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The arts in medicine

The art of people with chronic diseases, such as epilepsy, can enhance our understanding of living with illness Let’s begin with an ending: “The art of persons with epilepsy helps us understand what it means to have epilepsy, providing windows into its complexity and comorbidities.” That is Steven C Schacter’s conclusion to his exploration of…

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If everyone felt that way

The role of saturated fat in the diet and cholesterol in the blood is in need of re-evaluation On 13 March this year, the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres wrote a piece titled ‘Covid-19: We will come through this together’ https://www.un.org/en/coronavirus/covid-19-we-will-come-through-together. I thought of Joseph Heller and Arthur Koestler. Though separated in time…

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When everybody is an expert…

‘Science’ does not refer to one thing, and neither does ‘the public’ In a piece for The Critic (28 May 2020,  https://thecritic.co.uk/the-ecstasy-of-sanctimony/), a writer called Seymour Silk defends his neighbour Dominic Cummings (top tip: select ‘safe search’ before Googling those names together) and the excursion the latter undertook with his family from London to Durham.…

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The smell of human adventure

Who is brave enough to tackle Everest’s faecal time bomb? In the June 2013 issue of National Geographic, Mark Jenkins wrote of Mount Everest that the two standard routes, the northeast and the southeast ridges, “are not only dangerously crowded, but also disgustingly polluted, with garbage leaking out of the glaciers and pyramids of human…

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The annual outbreak of veisalgia on New Year’s Day

Descriptions of the effects of alcohol in medical literature are many and varied hroughout 2019 I had been deferential to my low tolerance for alcohol. So, what led me to deem it polite to accept our neighbours’ New Year party invitation, but impolite to stop them filling and re-filling my glass with liqueur the colour…

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Environmentalism is a cry from the soul

Public services, such as healthcare, should understand the impact they have on the environment In May 1982, after Argentina had invaded the Falklands, the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher offered this insight to the Scottish Conservative Party conference: “It is exciting to have a real crisis on your hands, when you have spent half your…

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Separating the scientists from the paranoid

Those who seriously evaluate the merits of vaccination should not be grouped with anti-vaxxers Olshansky and Hayflick noted in AIMS Public Health (2017; 4:127-138) that vaccines derived from the WI-38 cell strain had treated or averted 4.5 billion cases of poliomyelitis, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, shingles, adenovirus, rabies and hepatitis A infections worldwide, saving…

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Pressing pause on the gluttony of TV sport

It’s time to tackle the pandemic of TV sport over-consumption and get our running shoes on One July day in 1972 I called at my mate’s, ready for a ‘rake-about’. His mother answered the door. “Our Davy’s watchin’ the ‘lympics… ” a slight pause, “… in colour.” Did her narrowing eyes betray a triumphant gloat,…

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A light that fills places you never thought to look

The death of a friend causes George Winter to contemplate the nature of palliative care and the radiant solace that hospices can provide ccording to a Times obituary (15 July, 2005) for the modern hospice movement founder Dame Cicely Saunders (1918−2005), she had expressed a preference to die “with a cancer that gave due notice…

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Cracking the egg conundrum

The concept of a ‘settled science’ is flawed as it ignores the fact that the discipline is always in a state of flux, according to George Winter Nobody can eat 50 eggs,” says Dragline in Cool Hand Luke (1967). Well, Paul Newman’s eponymous character did… in an hour. The film highlights Luke’s clashes with prison-farm…

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