operations of Doctors Without Borders, the international health care organization and the main provider of medical care in the region. The government ordered a halt to the work of Doctors Without Borders two weeks ago after some officials accused the group of favoring the Muslims, members of the Rohingya ethnic group, over a rival group, Rakhine Buddhists.

February 7, 2014

As seen on TV, a medical mystery involving hip implants is solved

(New York Times) – By a strange coincidence, two leading medical journals on Thursday published case studies of the same arcane medical mystery. In one, doctors solved the riddle only after the patient, a middle-aged woman, got so sick she had to have a heart transplant. But in the other, a physician who teaches at the University of Marburg in Germany found the clues in Season 7, Episode 11, of the Fox television show “House.”

February 4, 2014

Sherlock’s text messages reveal our transhumanism

(Wired UK) – Since then, that technique — floating words representing text messages, internet searches, or some other form of technological interface — has become a core element of the series’ identity. And while there are plenty of tech-savvy shows out there, it’s that technique that makes Sherlock so incisive: not only is it reflective of our practices, but more importantly, it says as much about us as it does about its characters.

January 28, 2014

When judges believe in ‘Natural Law’

This year the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on at least two cases that weigh constitutional and statutory law against religious or moral beliefs. Both involve challenges to the Obamacare provision that requires for-profit companies to offer health insurance policies that cover contraception. In Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Secretary, etc., a national wood-supply company and its owners assert that they are entitled to an exemption based on their Mennonite owners’ view that contraception “is intrinsic evil and a sin against God to which they are held accountable.” In Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., et al. v. Sibelius, Hobby Lobby and its owners argue that they operate under Christian principles and that it would be “immoral” for them to provide contraception coverage. (The Atlantic)

January 22, 2014

The urge to dehumanise others is itself all too human

Rival sides in such conflicts describe each other in ways that deny their shared humanity: they may liken each other to vermin, or pests to be exterminated. The words onlookers use to describe such conflicts – bloody religious factionalism in the Central African Republic, for example, or the civil war in Syria – are also animalistic: perpetrators are “brutal”, while their victims are “slaughtered”. (New Scientist)

January 21, 2014

Sebelius: MLK said no American dream without healthcare access

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. described inequality in healthcare as the “most shocking and inhumane” form of injustice, a U.S. health official says. Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said as America honors the life of King and his legacy of fighting for racial equality, human rights and economic justice, his words concerning inequality in healthcare still resonate because there is nothing more essential to obtaining the American dream than good health. (UPI)

January 13, 2014

When the right to religion conflicts with a changing society

The Justice Department has argued that the nuns’ group is already exempt from providing birth control under the ACA, as long as it certifies its standing as a religious nonprofit. But the Little Sisters of the Poor, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, argues that documentation simply condones employees getting the coverage elsewhere. (NPR)

January 9, 2014

Conflict of interest

This year marks the anniversary of two significant events from the last century, perhaps the most significant of any century: 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War and 75 years since the start of the Second World War. It is natural for specialist publications to search out a ‘local’ angle on major news events, and Nature is no different. When it comes to modern warfare, however, the task is easier than with most events, for science is not a tangential topic in armed conflict. It lies, for both good and evil, at its heart. (Nature)

Healthcare worry scale: Americans’ concern for healthcare equal to that of economy, ahead of terrorism and government shutdown

The first Healthcare Worry Scale survey of more than 1,000 Americans nationwide shows that 74% are extremely concerned or very concerned about healthcare, just slightly behind the 79% concerned about the economy and ahead of the 67% about joblessness. In comparison, only 59% are as concerned about terrorism and only 51% about a government shutdown. (Sacramento Bee)

December 11, 2013

Most Americans don’t deal with end-of-life issues, study finds

Most Americans do not deal with end-of-life issues and wishes, a new study indicates. Researchers analyzed data from nearly 8,000 people who took part in nationwide surveys conducted in 2009 and 2010, and found that only about 26 percent had completed an advance directive, also called a living will. There were significant associations between completing an advance directive and age, income, education and health status, according to the study in the January issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. (U. S. News and World Report)

November 26, 2013

Doctor Who villains echo concerns about technology

On the eve of Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary, a bioethics researcher at the University of Leicester claims that one of the Doctor’s most fearsome villains – the Cybermen – represent public concerns about the greater use of technology in medicine. In their article “The Cybermen as Human,” Dr Chris Willmott from the University’s Department of Biochemistry and his former Research Assistant, Bonnie Green, reflect on ways in which the Doctor’s metal-clad foe can offer insight into human enhancement and the development of the “posthuman.” (Phys.org)

Dilbert creator: ‘The government is torturing my father until he dies’

Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, wrote a dark blog post about how he hoped his terminally ill father would die soon and how he wanted to inflict pain on the people who have voted against doctor-assisted suicide. (Business Insider Australia)

November 22, 2013

Knowledge, knowledge everywhere: Do social networks spread or drown health & science news

In his new book, Social Networks and Popular Understanding of Science and Health: Sharing Disparities, Dr. Brian Southwell explores the various reasons why there might be such huge differences in the extent to which health and science information gets “spread around” in different populations, starting off with individual personality & demographic differences that exist between different types of sharers themselves, touching on important network characteristics like density & cohesion, and finishing up by describing particular characteristics of “shareable” messages, like rhetorical structure and emotional content. (Scientific American)

November 18, 2013

Design fiction: Grow your own, life after nature

“GROW YOUR OWN… is a new exhibition created by Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin that invites you to consider some of the potentially ground-breaking applications and uncertain implications of synthetic life. Tackling the provocative questions that designing life raises, GROW YOUR OWN… gives you the opportunity to help shape future discussions around synthetic biology – an emerging approach to genetic engineering, bringing together engineers, scientists, designers, artists and biohackers to design ‘living machines’. (Wired)

November 12, 2013

Event: Comics & Medicine: From Private Lives to Public Health

John Hopkins Medical Campus
2014 Baltimore Conference
Comics & Medicine: From Private Lives to Public Health
June 26-28, 2014
Baltimore, Maryland

See here for more information.

October 30, 2013

Stigma lingers for deadliest cancer

Tell a friend or colleague that your aunt just found out she has lung cancer. Almost always the response will be, “Did she smoke?” Then tell someone else that your aunt just found out she has breast cancer, or colon cancer, or any other type of cancer you can think of. This time the response will be pure sympathy, without any blame attached. (CNN)

October 29, 2013

Live to 120? Thanks but no thanks.

Most people wish to live a long and healthy life. But apparently…not too long. That’s among the major findings in a recent survey by the Pew Research Center that looks at attitudes about aging, medical advances and “radical life extension”—the possibility that science might slow (or stop) the aging process and “allow humans to remain healthy and productive to the age of 120 or more.” (Wall Street Journal)

 

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