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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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  • Moving On, Open Access and Science Communication Impact

    Cartoon of ship-wrecked epidemiologists starting a journal

    Sometimes, all the implications of a new commitment can become clear in a single, blinding flash. But other times, realization creeps up slowly at first, then gathers momentum. A commitment to open access science has been like that for me. First there was the decision to not submit any of my own articles to journals [...]

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    In a Lather Over Triclosan? Thumbs Down to Fear-Mongering Soap Operas

    Stop carrying on so we can stay calm poster

    Another day, another fuss about an animal study. This time, it’s a cancer scare around a common antibacterial in soaps: triclosan. “The dirty side of soap,” says the headline on the university’s press release. “Triclosan, a common antimicrobial in personal hygiene products, causes liver fibrosis and cancer in mice.” The title of the journal article [...]

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    Generation Open: Sneak Peek Into Science’s Future at OpenCon 2014

    Cartoon of scientists at a control panel setting the default to open

    “What is your generation going to do? You don’t have a choice. You will make a mark. Will it be the mark of apathy? Or will you make the internet what it could be?” Michael Carroll is a Professor of Law and one of the founders of the Creative Commons. He was welcoming over a [...]

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    Chewing Gum and the Long Slow Decline of a Miserable Surgical Tradition

    Cartoon of bedside gum dispensing machine

    Nil by mouth, they say. But your tongue is so dry it sticks to the roof of your mouth. Your throat is sore from having a breathing tube down it for a couple of hours. You’d give anything for a soothing sip of water or an ice chip. All this, the anesthesia’s wearing off, and [...]

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    Airborne? Memories of Another Virus and Panic’s Rise and Fall

    Cartoon of informed trust as the cure for panic

    She started by asking me something like, “We understand you know a lot about AIDS, is that right?” “A fair bit, I guess. Why?” It was 20 years ago, in Sydney – before the antiretroviral drug combinations arrived. It was the year AIDS became the leading cause of death for people aged 25 to 44 [...]

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    Teenage Mutant Ninja Journal! Celebrating an Open Access Birthday

    Cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Journal

    “The world of medical journals needs a fresh infusion of idealism.” And with those words from PLOS founders, Mike Eisen, Pat Brown, and Harold Varmus, the first issue of PLOS Medicine launched 10 years ago today. Its “mutant” superpower was being open access. Then – as now – it was bold, idealistic, and an active [...]

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    5 Shortcuts to Keep Data on Risks in Perspective

    Cartoon in Heaven's Department of Epidemiology

    “Risky” is definitely not a one-size-fits-all concept. It’s not just that we aren’t all at the same level of every risk. Our tolerance of risk-taking in different situations can be wildly different, too. Our judgments about our own vulnerability and how we feel about what we might gain or lose can make a risk loom [...]

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    The Hepatitis C Escalation: Baby Boomer Ripple Effects

    Cartoon from the future

    There’s never been anything quite like this. The latest ripple effect of the 1945-65 baby boom will be a drug bill so high, that paying it, says Australia’s advisors, “is not possible.” How high is this bill going to be? One drug, sofosbuvir (Sovaldi), approved by the FDA last December, reached sales of $5.8 billion by [...]

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    Blink! This Contact Lens Post Could Make Your Eyes Water

    Cartoon of rose-colored glasses for reading about contact lens risks

    He would dab on a bit of cocaine to anesthetize his eyes first. Then, to prevent air getting in, Müller would insert the lenses with his eyes under water. And they would help his myopia … for about half an hour. Wearing them much longer was intolerable. It was 1889 and August Müller was a 25-year-old [...]

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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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