A Ghostwriter’s insight into the industry

From PLoS Medicine, a nice article on ghost-writing by a former writer, with interesting information about why she did it, and why she stopped doing it. It is also very interesting to get an insight into exactly how the pharmaceutical industry is able to manipulate the publication of articles and the direct education of clinicians. A related article is here.

The Google effect: losing your ability to remember things

Here’s a little test for you – can you remember the phone number of your closest relative, partner or friend? For me, I can barely remember my own phone number and address.

Here is an interesting article from Science. Sorry about the lack of open access. For those of us who aren’t psychologists or cognitive scientists, this might seem ‘obvious’, however it’s nice to see it quantified.

Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips

I wonder what the effect of search engines and ubiquitous Internet access will have on the youngest generation, who have never been forced to actually store information they need in their brain.

Will they be learning and doing exams the same way as we did when we were in high school or university? My guess is that the future’s “smartest” kids will be the ones with an in-built radar for knowing where to go online to find information and knowing what to information to trust.

French guidelines are withdrawn after court finds potential bias among authors

[Lenzer 342 — bmj.com] Formindep “promotes independent medical education and information” found that the working groups involved with the guidelines for Alzheimer’s disease had major financial conflicts of interest and some members failed to disclose their financial interests.

It’s fine to demand disclosure of financial interests, but what would they do with the guidelines if they were disclosed? Leave them in the public domain? And what happens if/when the clinical trials underpinning the guidelines were mostly (or wholly) funded by the pharmaceutical industry that seeks to profit from the over-use of prescription drugs?

French guidelines are withdrawn after court finds potential bias among authors

Most popular paper at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

Well done to one of our newest postdocs Mei Sing Ong, whose work on failures in handoff communication during intrahospital transfers has become the most viewed paper, beating out some big-hitting competition. You can find the full paper here.

Dinner for NetSci2011 at Sofitel Budapest

Pictured below is Robin Dunbar (Oxford) making jokes about monogamy watched by Albert-László Barabási (Harvard, Northeastern), Uri Alon (Weizmann Institute), Alain Barrat (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) and Andrea Baronchelli (UPC Barcelona). Not pictured, but still in the room are other well known luminaries such as Brian Uzzi (Kellogg School of Management), and Hawoong Jeong (KAIST). Next year’s NetSci will be at Northeastern and will be organised by Brian Uzzi.

Spreading, Influencing and Cascading

The NetSci2011 satellite workshop on spreading, influencing and cascading in social and information networks.

Here is Brian Uzzi, whose discussion of the adoption of scientific ideas provided some good laughs, and set some brains ticking over how they might improve the likelihood of increased citation rates for themselves. If only it were as simple as citing the right papers and collaborating across wide distances.