Studies and Progress Notes (Oct 2011)
* * * STUDIES and PROGRESS NOTES * * *
* * SPIRITUAL AWARENESS AND WHOLISTIC HEALING * *
Fascinating crop circle communications
IJHC – WHR Observations
Crop circles invite research. They are genuinely extra-ordinary phenomena, witnessed by their size (often 300-800 feet in diameter), numbers (many dozens in each crop growing season in England alone), and containing stalks of plants laid down in woven patterns that are impossible to replicate manually. The one below goes way beyond the usual ones – many of which are extraordinary in their own rights.
Jubilee Plantation, nr Cherhill, Wiltshire. Reported 15th August, 2011http://www.earthrainbownetwork.com/Archives2011/EyeStorm14.htm#Nuggets
Note from Jean:
About the amazing celestial glyph suggested last Saturday <http://www.cropcircleconnector.com/2011/jubilee/jubilee2011a.html
> , check the comments at http://www.cropcircleconnector.com/2011/jubilee/comments.html
to better grasp what it is. May I also suggest you take a couple minutes to contemplate this version <http://www.cropcircleconnector.com/2011/jubilee/jubllee-retrospective1.jpg
> of it with red dots and try to wrap your mind around this unique and complex 3D configuration. Look at it in general, figuring out spatially the 4 main cubes it features and then keep in mind this "visual/sensory understanding" of how they interpenetrate each other, and try to go even beyond holding this spatial grid in your mind to dig deeper into it overall feel... Stunning mind-blowing effect! I also received the following detailed comment from Joyce A. Kovelman (ASOUL1@aol.com
) after she initially wrote to me: "This last crop circle glyph seems to have a dimensionality and depth to it that is especially intriguing to me and also seems to incorporate so many of humanities ancient and sacred shapes and symbols. I got a message immediately after looking at them, that this could also be a map of a portion of our universe and some sort of invitation beyond the design and glyph itself.
Message is a surprise as it came to me so spontaneously and has resonated for quite a while with me, that I decided to write to you to share the message with you."... To which I replied: "Quite an amazing crop formation/glyph indeed. You mention a message. I'd be happy to share this message with others - as long as you flesh it out a bit more... - if you are inspired to do so of course." So here is what she sent back:
"I have been meditating and contemplating frequently regarding last week's glyph, which still continuously draws me deeply into its center (It is also reminds me of the Enneagram <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enneagram_%28geometry%29
> grid). It's depth and expansion seems endless and limitless. The ring in the middle of the glyph, upon further observation, is not solid and appears to be like a membrane between the inner circle and the outer interpenetrating and interconnecting dimensions surrounding this membrane. I am aware that it allows movement and entry into and out of this Universe. As such, it appears that the membrane is porous and perhaps the spaces in the patterning within this thick membrane are actually pores or portals to other dimensions.
I believe that it doesn't matter which way you enter or leave the circle - for all is connected, and One. What I am receiving is that there are multiple and dimensions upon dimensions, levels and grids in our Universe and it is far more complicated than we've been taught, not just linear. Indeed, I wondered if the innermost circle is trying to reveal what is unseen and seemingly invisible in our own Universe - It might be hinting at some of the structure of dark matter which we little understand and yet it fills most of our Universe. Dark Matter is w/o light and so I would imagine that to our nervous systems, it is dark to us, and perhaps elsewhere as well, and it is why we see no stars, galaxies and only darkness.
There is a particle, a tachyon, that moves faster than the absolute top speed of light in our Universe. Tachyons reach the highest speed in our Universe as their lowest limit of speed. and are not visible to us in this Universe and to our present nervous system receptors. Yet, I feel this grid has something to say about traveling through Dark matter at higher speeds of travel and that somehow we need to learn more about tachyons to learn how to do so. For me, this is one of the meanings of this glyph. Also there is a much smaller glyph at the top of this crop circle (signature. title, or symbol) that belongs to this glyph unlike different parts of a design. I do not remember seeing many such symbols with other circles. It definitely is part of this glyph, is impressive and calls to me as well. Some of this is observation, but most of my impressions are what I am subliminally receiving during both meditation and dream time. I look forward to sharing with others who feel called to this glyph and would like to hear what they have to say. This glyph and its physical as well as emotional influence is now imprinted within me and walks along with me both day and night. It seems gentle, knowing and peaceful."
* * FUTURE RESEARCH IN WHOLISTIC HEALING * *
The IJHC/WHR E-Zine features monthly suggestions for future research in healing.
READERS ARE INVITED TO SUBMIT SUGGESTIONS FOR TOPICS TO STUDY
If your topic is chosen, you ill receive free access to the IJHC for a month, including the current issue and all back issues.
While several of these crop circle formations clearly contain messages, their meanings have rarely been clear. Interpreting these messages from unknown sources remains a challenge.
