What we are reading: 28 May 2010

blogs In 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.

Helen Jaques on Andrew Wakefield

The big news this week is that Andrew Wakefield, the doctor behind the MMR-autism scare, has been struck off the General Medical Council register.  As well as the excellent comment piece in the BMJ by Evan Harris, former Liberal Democrat science spokesman who assisted in the newspaper investigation that led to the hearing, I also enjoyed this Guardian article on the scandal: Andrew Wakefield and MMR: the ‘impact factor. Both articles cover the role of the Lancet in aiding this scandal and of journals in general preventing further such cases.

I’ve also read a couple of interesting articles about epidemiology this week.  The Economist covers how social networks and friendship links can be used to track diseases.  It turns out that “the friends of any random individual are likely to be more central to the social web than the individual himself,” so researchers are better off studying how well connected someone’s friends are rather than how well connected an individual is. 

The New York Times looks at another type of social network – families.  This article reports on a UCLA study that has followed every moment of the lives of 32 families for three years between 2002 to 2005, ‘before reality TV ruled the earth.’ 

The research shines a light on a relatively new sociological species: the dual-earner, multiple-child, middle-class American household.  One thing still hasn’t changed in this new breed though, women still do most the housework.


Tony Delamothe on the iPad

Compared with their US counterparts, the UK’ s publishers are being more cautious about launching apps for the iPad. I find the return of anxieties about ‘cannabilisation’ of other revenue streams predictable given the mini-minds that run UK publishing, but nevertheless depressing



David Payne on eating to starve cancer

Cancer research William Li founded the Angiogenesis Foundation in 1994. His TED talk in February this year has just gone online. When I heard him speak I was sitting next to a New York primary care physician and we both voted him the most interesting speaker of the first day. Since going online earlier this week, his talk has had 80 comments. I can’t see any doctors there yet, but I’d be interested in their take, both on his talk and on the comments it has attracted.

Juliet Walker on Facebook and privacy

There has been a lot in the news recently about facebook changing their privacy settings and not being clear about how this will affect users.

I have certainly been confused about whether my profile is now private or not. The Guardian has a good slideshow of screenshots explaining how to check that your details are secure.