» Media Where the World Finds Bioethics Sat, 28 Feb 2015 01:30:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Lying, Bullshitting, and Atul Gawande Mon, 23 Feb 2015 11:00:44 +0000 by J.S. Blumenthal-Barby, Ph.D.

Atul Gawande: “I came on board after she got diagnosed with that second cancer. And in my mind I was thinking ‘I wouldn’t offer this surgery because the lung cancer is going to take her life.’ And yet I didn’t feel I could say that to you. I think we started talking about the experimental therapy that you all were hoping to get on with the trial for the lung caner. And remember saying something I sort of regret, which was that ‘maybe that sort of experimental therapy will work for the thyroid cancer too.’ [laughs and shakes head] I said that.

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The Oscars: Hollywood’s Biggest Night and Why it Matters to Medicine and Public Health Mon, 16 Feb 2015 01:53:28 +0000 by Macey Henderson and Jennifer Chevinsky

The Oscars, or the glamorous Academy Awards, are known as the biggest night for Hollywood’s actors and for its big ratings for the mass media. For days following this gala, the media reports on the outfits worn, Oscars won, and perhaps most passionately, they begin to critique the process and decisions of the prestigious American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (i.e. “The Academy”).  But why should the medical and public health community care about the Academy, the big name nominees, or the ultimate winners?…

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(Golden) Global Change and LGBT Rights Thu, 15 Jan 2015 12:05:35 +0000 ]]> 0 Striking the Balance Between Population Guidelines and Patient Primacy Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:34:06 +0000 ]]> 0 Dr. Fauci or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Hate the Media’s Coverage of Ebola Wed, 29 Oct 2014 01:30:46 +0000 by Kayhan Parsi, JD, PhD

Although the Ebola virus is not ubiquitous, media coverage of it certainly is. A quick Google search of Ebola results in 37,700,000 hits. By comparison, Googling Obama results in 34,200,000 hits (although googling Obama and Ebola together results in 91,800,000 hits). Media coverage of Ebola has displaced many other news stories over the last few weeks. WNYC’s On the Media has tried to temper the over-the-top media coverage. They even posted a Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook.…

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Fear and Loathing in Liberia Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:31:43 +0000 ]]> 0 Fever Pitch Thu, 09 Oct 2014 11:42:35 +0000 ]]> 0 Can Social Media Save Us from the “Spiral of Silence?” Tue, 09 Sep 2014 13:37:06 +0000 ]]> 0 Taking the Icy Plunge (Or Not) Thu, 14 Aug 2014 12:16:06 +0000 ]]> 0 Big Bad Ebola Tue, 12 Aug 2014 19:15:13 +0000 ]]> 0 Lessons from France: Decision-Making At the End-of-Life Tue, 12 Aug 2014 08:27:06 +0000 by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

In the United States, the notion of autonomy is held in high regard. Since the development of patient’s rights in the early 1970s, the notion that an individual has the capacity of self-governance is a cornerstone of medical ethics and a standard of medical care. But that idea has not always been held. In the early and middle parts of the 20th Century, patients were often not told about terminal diagnoses. The joke about doctors curing through the words, “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” derives from the practice that patients were not only not told about their conditions, but were also given treatments without any discussion of what the drugs would do (or not do).…

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Media Sensationalism and Medical Practice: Doctors Are Examining Your Genitals for a Good Reason Mon, 11 Aug 2014 13:03:45 +0000 ]]> 0 Do OkCupid and Facebook experiment on vulnerable populations? Mon, 04 Aug 2014 18:25:10 +0000 by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

A few months ago Facebook announced that some Facebook users were a part of a 2012 experiment. In the experiment Facebook altered the number of negative and positive posts and photos that appeared in users’ newsfeed. In a paper documenting the results of the study, authors noted that by changing what users saw in their feed, Facebook was able to alter moods, emotions, and the kind of posts that people posted. The study was meant to be an experiment in online social interactions and emotional connections.…

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Day or Night: Ethics Depends on Time Fri, 01 Aug 2014 07:19:28 +0000 by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Is that shirt the cashier forget to ring up a bonus or do you point out the oversight? Do you report your peer for being an impaired physician or just look the other way when she drinks? Cut your $20 million pay as a CEO or “layoff” 10,000 workers?

When dealing with ethical issues like these your first step may be to watch the clock. A study published last year found that people are more moral in the afternoon than in the mornings.…

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AIN’T JUST THE MEAT IT IS ALSO THE MOTION: CONSENT MATTERS! Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:18:43 +0000 “But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Arthur. “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.'”