* * WHOLISTIC APPROACHES * *
IJHC – WHR Observations
There is no doubt that going for surgery is stressful. Numerous studies show that decreasing stress prior to and after surgery not only leads to less worrying but also improves surgical outcomes, reduces pain, and enhances recuperation.
The Department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center has created a unique
no cost online program entitled Preparing for Surgery.
This grant-funded web site is an evidence-based mind-body program that is based on the eight-year Holistic Surgery Program developed by a clinical nurse specialist at Beth Israel.
While other websites describe the benefits of practicing mind-body stress reduction techniques before and after surgery, this is the only site that takes the patient step by step through a complete program. The new site teaches mind-body therapies directly in audio and video formats so patients can do the work of preparing for surgery at home, while being guided by an expert in the field.
We know the value of this work in the surgical setting through a robust scientific literature that documents the many psychological and medical benefits of mind-body stress-management interventions before and after surgery. These include:
§ decreased anxiety and improved mood § reduced use of pain medication
§ less post-operative pain and discomfort § improved quality of sleep
§ reduced post-surgical complications
* * COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES * *
Vitamin C as an antiviral:
it's all about dose
(OMNS, December 3, 2009) One of the most frequent questions from Orthomolecular Medicine News Service readers is,
IJHC – WHR Observations
Vitamin C is safe. High doses can be taken, with the limit being indicated by diarrhea. Vaccines carry risks of serious reactions in rare cases. This makes them a good risk for doctors, any one of whom will rarely see such reactions. If you happen to be the unfortunate person who has a bad reaction to vaccines, for you the negative effects may be 100%.
Just how much vitamin C should I take?
Our bodies cannot make vitamin C (ascorbate), although most animals can. We must get it from our food and from supplements. But how much do we really need? Persistent arguments on this question may be settled by looking at how much vitamin C animals manufacture in their bodies. The answer is: quite a lot. Most animals make the human body-weight equivalent of 5,000 to 10,000 milligrams a day. It is unlikely that animals would have evolved to make this much vitamin C if they did not need it and use it. Indeed, cells in many human body tissues concentrate vitamin C by 25-fold or more over blood concentration.
Each person's need for vitamin C differs because of differences in genetics and individual biochemistry [1,2,3]. Further, our bodies undergo different stresses, and we certainly eat different foods. Therefore, the daily need for ascorbate to maintain health for an adult varies between 2,000 - 20,000 mg/day. Linus Pauling personally took 18,000 mg of vitamin C daily. Although he was often ridiculed for this, it is interesting to note that Dr. Pauling had two more Nobel prizes than any of his critics. He died at age 93. Abram Hoffer, MD, a colleague of Pauling's, took megadoses of vitamin C and successfully gave it to thousands of patients over 55 years of medical practice. Dr. Hoffer died at age 91.
When we are challenged with a viral infection, our need for vitamin C can rise dramatically, depending on the body's immune function, level of injury, infection, or environmental toxicity such as cigarette smoke [4,5]. Ascorbate at sufficiently high doses can prevent viral disease and greatly speed recovery from an acute viral infection. Surprising to some, this was originally observed by physicians in the 1940s and has been verified and re-verified over the last 60 years by doctors who achieved quick and complete recovery in their patients with ascorbate mega-doses . The effective therapeutic dose is based on clinical observation and bowel tolerance. Clinical observation is essentially "taking enough C to be symptom free, whatever that amount may be." Bowel tolerance means exactly what you think it means: the amount that can be absorbed from the gut without causing loose stools. [5,6]. Very high doses, 30,000 - 200,000 mg, divided up throughout the day, are remarkably non-toxic and have been documented by physicians as curing viral diseases as various as the common cold, flu, hepatitis, viral pneumonia, and even polio. [4,5,7]. On first reading this may sound incredible. We invite interested persons to read further, starting with the references listed below, and especially Dr. Frederick R. Klenner's Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C. This short book is posted in its entirety at http://www.seanet.com/~alexs/ascorbate/198x/smith-lh-clinical_guide_1988.htm
Mechanism For Ascorbate Antiviral Effect
Several mechanisms for vitamin C's antiviral effect are known or suggested from studies [4,8]. The antioxidant property of ascorbate promotes a reducing environment in the bloodstream and tissues, enhancing the body's response to oxidative stress from inflammation , thereby helping to fight microbes and viruses that propagate in stressful conditions . Ascorbate has been shown to have specific antiviral effects in which it inactivates the RNA or DNA of viruses [11,12,13], or in the assembly of the virus .
