Hard conversations

Yesterday was long and rough, with the day spent desperately trying to finish a grant application and the evening spent in obedience training with our new dog Bailey, who, let’s face it, needs more than a bit of doggie discipline. By the time I got home, had dinner, and was checking e-mail, it was pretty late and–gasp!–I didn’t really feel like blogging. Yes I’m aware of that study that claims to link vinyl floors to autism that everyone’s been sending me; perhaps I’ll get to it tomorrow. Last night it was just too late and I was too tired to try to tackle reading a research paper and writing up a commentary.

In lieu of more of bestowing more of Orac’s scintillating (or overwrought) pearls of wisdom, upon his eager fans, I sometimes like to point out new and potentially interesting blogs. In this case, it’s a medical student who’s just started his blog up. At when a blog is at such an embryonic stage, it’s always difficult to tell if the blogger will stick to it, but in this case the initial posts look promising. The blog is called Beyond the Short Coat, and the blogger, Whitecoat Tales, has begun a series called Hard Conversations, which he describes thusly:

I want to be clear; there isn’t any scientific controversy in what I’ll be writing about, only media hype. I’m calling them “Hard Conversations” because I will be discussing things people hold strong and cherished beliefs about, in long, generally multi-part posts. Often we’ll be discussing things people hold responsible for their own pain and suffering. For example the first Conversation will be about vaccines and autism. I understand just how polarizing these issues can be. I’m not aiming to just shout at suffering people and say “Can’t you see the science! Don’t be stupid!” I think a lot of bloggers do that sort of thing much better than I would. Make no mistake though, I will not compromise science. Ethically, and morally, I have an obligation to explain these issues to the best understanding we have in the medical world. I’m not going to pander to people who specialize, knowingly or unknowingly, in giving people false hope or false beliefs to make money, or for their own perverse pleasure.

I can only hope that he doesn’t get the impression that I do the Orac schtick when I’m talking to patients. When I encounter a woman who is in the thrall of cancer quackery I certainly don’t go full Orac on her. Blogging is an outlet meant to satisfy my urge to write and (hopefully) educate about science, medicine, and skepticism. It’s a different media. That’s not to say that the message isn’t the same when dealing with such patients. I make no bones about it when explaining, for example, that homeopathy is bunk and why, but I do it gently but firmly.

And his first “Hard Conversation” is Vaccines and Autism, part 1. Please check it out and comment.