                           –Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Any apologia for Facebook’s recent behavioral study has to address one issue head on: that of informed consent. Informed consent is the bedrock upon which the ethics of all biomedical and behavioral research on humans rests.…

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Scientist’s Experiment in Fundraising Mon, 10 Feb 2014 23:39:30 +0000 0 Bioethics Expertise In The Media of Public Opinion Mon, 27 Jan 2014 09:16:13 +0000 by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Over the last few months the bioethics wires have been ablaze with conversations about the McMath and Munoz cases. Much of the internal (to bioethics) furor has been over the lack of understanding of death by the public and the media. A thread of debate has been whether those in bioethics reached out enough to journalists and the media to help them to be more accurate in reporting and to educate the public. Bioethics has always had a complicated relationship with the media—those in the field are often sought out for commentary on current events, and those who do are often criticized for reducing complex issues into sound bites.…

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Distinguishing Science from Nonsense Tue, 31 Dec 2013 21:18:46 +0000 by Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.

As Americans enter 2014 there is grave concern among our political leaders that we are lagging behind other nations in terms of our children’s’ scientific literacy.  This past December an international survey confirmed—too many American kids don’t understand science and they continue to fall behind children from other nations, many much poorer than we are in science and math skills.

Students in the United States slipped deeper in the last international science literacy rankings amid fast-growing competition abroad. …

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“Time To Die” Means Time to Talk Wed, 13 Nov 2013 07:35:50 +0000 by Craig M. Klugman, Ph.D.

Media images of dying surround us everyday. In an average hour of dramatic television, bodies fly across the screen as they are shot, knifed, bled, disintegrated, run over, and even decapitated. Heroes in these shows regularly kill the bad guys and in one case, the hero is the bad guy as serial murderer. And that’s before the news comes on.

While we are surrounded by death in our entertainment, these depictions have been blamed for numbing us to mortality and make us less likely to stare death in the face.…

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Media Meld: Science, Credit and Peer-Review Wed, 04 Sep 2013 15:43:42 +0000 by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Last week, a research team at the University of Washington announced what they jokingly refered to as a “Vulcan mind meld.” For those of you who are not Star Trek aficionados, that fictional process is where a Vulcan can reach into the mind of another Vulcan or human to understand and read that other mind. In this real experiment, a subject wearing an electrode-filled cap thinks about moving a finger and across the lab, another student wearing a similar cap involuntarily moves a finger to press a button on a keyboard.…

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A new spin on identity theft Thu, 01 Aug 2013 20:16:32 +0000 Andrea Kalfoglou, Ph.D.

A few years ago (2011), Facebook suggested that I “friend” a member of the bioethics community.  After all, 42 of my other Facebook “friends” were also linked to Dr. Daniel Sulmasy.  I had worked for Dan on a study over a decade ago, and we kept up at the annual ASBH conferences.

In retrospect, there were a number of oddities about his Facebook page.  He had amassed 724 “friends,” and was married to someone named Deborah.  As a Franciscan Friar, I knew he had taken a vow of celibacy, but it had been a while since we had talked, and I thought, well, things change. …

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100th Issue Anniversary Editorial Mon, 14 Jan 2013 23:16:20 +0000 16 Spending on food advertising to kids fell in ’09 Fri, 21 Dec 2012 20:55:38 +0000 0 Robin Roberts’ illness raises questions about extent of coverage Wed, 26 Sep 2012 01:42:24 +0000 0 Professionalism: Social media mishaps Wed, 11 Jul 2012 23:50:11 +0000 0 “The Descendants”: The Bioethics Movie That Wasn’t Wed, 13 Jun 2012 13:26:37 +0000 Okay, I am probably one of the last people in the United States (no, probably the world) to watch the movie “The Descendants”. I had heard a lot about it, not only just from Clooney devotees or at Oscar time, but from scores of people who dubbed it a “bioethics movie.” So finally I decided to sit down for 2 hours with Mr. Clooney and give “The Descendants” a try.

At the end of the film (and actually throughout the entire film) all I kept asking myself was one simple question: “What would have happened if Matt King’s (played by G.…

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Disney bans junk food, Mickey Mouse brands health. Hmmm… Thu, 07 Jun 2012 17:34:03 +0000 0 Zombies are not a health problem (for us). Should they be a solution? Thu, 07 Jun 2012 17:29:00 +0000 0 Patients want to use social media tools to manage health care Mon, 30 Apr 2012 19:57:01 +0000 0 Can the Innovator Class Save Healthcare? Mon, 16 Apr 2012 21:20:28 +0000 0 Jon Stewart ‘our greatest public intellectual’? Fri, 09 Mar 2012 20:55:39 +0000 0 Bioethicist Calls Jon Stewart ‘Our Greatest Public Intellectual’ Tue, 06 Mar 2012 16:31:43 +0000 0 The Unreal World: OR secrets in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Mon, 23 Jan 2012 06:00:00 +0000 0 Skin I Live In’ peels the layers of sex, obsession and revenge Thu, 01 Dec 2011 06:00:00 +0000 0 Health officials, speak up Tue, 02 Aug 2011 05:00:00 +0000 0 The Problem of Celebrity Medical Activism Mon, 27 Jun 2011 14:03:49 +0000 In one sense, I will grant that celebrities, just as much as any other person on the planet, have a right to speak out in regard to whatever research or clinical issue they feel passionate about. Arguably many of them have done a tremendous service to conditions like juvenile diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, spinal cord injuries and ALS.

