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Absolutely Maybe

Absolutely Maybe

Evidence and uncertainties about medicine and life
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    Hilda Bastian Hilda Bastian likes thinking about bias, uncertainty and how we come to know all sorts of thing. Her day job is making clinical effectiveness research accessible. And she explores the limitless comedic potential of clinical epidemiology at her cartoon blog, Statistically Funny. Follow on Twitter @hildabast.
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  • Long Overdue: Is the Question of Induction of Labor and Cesarean Section Settled?

    Cartoon of pregnancy etiquette for childbirth advice

    I used to think there was no question about this. Induction was the prologue to a long, hard labor that often wouldn’t go well. And cesarean section was the (un)natural logical end of that. Simples. In the early 1970s, induction got out of hand - over half of labors in the UK were induced. Then came a [...]

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    Science: Add Humor and Stir – Wocka, Wocka, Wocka!

    Cartoon of Angus doing stand-up PhD Defense

    Laughter can be a joyous shortcut between people. It’s relaxing, and a playful way to engage our minds. Science, on the other hand, can be tough to explain and digest. Traditional methods can be hard-going. So many of us reach for humor when we talk science. Comedy makes things accessible. Except, of course, when it [...]

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    Alzheimer Disease: How Soon Would You Want To Know?

    Alice meets a new doctor who wants to screen for Alzheimer disease on her 25th birthday

    Have you been forgetful lately? Any difficulty concentrating? Trouble recalling names? Answer “yes” to even one question like that, and there are some who want you to head to a clinic for memory screening. And it’s not because there is a good new treatment for dementia. If only there were. Therapy for dementia remains a [...]

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    Is a Baby Aspirin a Day the New Apple?

    Cartoon of a shelf of aspirin

    His first big clue came when people started hemorrhaging after chewing gum. Lawrence Craven did tonsil and adenoid surgery in his office. And it usually went well. But in the mid-1940s, “an alarming number of hemorrhages were evidenced in disturbing frequency,” he said. He figured it was the aspirin chewing gum people were using for [...]

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    Resveratrol Hangover: Waking Up After Hypothesis Bingeing

    Cartoon of a tottering house of cards

    Outbreaks of science myth-busting can be a bit of a puzzlement. The science behind a popular headline-maker might be a tottering house of cards, but it can be impressively sturdy nevertheless. New studies might re-arrange it a little here or there, but it doesn’t usually topple. Only those studies that reinforce the narrative seem to [...]

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    Vacation: What’s the Point?

    Cartoon - what did you do on vacation? Went cherry-picking

    It’s not really news when a journalist goes cherry-picking for juicy tidbits to fit a narrative, is it? We all fall into the trap of going too easy on the things we want to believe. So what is it about a piece about vacations in Vox that got me rushing to the keyboard? Science journalist [...]

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    Science in the Abstract: Don’t Judge a Study by its Cover

    Cartoon in a lab - You said to do an abstract

    A competition for attention lies at the heart of the scientific enterprise. And the abstract is its “blurb.” A scientific abstract is a summary used to attract readers to an article and to get a piece of research accepted for a conference presentation. Other than the title, it’s the part of an article that is [...]

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    A Viewer’s Guide to Mammography Evidence Ping-Pong

    Cartoon of woman saying you bet I have questions

    You could get a very sore neck watching all the claims and counter-claims about mammography zing back and forth. It’s like a lot of evidence ping-pong matches. There are teams with strongly held opinions at the table, smashing away at opposing arguments based on different interpretations of the same data. Meanwhile, women are being advised [...]

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    The Disease Prevention Illusion: A Tragedy in Five Parts

    Cartoon of an early bird catching no worms

    Act I: An ounce of “prevention.” “Prevention is better than cure.” Aphorisms like this go back a long way. And most of our dramatic triumphs against disease come from prevention: clean water, making roads and workplaces safer, antiseptic routines in hospital, reducing smoking, immunization, stemming the spread of HIV. Many of our cultural superstitions and greatest [...]

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    (Hi)stories our bodies tell: Experiencing racism (Guest Post)

    Sharecropper by Elizabeth Catlett

    Guest post by Michelle Munyikwa I am currently still reveling in Black History Month. Yes, it is no longer February. But I hope to retain that mindfulness, grasping onto this moment each year that forces us to pay attention to the stories of black peoples across America and draws into stark relief how histories have [...]

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