What we’re reading: 7 May 2010

blogsIn the BMJ editorial office, we often come across interesting articles, blogs, and web pages. We thought we would share these with you. Some are medical, some techie, and some just general.

David Payne writes:
Clarissa Dickson Wright, the surviving “fat lady” cook and rural campaigner, came to fame late in life when the TV series she co-hosted with the late Jennifer Pattison was a BBC TV hit. Her autobiography, Spilling the Beans, describes a childhood blighted by a violent alcoholic father, the “very famous and brilliant surgeon” Arthur Dickson Wright. who repeatedly turned down a knighthood because it would mean losing the “Mr” title he had worked so hard to attain.

She was born into a medical dynasty. Her paternal grandfather practiced in Helensburgh and Govan. All his sons followed him into medicine and every daughter except one married doctors. Clarissa is an inveterate name dropper, and this extends to medicine. A sickly child, even Sir John Simpson, “the senior ENT surgeon” could not account for Clarissa’s eardrum extending beyond her ear. Her beloved mother, a devout Catholic, “cures” Clarissa by placing a relic of a Brazilian monk on the affected ear.

Juliet Walker, assistant web editor writes:
A colleague recommended that I should watch this video of Hans Rosling giving a talk at TED in 2006. I didn’t think that stats could be so funny or engaging. Perhaps it is already well known, but for those who haven’t already watched it, it is worth putting aside 19 minutes to do so. http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_shows_the_best_stats_you_ve_ever_seen.html

Helen Jaques, technical editor, writes:
I seem to be hearing a lot about the science of music lately, most recently via a talk at the Science Museum and a friend of mine who set off to Sydney last year to do a PhD in the role of music in social bonding.  Now this month’s issue of the Times’ Eureka supplement has a selection of good articles on music, the most interesting for me being one on how our minds break music into chunks in order to understand it and one on whether musical talent is a gift or learned.

Regarding another of my favourite, or least favourite, topics, Wired magazine has an interesting article about the importance of basic statistics literacy among the general public. In particular, statistics is becoming an important political issue: “We live in a world where the thorniest policy issues increasingly boil down to arguments over what the data mean,” points out author Clive Thompson.