Sunday, October 26, 2008

the placebo affect

I heard this breaking news the other day on the radio, but thanks again to Azúcar for sending a link to this report about how half of American doctors surveyed admitted to prescribing placebos. (I'm especially happy for the link because this is where I tell you I almost have a crush on Dr. Nancy. She and John Stossel are my most trusted purveyors of news and information. They could tell me just about anything and I would believe it.)

"It's a disturbing finding," said Franklin G. Miller, director of the research ethics program at the U.S. National Institutes Health and one of the study authors. "There is an element of deception here which is contrary to the principle of informed consent."

"Doctors may be under a lot of pressure to help their patients, but this is not an acceptable shortcut," said Irving Kirsch, a professor of psychology at the University of Hull in Britain who has studied the use of placebos.

When I first heard this, I was appalled. But I know doctors are under incredible pressure to prescribe. I've seen it. Given the overuse of antibiotics and the state of the new superbugs I see a place for prescribing a placebo to someone who insists on not leaving the office without a prescription in hand (you may think I exaggerate, but believe me, I do not.)

And here's another thing, what about "informed consent?" Does everyone really have that anyway? There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who will take whatever the doctor gives them without question--in which case it really doesn't matter--and those who will ask the doctor and then their pharmacist and then still march right home and Google whatever it was they were prescribed before they take it--in which case a doctor likely wouldn't get away with prescribing a placebo anyway.

And finally,
In the survey, doctors were asked if they would recommend a sugar pill for patients with chronic pain if it had been shown to be more effective than no treatment. Nearly 60 percent said they would.

While I am one of those who want information and want to be in the know, I see the value in the potential psychological effect of a placebo. In cases where there is no other treatment available, I think using a placebo could be considered a humane approach (unless some pharmaceutical company is making big bucks off your px.

What say you?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Halloween Public Service News

One time, a while ago, I took Lil ~J and some neighborhood girls out trick or treating. I bullied a neighbor into going into his own child's stash because they were handing out mini yogurts. MINI YOGURTS. I told him "I can either teach these girls how to egg your house, or you can teach these girls that you are a good neighbor."
The Ten Most Disappointing Treats for Trick or Treaters

"Dentists and orthodontists should not be allowed to celebrate Halloween if they're going to get all tooth doctory on us. Do not bring your work home with you, folks! We all have a personal responsibility to brush, and maybe some of us will forget, but your complimentary bristles on a stick (instead of a Snickers) will not help us remember. It will make us despise you and your trade."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This just in from Azúcar

Speaking of news that strikes a nerve...

Apparently I'm not the only parent dealing with dress code issues.

* Last month, Shabraia Dodd, 15, was charged with assault on a police officer after she was arrested for wearing a jacket to East Ridge High School in East Ridge, Tenn. Shabraia acknowledged that she was in violation of the dress code, which prohibits wearing jackets in class, but she said she was recovering from a cold and had offered to remove the jacket after class.

She said she refused to be handcuffed “because I didn’t commit any crime.”

Frankly, I would have gone the "Arrest me!" route (as quoted by another mother in an incident mentioned elsewhere in this story) over that one.

While the dress code giving me fits isn't this extreme (yet), it's just as inane. One day my daughter got sent to the office three times (and cleared each time) over the same issue. The collared shirt was one thing, but there are teachers who send kids to the office if the shirt is worn on the inside instead of the outside of another shirt. Another teacher who insists the shirt must be buttoned up (Hello?!). And there are children who are non-compliant who seem untouchable while others who get sent to the office for non-issues--wasting valuable instruction time.

The worst part for me, as a parent, is the school's non-compliance with their own enforcement terms. The first step for any violation (real or perceived) is supposed to be a call to the parents. I have instructed my daughter (who is in compliance with the code they approved, just not always the tiny details they are making up as they go) to tell administrators to please feel free to call me. Not once have they called.

What's up with that?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Apparently, Everyone is as Tired of This as I am.

Note: When I responded to CW's invite to this awesome news group, I let her know that my attention span was more inclined to cover "News" than, you know, News. You have been warned.

Can I tell you how happy I am about this?

"We felt it was very important to release the film after the presidential debates but before the election," Rothenberg said. "We felt interest in the election would be at its height, and interest in George W. Bush would be much greater now than after January. We feel we have a good corridor over the next two weeks."

(Or not.)

Politics aside, my hatred of Oliver Stone movies aside, the simple fact that America would rather see Chihuahuas or Marky Mark than W. makes me extraordinarily happy. Because it proves to me that I am not the only one who is SO STINKING SICK OF POLITICS.

Yo Quiero Taco Bell.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Do, re, me, me, ME

This article, The me, me, me generation: Have youths in America bought into 'entitlement' mentality?, struck a huge raw nerve with me today.

"I see no evidence that today's young people feel much attachment to duty or to group cohesion. Instead ... young people have been consistently taught to put their own needs first and to focus on feeling good about themselves. This is not an attitude conducive to following social rules or favoring the group's needs over the individual's."--Jean M. Twenge

Twenge agrees with the Harris boys that a cultural shift has occurred in recent decades that has created a mythical adolescence that should be free from responsibility or hard work — and that they should have everything they want without necessarily working for it.

"Kids didn't raise themselves, they didn't make this stuff up. Sometimes people think I'm blaming young people. That's not the way it happened," Twenge said.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Guess who came to dinner?

Granted, it was scripted, but I so much prefer it when the gloves come off and people--especially these two people--can laugh at themselves.

This little exchange was better than all the debates put together.

"I can't shake that feeling that some people here are pulling for me," Mr. McCain said, turning to the far side of the stage. "I'm delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary."

"I was originally told the venue would be Yankee Stadium. Can somebody tell me what happened to the Greek columns that I requested?" Mr. Obama said. Later, he added: "I do love the Waldorf Astoria. I hear from the doorstep you can see all the way to the Russian Tea Room."

"No matter what differences or divisions or arguments we are having right now, we ultimately belong to something bigger and more lasting than political parties," Mr. Obama said. "We belong to a community, we share a country, we are all children of God. In this country there are millions of fellow citizens, our brothers and sisters, who need us very much - especially now."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Does your brain need a hit of happy?

Apparently I'm not fat, I'm just dopamine receptorally challenged.

"Don't get your brain used to it," he said of non-nutritious food. "I would not buy Ho Hos for lunch every day because the more you eat, the more you crave.--Dr. Eric Stice"

(For the record, I thought the study was interesting, but when I got to that last quote I just had to ask, "He had to conduct a study to figure that out? Really?")

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I stole it from Azúcar

The link, not the money...

So where did all the money go?

"The banks and investors holding all those mortgage backed investments are also big losers, now that millions of homeowners are defaulting on their loans. The winners there are all the folks who profited from the lending boom. The mortgage brokers collected their fees and commissions on those mortgages, lenders took a slice when they sold them to Wall Street, which collected fees for packaging all them and selling them to investors. When the music stopped, there weren’t enough chairs. So if you're holding this mortgage backed paper, you’re going to have a tough time finding a chair to sit on."--John W. Schoen