Posts Tagged ‘public health’

Truth, Power, and Misinformation in a Health Crisis

March 27, 2020 — Knowledge is power, said Sir Francis Bacon in the 16th century. But today, that aphorism has morphed. Now it seems that misinformation is quite powerful. Governments and politicians have learned that they can censor information simply by overwhelming truth with noise. However, misinformation in a health crisis can be deadly. Truth and public trust are […]

Bright Red Lines: Fact, Speculation, and Misinformation

March 27, 2020 — There’s nothing like the high stakes of a pandemic to remind us of danger from blurring the bright red lines separating fact, speculation, and misinformation. This is because an emerging pandemic presents us with ambiguity. But our human nature detests ambiguity. We crave certainty. Without facts to lean upon, we speculate about what might be […]

Rising Conflict: Reason and Emotion in Health Policy

March 25, 2020 — We’re witnessing some intense interchanges on health policy right now. Reason and emotion are in vivid conflict. Jolting comments collide with disturbing facts. The new coronavirus “will disappear like a miracle,” says one policymaker. In addition, we hear promises of “packed churches all over our country” in just a couple of weeks. But then, a […]

Not Me! What’s the Point of Knowing Our Risks?

March 24, 2020 — Risk is an abstraction. It’s invisible. So people have a tough time wrapping their heads around questions of risk. How immediate is the risk? Is it big? Does it affect me? Am I putting others in danger? These are just a few of the questions that shape how we think about knowing our risks. As […]

COVID-19: Short-Term Focus for Long-Term Risks

March 21, 2020 — Obesity is a complex, chronic disease. However, it’s one that’s easy to ignore, because it burns slowly into a person’s health status. The problem isn’t immediate. It usually lies in the distant future – with long-term risks. That’s true enough, until those long-term risks come into short-term focus. Right now, this is precisely what is […]

A New Behavioral Program: Suspended Animation

March 20, 2020 — All around the world, we have a new commitment to suspense. Education is suspended. So, too are daycare and preschools. Office work? In large measure, that simply doesn’t exist right now. In fact, it seems like the pattern of our lives has become suspended animation. The Pause Button For a small minority, this might be […]

Homework: A Natural Experiment in Lifestyle Changes

March 19, 2020 — We have a grand natural experiment underway – a huge lifestyle intervention. Suddenly, hundreds of millions of people are living a more confined lifestyle. We have no more third place, no commute to work, only the home place. So physical activity and nutrition patterns will change. Likewise, social dynamics will change, too. But we have […]

COVID-19, Stigma, Obesity, and Rationing Care

March 17, 2020 — A pandemic such as COVID-19 has a way of raising difficult issues to confront. Questions about who’s at risk also raise issues about stigma and bias. On top of that, when the pandemic overruns our capacity for healthcare, triage becomes a reality. In Italy, physicians on the frontlines of this pandemic are facing difficult decisions […]

Combining the Risks of Coronavirus with Obesity

March 16, 2020 — Two things are now very apparent about the coronavirus epidemic. First, it affects all of us. But second, the health affects are wildly different for different people. For many people, the symptoms are mild, sometimes even negligible. However, it can also be deadly – especially for people older than 60 or people who have other […]

The Importance of Distinguishing Science from Ideology

March 14, 2020 — Must everything be tribal and ideological? We think not. Yet avoiding this tendency is certainly hard for humans such as ourselves. Facing the health threat of COVID-19, we see a prime example of the importance of distinguishing science from ideology. It’s handwashing. The Most Effective Way to Prevent Transmission This is a matter scientific fact. […]