Never enough

I recently finish a very interesting book on drugs and addiction titled Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction. The book was written by Judith Grisel, who is a not only a professor and neuroscientist, but also a former drug addict. The book describes the process of addiction, and how different types of illicit…

What makes humans smarter than apes?

The answer is not raw brain processing power, but rather it is our ability to learn from others. At least that is the argument from Joseph Henrich’s book The Secret of our Success. Slate Star Codex has an excellent book review. Consider the following graph comparing human, chimpanzee and orangutan intelligence. Another interesting quotation from…

Book Review: Overcharged

In the book Overcharged, authors Charles Silver and David Hyman identify a number of problems with the current health care system.  Third party payment under a fee-for-service system means that providers have an incentive to provide more rather than less care.  Further, because the people receiving the services (patients) are not the ones who are footing…

Prohibition

A recently finished reading Prohibition: A Concise History by W.J. Rorabaugh.  The history is interesting throughout and concise indeed at only 133 pages.  Some interesting excerpts include: Whenever a substance is banned two things happen.  First, the price goes up, and second, the product returns in more concentrated form, or a replacement appears.  The high risk…

Why fighting disease is hard

Without a doubt, medicine has made tremendous gains over the last decades and even more progress when viewed across centuries.  Often to treat diseases, physicians and researchers identify a single or primary pathway that is causing the disease.  Maybe there is a gene mutation which causes an abnormality.  Maybe there is a bacteria or virus…

Books to read

Andrew Soloman has an outstanding article the Guardian discussing the intersection of literature and medicine.  He his article about literature on medicine saying saying: Medicine can contribute to literature; narrative practice can strengthen medicine. It behoves writers and doctors to learn each other’s fluencies, because their disparate approaches can add up to singular truths. Of particular…

Infectious Disease: Themes

An interesting post by Nicolas Bagley at the Incidental Economist provides a brief overview of a class he taught on infectious diseases and the law.  Looking at diseases ranging from cholera, Spanish flu, polio, AIDS, SARS, and Ebola, Bagley claims that ten key themes emerged: Governments are typically unprepared, disorganized, and resistant to taking steps…