Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Informational Deficiency Disorder

and one way to beat it. Before I do my usual weekend disappearing act, I do want to encourage all you common rabble out there to read at least one medical journal, and the really great news, as I have pointed out before, is that you can do it for free.

Public Library of Science Medicine is linked on my sidebar. If you go to the home page this month you'll see a lot of boring looking technical stuff that you might not feel like reading, but do click on through to the current issue and see what's in the table of contents.

I've already discussed the piece on coverage of medical research in the corporate media, but there's more. Check out Ray Moynihan and friends on disease mongering, you know, making up diseases or extending their boundaries so we'll all realize that we have at least a few and rush out to get the pills to treat them. It's enough to give a guy Intermittent Explosive Disorder. Here's an important report from Australian television on Motivational Deficiency Disorder, which BTW is precisely what's causing me to disappear for the weekend. But I'm not going to take the pills because, well, I'm just not motivated.

David Bellinger discusses two studies published in the issue about the life long consequences of childhood lead exposure. These are quite disturbing and should have gotten much more attention than they have -- and we still need to be doing much more to prevent childhood lead poisoning. You can read the original studies too, if you like, which is the great thing about it. Bellinger can help you understand and interpret them, but you don't have to take his word for it, as you probably would if you read the public access material in the New England Journal of Medicine.

There is also a great deal of material of interest to health care providers, public health officials, and concerned lay people in poor countries -- people who can't afford to subscribe to most medical journals but who can get important information from PLoS.

Even better, you can talk back -- there are reader forums and comments on the articles.

So get in the habit. Develop PLoS addiction disorder.

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