Education and Medicine Weekly Channel Highlights

In this post: the large versions of the Education & Careers and Medicine & Health channel photos, comments from readers, and the best posts of the week.


Education & Careers. From Flickr, by Duchamp


Medicine & Health. From Flickr, by jurvetson

Reader comments of the week:

In Don't Go to Grad School (in the Humanities), Chad Orzel of Uncertain Principles dipenses some sage advice for prospective grad students: "If they're not offering to pay you, don't go." For physics students but even more for humanities students, the potential payoffs are not enough, in Chad's opinion, to scrape by for several years while a university reaps the benefits of your labor.

Reader Ben M is appalled at the very possibility:

Are there really schools that charge tuition for physics grad students? Are there places that don't at least aim to pay stipends for everyone?

On the Medicine & Health channel, DrugMonkey talks about an often overlooked problem facing doctors whose inpatients also happen to have drug dependencies. In Drug Addiction in the Hospitalized Patient: A Blindspot for Medical Professionals?, he relates the case of a man who checked himself out of a surgical ward—against all medical advice—because his multiple drug addictions went unaddressed by hospital staff; after collapsing in the street outside the building, he was administered an opiate antagonist and came to. DrugMonkey argues that the case is illustrative of a "tut, tut" attitude common among medical professionals, particularly when it comes to nicotine addiction—smoking is bad for you, so hospital inpatients shouldn't be encouraged to smoke. But if patients must give "right-minded, informed consent" to check themselves out of care or agree to certain medical procedures, does a person suffering from severe drug withdrawal really meet these criteria?

DrugMonkey also takes issue with the flawed argument that addiction may have a purely psychological component:

The more I interact with (non-mental health / non-drug addiction expert) medical care providers on this issue, the more I realize that this is a BigFreakinProblem, not some murky, irrelevant semantic distinction. There is no such thing as the "mind" that is distinct from the "flesh". Period. The "mind" is most assuredly the reflection of the physical states of the brain.

Reader DuWayne agrees, but doesn't think this is a reliable basis for treatment:

there isn't a simple, physiological answer to these problems that help keep me smoking. There are pharmaceuticals that can help, but a cognitive approach is also called for. Indeed, a cognitive approach is an essential part of my fight against my addiction to tobacco.

In effect, recognizing that the psychological is physical isn't going to help much in this context. It doesn't change the need for cognitive approaches, nor does it change the fact that catering to patient addictions can simply be impossible. It is important in the development of new treatments, including cognitive approaches - I have no doubt that we are on the cusp of some major breakthroughs in treating mental dysfunctions. For that I think it is important to get people on track with the understanding that the mind is the body. But in practical terms the mind is still pretty damned mysterious and will continue to be such for most people, even as they accept that there really isn't a mind/body duality.

Some other Education & Careers posts we thought were cool this week were:

Using DNA barcoding to identify illegal bushmeat jerky trade

Open Textbooks

Academia == Hollywood?

Thinking about teaching

Are scientists getting happier with science journalism?

And from the Medicine & Health channel:

What did they recall today? It Will Make You More Paranoid Than the Weather Channel

Swimming and the "one hour rule"

Obesity amplifies across generations; can folate-rich diets stop it ?

Brain and nerve food

Look for highlights from other channels coming up!


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