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The improbable side of medical research

The connection between eyebrows and narcissism was just one example of the delightfully eccentric research highlighted at this year’s Ig Nobel awards One of my favourite events of the year is the annual Ig Nobel awards. Hosted by the journal Annals of Improbable Research, the Igs are an annual exercise in irreverence that celebrate scientific…

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What we can learn from pandemics past

Some reactions to the Black Death were not dissimilar to how people are acting during Covid-19 As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, it is interesting to observe how people react differently to the threat. On the one hand, there are the diligent mask-wearers and social isolationists, who even after the initial lockdown phase have continued a…

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On the moral responsibility of medicine

The profession has a collective duty to ensure that the next generation of doctors is educated and that medical research occurs How far does our responsibility as doctors to protect and promote health go? Responsibility is complex: In medicine, obligations such as acting in patients’ best interests (beneficence) or avoiding harm (non-maleficence) are more stringent…

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Masking our fears

Society’s response to mask-wearing tells us a lot about ourselves One of the (many) interesting things about Covid-19 has been the emergence of mask-wearing as a signal of political allegiance — with the left choosing to wear masks, and the right refusing to. In the US, this has been taken to ridiculous levels by the…

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Dreamtime in Dromineer

Life during lockdown was strange and difficult, but there were good times too Did it really happen? Yes, there really was a padlock on the Dromineer playground. And yes, the gardaí were at the crossroads, stopping cars and sending people home. The ‘local police’ were out too, telling visitors they weren’t welcome. It was a…

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The Covid-19 language explosion

From ‘covidiot’ to ‘coronacoaster’, the pandemic has thrown up almost a dictionary’s worth of new words As readers are aware, one of my nerdy interests is in language and especially quirks of language. Show me a neologism and I’m away! Covid-19 has led to an explosion of new words and phrases, both in English and…

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An evidence-base for e-consultations

More research is required before telemedicine becomes mainstream practice First of all, a confession: Bless me, for I have sinned. ‘What is Houston going to admit to’, you are wondering. Hopefully a scandal of tabloid proportions? Or maybe, after years of personal probity, the true nature of the man is about to be revealed? Well,…

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A call for intellectual humility

Dr Danielle Ofri’s new book does not necessarily play to her undoubted writing skills When Dr Danielle Ofri opened her talk at the dotMD 2018 conference, she did so with the story from one of her books about a French woman with Stage 3 lung cancer. The patient, doctor and wider team were in the…

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The long, tough road ahead

An exit strategy from social distancing restrictions is necessary and the Government needs to outline how this will be achieved And so our strange lives continue unchecked. Working remotely, not sleeping very well, and the continued absence of non-Covid patients are our daily lot. We really need a clearly laid-out exit strategy from lockdown at…

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A callous concept for Covid-19 control

The promotion of herd immunity is ageist and borders on euthanasia The coronavirus pandemic keeps throwing up unusual reactions. The most politically extreme have, of course, emerged from the US and the UK. One or two are clearly ageist and even border on the promotion of euthanasia. A press briefing by the UK Chief Scientific…

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