Web Roundups

Web Gleanings 3

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Neurophilosophy posts on the BBC series, Blood and Guts: a History of Surgery. See the post for torrent links to the episodes. § Also from Neurophilosophy, excellent profiles of neurosurgery pioneer Harvey Cushing and researcher Wilder Penfield. § A review of Robert Darby’s A Surgical Temptation: The Demonization of the Foreskin and the Rise of Circumcision in Britain.

Disparities and disease
A report on the 17th International AIDS Conference in Mexico City in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). § Margaret Johnston and Anthony Fauci discuss the current prospects for an AIDS vaccine. § The NY Times reports on a CDC study finding that the rate of new HIV infections is three times higher in NYC than in the rest of the United States. § A new book in the California Series in Public Anthropology: Robert Thornton’s Unimagined Community: Sex, Networks, and AIDS in Uganda and South Africa. § Joao Biehl’s Will to Live: AIDS Therapies and the Politics of Survival, reviewed in American Ethnologist*, NEJM, and the Feminist Review; also see the book’s Introduction. § The WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health published its final report, a press release and interviews with the Commission Chair Sir Michael Marmot. § The Lancet carries an editorial* on the WHO report. § In Slate, Timothy Noah questions a recent argument made by sociologist Dalton Conley that the rich experience more stress than the poor.

Drugs and doctors
In the Atlantic Monthly Carl Elliott argues that beta blockers are performance enhancing drugs which paradoxically can level the playing field in certain sports. § At Scientific American an article on the problems encountering Pfizer’s nicotine replacement drug. § And the Wall Street Journal reports on the marketing of this drug, without using its name. § From India, a plan for post offices to sell medicine. § The medicalization of everyday life: an extract from physician and journalist Ben Goldacre’s book Bad Science, itself an outgrowth of his weekly column for the Guardian. § A review of Charles Barber’s Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry Is Medicating a Nation. § And an article on burnout among physicians and its systemic sources.

Maps and spaces
New Scientist reports on two recent studies demonstrating links between the genes and the geographic origins of Europeans. § Seed presents A Place for Science, a nice interactive map examining the spaces where researchers do their work. § Julie Salamon on religion in clinical spaces. § Tom Boellstorff’s book on living in a virtual space, Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human is reviewed in Nature and Metapsychology; discussed extensively at Savage Minds here, here and here; Boellstorff talks with Powell’s Books and Wisconsin Public Radio; the book’s first chapter can be read at the publisher’s site.

Politics I: the US presidential election
Scientific American poses a series of science policy questions for the two candidates. § Nature reports on the divisions within the Republican Party over human embryo research. § In The Nation, Joshua Kors reports on the failures of the VA.

Politics II: culture and mental illness
A NY Times article on the cultural shaping of delusions and the “Truman Show delusion” described by Joel Gold and Ian Gold, with additional commentary from Vaughan at Mind Hacks. § Emily Martin’s Bipolar Expeditions: Mania and Depression in American Culture reviewed in Metapsychology, Anthropology Quarterly*, the American Journal of Psychiatry*; also a great website associated with the book, full of resources and links. § A special issue of The American Prospect on the politics of mental illness, with articles on media representations, a memory-dampening drug for PTSD, the ethical quandaries posed by neuroimaging and more.

A review of Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. § In Bookforum, a review of two books on the food crisis: Swindled: The Dark History of Food Fraud, from Poisoned Candy to Counterfeit Coffee by Bee Wilson and Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis by Rowan Jacobsen. § And from the Guardian, a review of Carolyn Steel’s Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives and Paul Roberts’ The End of Food: The Coming Crisis in the World Food Industry. § Heather Paxson’s recent article on the “microbiopolitics” of raw-milk cheese, and her research project on artisanal cheesemaking.

Mind and body
The close links between the psychological and the somatic in IBS. § A new article in the Journal of Psychiatric Research* reports a long-acting placebo effect in patients with depression; see a discussion here. § Reviews of Anne Harrington’s excellent book The Cure Within: A History of Mind-Body Medicine in Metapsychology Reviews, the NY Times (written by Jerome Groopman), Salon, Slate, NEJM*; interviews with Harrington in the Boston Globe and on the Paula Gordon Show; and an excerpt from the book.

The ambitions and limits of science
In the Walrus, Melinda Wenner examines the inconclusive research on links between radio frequency radiation (particularly from cell phones) and cancer. § Twelve years after its publication, science journalist John Horgan revisits the thesis of his book, The End of Science: Facing The Limits Of Knowledge In The Twilight Of The Scientific Age. § Nature asks researchers to speculate on which technology will most transform our everyday lives in the next ten years. § 3 Quarks Daily links to a video of “Gene, Organism and Environment: Bad Metaphors and Good Biology,” a lecture by Richard Lewontin at UC Berkeley. § Nathan Schneider writes on the biologization of religion.

A Lancet commentary* on “Violence and the role of illness narratives.” § A review of Life in the Balance: A Physician’s Memoir of Life, Love and Loss With Parkinson’s Disease and Dementia by Thomas Graboys.

More on race and genomics
Following up on our recent post on this topic: At the Medical Humanities Blog, Daniel Goldberg links to a webcast on race and pharmacogenomics hosted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.