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Anti-science and Covid non-belief rife in North America

The level of vitriol of the anti-vax movement I witnessed in Canada was on a different scale to that experienced in Ireland A recent visit to see family in Saskatchewan, Canada, highlighted just how well we have done in Ireland with full Covid-19 vaccine rates running at above 92 per cent. In contrast, just as…

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A day the world will never forget

The 20th anniversary of 9/11 was reached a few days ago. The recent suicide bombings at Kabul airport were a horrible reminder of the activities of Al Qaeda and their equally extreme successors, the Islamic State (ISIS).The anniversary of 9/11 brings back some vivid memories for me. I was in Toronto, on assignment for The…

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The problem of media misrepresentation

The pandemic has made it clear that the aims of the media and those of science are often very different It has been interesting to be involved in the Covid-19 pandemic as a journalist and a doctor. Over the course of the last 18 months or so the playing pitch has changed. At the start…

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Unlocking doctors’ dress codes

Covid-19 has moved the goalposts significantly in the sartorial stakes Dress codes in medicine have long been considered important. Hippocrates advised doctors to be “clean in person” and “well dressed”. Mind you, he also recommended that they be plump and that they cover themselves with “sweet-smelling unguents”. Covid-19 has moved the goalposts significantly in the…

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Looking to the stars for career guidance?

New research has examined what your star sign says about your choice of medical career Did your specialty choose you or did you choose your specialty? A recent paper in the Postgraduate Medical Journal (PMJ) addressed this question, but with an astrological twist. Thought to have been established 2,400 years ago in Babylon, horoscopes in…

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Decorating Christmas through the ages

Seasonal traditions have provided solace in difficult times 2020 has been a year of massive societal change. Our lives have been turned upside down due to Covid-19. On the plus side, one of the welcome effects has been to make us focus more on traditions. There is no better time than Christmas for tradition. As…

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High public anxiety over Covid-19 no excuse to abuse doctors

Recently released figures provide further evidence that the unified front the country presented in the early days of the Covid-19 crisis is over I was really taken aback by the findings in a recent Medical Practitioner Society (MPS) survey that over a third of doctors said they have suffered verbal or physical abuse from patients,…

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Getting to the heart of jargon in medicine

Patients who listen to medical slang will learn a lot about their doctors’ attitudes towards them The advent of coronavirus has led to a noticeable rise in the use of jargon. Lockdowns, reproduction number and herd immunity are just some examples of terms that have shot to prominence in 2020. The same phenomenon occurred during…

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The State Epidemiologist who inspires tattoos

Is Sweden’s approach to Covid-19 a cautionary tale, or a realistic response in the absence of a vaccine? I doubt that even the most ardent fan of our Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Tony Holohan, has his image tattooed on their arm. But given the chasm between his approach to Covid-19 and that of Swedish…

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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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