However, in most of these cases described above, the celebrity-cum-advocate has been effected by the condition themselves, have spent a significant amount of time dealing with the condition, and as a result are knowledgeable about the current state of scientific and medical research.…

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Captain America: The Next Great Research Ethics Movie? Mon, 13 Jun 2011 16:19:22 +0000 With Captain America: The First Avenger not due to release in theaters for more than 6 weeks, the hype is pretty astonishing. And as predictable as Marvel’s pre-movie hyping and merchandising frenzy is the fact that a summer blockbuster and comic book movie would raise some ethical quandaries (although some have argued that X-Men: First Class has already claimed the distinction). But really could this movie inspire serious debate about post-war research ethics, relativism, and more? Is Captain America the bioethics movie of 2011?…

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Docs Who Give Bad Tweet: Unprofessional or Just Uneducated? Sat, 19 Feb 2011 17:26:25 +0000 Social networking among physicians is raising concerns for a variety of obvious reasons–it challenges our standard ways of thinking about the physician-patient relationship which for the most part has been confined to the exam room. Now social networks open up physicians and patients to each other in entirely new ways–some of which researchers suggest are not altogether positive.

According to a recent study published in the February 9th issue of JAMA, out of “5,156 “tweets” sent by 260 U.S. physicians, each with 500 or more followers, last May, researchers found that 3 percent were unprofessional.” (See story at

What does this really mean?…

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Move Over Dr. House–Fox is Developing a REAL Medical Ethics TV Show Wed, 12 Jan 2011 22:38:55 +0000 According to, the writer and executive producer of such shows as HBO’s “In Treatment” and network TV’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” Warren Leight is developing a new medical show that is focused exclusively on medical ethics. The show, which is currently without a title or air-date, is set to premier on the Fox Television Network.

Who is making sure they get the ethics right? According to, bioethicist Lori Andrews is consulting as well as Jon Shestack (co-founder of Cure Autism Now).…

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Feds propose graphic cigarette warning labels Wed, 10 Nov 2010 06:00:00 +0000 0 Consent for “Docu-Medical” Shows Doesn’t Make It Okay Mon, 14 Jun 2010 14:28:57 +0000 I will confess that the commercial for the new ABC medical documentary drama, “Boston Med”, had me thinking, “Gosh, I kinda want to see that.” Then I really hated myself, for about 30 seconds.

Then I moved on with the rest of my life. Until I read The Boston Globe article featuring the 8 part television event, I hadn’t really considered it to be much more than another hyping of the medical profession, another example of American’s obsession with good looking doctors and nurses in scrubs in the vein of Gray’s Anatomy and the like.…

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Friend Request Thu, 15 Apr 2010 05:00:00 +0000 0 Bioethics on TV: Watch What Dr. House Does and Do The Exact Opposite. Sun, 28 Mar 2010 11:16:53 +0000 AJB-8(12)_FINAL-REVISED-95.jpg

As previously published in the December 2008 issue of The American Journal of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins researchers Czarny et al told us that medical and nursing students watch television medical dramas in droves (almost 80% of them) and are exposed to moral dilemmas in those dramas that way.

But to our shock, how the characters in those dramas handle those moral problems is more than a little disappointing. Not only are the docs (and nurses) in shows like Grey’s Anatomy and House M.D.…

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Social networks a lifeline for the chronically ill Fri, 26 Mar 2010 05:00:00 +0000 0 `I’m here to help — maybe’ Mon, 15 Feb 2010 06:00:00 +0000 0 An Examination of the Ethics of MD-Reporter Involvement in Haiti Wed, 20 Jan 2010 06:00:00 +0000 0 A Book Doctors Can’t Close Tue, 18 Aug 2009 05:00:00 +0000 0 Obama launches e-mail campaign on health care Thu, 13 Aug 2009 05:00:00 +0000 0 Drug Industry to Run Ads Favoring White House Plan Mon, 10 Aug 2009 05:00:00 +0000 0 Drug Industry to Run Ads Favoring White House Plan Mon, 10 Aug 2009 05:00:00 +0000 0