Economically Incorrect:

“Last week, ABC officially announced what many industry watchers had expected for several months: The late-night talk show Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher would be canceled, and replaced in the fall by a new entertainment program hosted by Comedy Central’s Jimmy Kimmel. When the news broke, most media reports pegged Politically Incorrect’s demise on Maher’s “unpatriotic” remarks in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Yet while there’s some truth to the notion, this interpretation ignores other, more powerful market forces that have worked to replace an important televised forum of political dissent with the latest incarnation of “must-sleaze” TV.” The American Prospect

US fighter pilots from the squadron that killed four Canadian troops in an April ‘friendly-fire’ mishap had complained of exhaustion to their commander shortly before the fatal accident, after they had misidentified a bombing target during a prior mission (over Iraq, where they were flying sorties over the southern no-fly zone as well as missions over Afghanistan). They asked for more rest, noting that official standards for the interval between missions were not being observed. Their concerns were dismissed and they were told to speak to the flight surgeon about amphetamines. Vancouver Sun

"Think X-Men for blogs…"

Blogtank is an experimental team weblog the purpose of which is to determine whether a group of bloggers from various professions and backgrounds can form a new kind of self-organizing consulting group for debate, research and discussion.” Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be anything captivating about it (yet?). Maybe you had to be there (I’m not.).

Found Letters from Kittyville. Some are quite funny, some poignant, some can’t be made heads or tails of.

Lessons From Madness: “Reviews of two books about mental illness: Mad in America by Robert Whitaker and Madness: A Brief History by Roy Porter… Dissimilar in style, approach, and size, the two works are surprisingly complementary. Porter provides a deft examination of how Western cultures from antiquity through modern times have tried to explain and treat insanity, while Whitaker probes in depth the mostly uncaring and usually ineffective way America has treated the “mad.” Here’s the important part about the “dirty little secret” of American medicine:

Though his book is ostensibly about “madness,” Whitaker delves into drug trials. In doing so, he raises broader questions about the “purity” of academic research and peer-reviewed publications, the standard by which the medical profession judges new findings. Whitaker describes how drug testing became part of a new, for-profit drug testing industry, with some community physicians, hit by the new strictures of managed care and looking for ways to supplement their incomes. Traditionally, academic researchers had conducted drug trials, a process that seemed to ensure impartiality since the studies were carefully designed to eliminate any bias. But the process was slow and delays were costly to drugmakers.

The Atlantic

Related: Medical journal statistics potentially “misleading”:

Reports of treatment trials in top international medical journals usually include only the most flattering statistical result, a new analysis reveals. This could mislead doctors and patients into believing a drug or procedure is more effective than it actually is, say researchers at the University of California, Davis.

Jim Nuovo and his team studied all randomised controlled trials with positive treatment results published in the British Medical Journal, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine and the Annals of Internal Medicine in 1989, 1992, 1995 and 1998. All 359 papers included the relatively favourable “relative risk reduction” – the percentage difference between the treatment and control group.

But only eight reported the “number needed to treat” – the number of people a doctor would need to treat before the drug prevented a bad outcome, such as stroke, heart attack or death. And only 18 included “absolute risk reduction” – the actual difference between the treatment results compared to the control group. New Scientist

And: Medical press releases may exaggerate results and fail to include study limitations:


Some medical press releases use formats that may exaggerate the perceived importance of findings and do not routinely highlight study limitations, according to DMS researchers in the June 5 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz.

Steven Woloshin, MD, and Lisa M. Schwartz, MD, of Dartmouth Medical School and the White River Junction Veterans Affairs Outcomes Group examined the medical press release process at several high-profile medical journals and reviewed recent releases to evaluate how study findings are presented and whether limitations and potential conflicts of interest are acknowledged.

While medical journals strive to ensure accuracy and the acknowledgment of limitations in articles, press releases may not reflect these efforts, say the authors. EurekAlert