Interesting articles and things to watch from the last few days:

  • CME, Continuing Medical Education, at Stanford funded by Pfizer – Health Blog – WSJ — Is a $3 million grant from Pfizer the answer to creating continuing medical education courses that are free of industry influence? Yes, according to Stanford’s med school. In a statement this morning, Stanford said the three-year grant comes with “no conditions, and the company will not be involved in developing the curriculum.” (and of course if they tell us it’s not a conflict of interest it’s not, right?)
  • Psychiatry, freedom, and noninterference « Urocyon’s MeanderingsI’m largely opposed to the way psychiatry has been operating, not because of the drugs themselves, but because of the coercion and the way pretty much all aspects of human behavior get pathologized. I get very frustrated and sad that so many people do not know that there are other options, sometimes far more effective ways of dealing with their emotional distress. I think that a lot of very understandable–and potentially useful–distress from social conditions is treated as an individual problem, to be medicated and/or talk-therapied into submission, and that this saps a lot of strength and attention away from the need for real change.
  • ‘Mindfulness therapy pushes the bad thoughts to one side’ – Times Online — After years struggling with the ongoing trauma of depression and rising doses of antidepressants, Kathy Andrews, 48, found out about mindfulness therapy and spoke to her GP for a referral. Since taking the course more than two years ago, she has yet to suffer a relapse and has been able to cut down her medication. (I’d say “pushing bad thoughts to one side is a poor explanation of what mindfulness does for folks, but that’s journalism for you — the fact is meditation helps heal)
  • The Children of Cyberspace: Old Fogies by Their 20s –
  • Why Genes Aren’t Destiny – TIME — The answer lies beyond both nature and nurture. Bygren’s data — along with those of many other scientists working separately over the past 20 years — have given birth to a new science called epigenetics. At its most basic, epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity that do not involve alterations to the genetic code but still get passed down to at least one successive generation. These patterns of gene expression are governed by the cellular material — the epigenome — that sits on top of the genome, just outside it (hence the prefix epi-, which means above). It is these epigenetic “marks” that tell your genes to switch on or off, to speak loudly or whisper. It is through epigenetic marks that environmental factors like diet, stress and prenatal nutrition can make an imprint on genes that is passed from one generation to the next.
  • FRONTLINE: digital nation: press release | PBS — Over a single generation, the Web and digital media have remade nearly every aspect of modern culture, transforming the way we work, learn and connect in ways that we’re only beginning to understand. FRONTLINE producer Rachel Dretzin (Growing Up Online) teams up with one of the leading thinkers of the digital age, Douglas Rushkoff (The Persuaders, Merchants of Cool), to continue to explore life on the virtual frontier. The film is the product of a unique collaboration with visitors to the Digital Nation Web site, who for the past year have been able to react to the work in progress and post their own stories online. Dretzin and her team report from the front lines of digital culture — from love affairs blossoming in virtual worlds, to the thoroughly wired classrooms of the future, to military bases where the Air Force is fighting a new form of digital warfare. Along the way, they begin to map the critical ways that technology is transforming us — and what we may be learning about ourselves in the process.

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