The seductive, dangerous magic of numbers

In Ray’s latest feature article for the British Medical Journal he explores medicine’s obsession with relying on “proxy” measures of health – things like cholesterol or bone mineral density numbers.

As the article explains, “…the grand assumption that helping a person’s numbers will automatically improve their health, is a delusion as dangerous as it is seductive.”

Yale University Professor Harlan Krumholz says we’re all being far too “cavalier” in our reliance on numbers, and evidence-based medicine architect Professor Gordon Guyatt calls for a new approach that focuses on improving people’s health, not their numbers.

You can read the BMJ feature for free here

Pharmaville – the latest fad in on-line gaming

In Ray’s latest column in the British Medical Journal, we learn about Pharmaville, an idea for a new web-based social networking game, where players develop and sell medicines to make life perfect, where dubstep plays in the strip clubs, and where those found guilty of misleading the public face the possibilty of mild professional censure. You can read the BMJ column here

We need to be wary about new disease definitions – BMJ editor

The editor of the British Medical Journal, Dr Fiona Godlee warns of the need to be wary of new definitions of disease, and calls on doctors to make their patients more aware of debates around where we draw the line between health and illness.

Dr Godlee’s editorial  ‘Who should define disease?‘ is well worth a read [ReferenceBMJ 2011; 342:d2974]

And you can see here the fantasic BMJ cover May 14 2011 which is based on Ray’s latest BMJ article, detailed below

A new way to decide who’s healthy and who’s sick

In Ray’s latest article in the British Medical Journal, he exposes how many of the panels which draw the line between health and sickness comprise experts with financial ties to drug companies.

The article contains explosive comments from the psychiatrist who chaired the taskforce which wrote the DSM IV – the globally influential psychiatrists’ manual of diseases – and it explores ways in which fresh new independent panels might be put together.

An interview with Ray about the BMJ feature can be seen here at The Conversation, discussing how doctors with financial ties to drug companies, may have – in their enthusiasm to treat us – classified far too many healthy people as being sick.

And Ray’s short ABC Health Report presentation on the topic can be heard here

Feeling lazy? Take the test

Do you ever feel lazy? You may have Motivational Deficiency Disorder, the condition uncovered five years ago today. One in five people suffer from this disorder and many don’t know they have it. This scientifically validated new test (p^0.3) will only take 30 seconds: it could save your life.*

Take the test

1. Have you ever felt lazy or apathetic? Yes/No

2. Do you have a family history of laziness? Yes/No

3. Do you ever feel tired on a Monday morning? Yes/No

4. Have you ever considered hiring someone to clean the gutters? Yes/No

5. Are you breathing? Yes/No

If you answered yes to just one question – you should see your doctor today!
You can also view a short video here

*Argos L, Henry D, Cassels A, et. al., Journal of Motivational Medicine, 2011 April 1;4:78-92