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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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  • 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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    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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