On science blogs this week: Hippocritic oaths

More aftershocks. Schrodinger's health care bill. Healthcare-less? Polling the polls. Haiti health care becomes a reality series. ScienceOnline2010 online.

 

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MORE AFTERSHOCKS. Not just in Haiti, but in the sudden collapse of prospects for Obamacare following last Tuesday's senatorial detonation in Massachusetts.

Keith Hennessey, an economist in the administration of Bush fils who is resting up from that experience as a blogger, sums up much of the commentary with a hard metaphor from hard science: The proposed federal legislation has become Schrodinger's health care bill. The legislation, like the theoretical physicist's theoretical cat, is in a state of quantum uncertainty, neither alive nor dead. (Although, Hennessey said, it heads for dead.)

Kate Steadman of Kaiser Health News's Blog Watch summarizes blogging about the Democrats' post-election panic and also a selection of more general bloggery of the Schrodinger sort. David M. Herszenhorn, at the New York Times's Prescriptions blog, quotes at length from Obama's Friday vows to keep fighting for his healthcare proposals. You can also scan a selection of relevant posts at the Health Affairs blog, from the authoritative health care policy journal.

POLLING THE POLLS. If it's the operating room you seek, check out the wide selection of blog opinions on what polls from Massachusetts and nationwide tell us about what folks really think about the politics of the healthcare proposals. Or not. For me, they mostly raised questions about the "science" of polling. Or at least poll interpretation, especially when viewed through the lens of ideology. Herewith:

Marjorie Connelly at Prescriptions. At Reason Hit and Run, Ronald Bailey tells Why I Just Love the New York Times Headlines Because... and Peter Suderman declares Health Care Is Dead — Just Don't Tell the Left.

Greg Marx at Columbia Journalism Review's The Kicker describes how the [Washington] Post Weighs in with Massachusetts Poll. Mike the Mad Biologist acknowledges Yes, the Democratic Rank-and-File Were Demobilized. And Ross White at Bioethics Forum declares Americans Want Health Care Reform. Really.

Enough prognoses. We await outcomes.

HEALTH CARE IN HAITI. IS THIS JOURNALISM OR A REALITY SERIES? You mightn't think professional issues for science writers would emerge from a calamity of the dimensions of the Haiti earthquake. But at least one did.

On the scene were television reporters who are also physicians. They include docs Sanjay Gupta, of CNN, and Richard Besser, who reports for ABC News. Should they, as Brendan Maher put it at Nature's Great Beyond, make "themselves part of the story by treating injured people on air"? Maher's post includes a clip of Gupta's work so you can see for yourself, plus links to several blog discussions.

Pia Christensen at Covering Health, the blog from the Association of Health Care Journalists, also surveys blog posts on the blurring of roles. She adds Jennifer Ashton of CBS and NBC's Nancy Snyderman to the list of physician participatory journalists. See also James A. White at the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog.

So, is this a case of journalists as decent human beings, applying other skills they possess in a devastating crisis? Or is it a marketing ploy, a way of exploiting a horrific news event for the sake of attracting an audience?

SCIENCEONLINE2010 ONLINE. I described this polyglot conference last time. Despite its name, ScienceOnline2010 was not exactly online. But it resulted in a cascade of tweets, blog posts, and more from science writers and scientists who attended--and plenty who didn't. Chronobiologist Coturnix thoughtfully provided links to zillions of blog posts about scio10, but the list was so long it popped the buttons on its wiki. So he conveyed it to his own time zone, A Blog Around the Clock, where you will now find it.

LATE-BREAKING NEWS. Strictly speaking, this installment should be titled On Science Blogs Last Week, since I am posting today, Monday, rather than last Friday as usual. The delay was the result of a last-minute assignment that dropped into my lap late last week, and I can't promise it won't happen again.

She said hopefully.

Freelances will know exactly what I mean.

January 25, 2010

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