Vitamin C is also involved in enhancing several functions of the immune system. Ascorbate can enhance the production of interferon, which helps prevent cells from being infected by a virus [15,16]. Ascorbate stimulates the activity of antibodies , and in megadoses seems to have a role in mitochondrial energy production  . It can enhance phagocyte function, which is the body's mechanism for removing viral particles and other unwanted debris . White blood cells, involved in the body's defense against infections of all types, concentrate ascorbate up to 80 times plasma levels, which, if you take enough vitamin C, allows them to bring huge amounts of ascorbate to the site of the infection . Many different components of the immune response, B-cells, T-cells, NK cells, and also cytokine production, all with important roles in the immune response, are enhanced by ascorbate [19-23]. Additionally, ascorbate improves the immune response from vaccination [24,25].
Vitamin C at high doses is effective in preventing viral infection and enhancing recovery. Several mechanisms are known, including specific viral anti-replication processes and enhancement of many components of the body's cellular immune system. When taken at an appropriate dose in a timely manner, ascorbate is our best tool for curing acute viral illness.
See supporting references on the Orthomolecular Medicine website.
Herbal medicine is helpful in osteoarthritis
IJHC – WHR Observations
Here is a herbal remedy that can complement other treatments for osteoarthritis.
Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of adding a cycle of phytothermotherapy (a traditional treatment with fermenting grass used in Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy) to the usual drug treatment, in patients with primary symptomatic osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee, hip, or lumbar spine.
Methods: In this randomized, single-blind, controlled trial, 218 outpatients were enrolled; 109 patients were treated with a cycle of phytothermotherapy at the thermal resort of Garniga Terme (Trento, Italy) for 10 days; the other 109 patients continued regular outpatient care. Patients were assessed at baseline, after 2 weeks, and after 3 months from the beginning of the study and were evaluated using a visual analogue scale (VAS) for spontaneous pain, a Health Assessment Questionnaire, the Lequesne index for hip and knee osteoarthritis, and the Rolland Morris Questionnaire for lumbar spine OA and symptomatic drug consumption.
Results: In patients treated with phytothermotherapy, a significant improvement of VAS and a reduction of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug consumption at the end of treatment and 3 months later were observed. In the control group, no significant differences were noted. The analyses performed separately for each subgroup for OA localization showed that the best results were evident in lumbar spine OA. Concerning tolerability, in the group treated with phytothermotherapy 10% of patients presented side-effects due to treatment, but these were of low intensity and did not interrupt the therapy.
Conclusions: In conclusion, the results show beneficial effects of a cycle of phytothermotherapy in patients with OA of the hip, knee, or lumbar spine. Phytothermotherapy may therefore be a useful aid alongside the usual pharmacologic and physiokinesic therapies, or may be used as a valid alternative for patients who do not tolerate pharmacologic treatments.
Source: Fioravanti, Antonella et al. Phytothermotherapy in osteoarthritis: a randomized controlled clinical trial. J Alternative and
Complementary Medicine 2011, 17(5): 407-412.
Brain scan identifies when people are in pain
IJHC – WHR Observations
Identifying when pain is present through brain scans is a helpful, innovative step forward. It still remains to be honed to a point where the degree of pain can be assessed. I am unable to imagine how this can be validated without confirmation of people through subjective reports – which then would leave the instrumental measures as no more than an equivalent of the subjective reports. The major contribution of this instrumental approach appears to me to be with people who are unable to report that they have pain.
Pain expert Sean Mackey and his colleagues are working to develop a tool that could assess whether someone is experiencing pain.
Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine
have taken a first step toward developing a diagnostic tool that could eliminate a major hurdle in pain medicine — the dependency on self-reporting to measure the presence or absence of pain. The new tool would use patterns of brain activity to give an objective physiologic assessment of whether someone is in pain.
The scientists used functional magnetic resonance imaging scans of the brain combined with advanced computer algorithms to accurately predict thermal pain 81 percent of the time in healthy subjects, according to a study published Sept. 13 in the online journal PLoS ONE.
“People have been looking for a pain detector for a very long time,” said Sean Mackey
, MD, PhD, chief of the Division of Pain Management
and associate professor of anesthesia
. “We’re hopeful we can eventually use this technology for better detection and better treatment of chronic pain.”
Researchers stressed that future studies are needed to determine whether these methods will work to measure various kinds of pain, such as chronic pain, and whether they can distinguish accurately between pain and other emotionally arousing states, such as anxiety or depression.
“A key thing to remember is that this approach objectively measured thermal pain in a controlled lab setting,” Mackey said. “We should take care not to extrapolate these findings to say we can measure and detect pain in all circumstances.”
The need for a better way to objectively measure pain instead of relying on the current method of self-reporting has long been acknowledged. But the highly subjective nature of pain has made this an elusive goal.
Advances in neuroimaging techniques have re-invigorated the debate over whether it might be possible to measure pain physiologically, and, in fact, led to this current study.
“We rely on patient self-reporting for pain, and that remains the gold standard,” said Mackey, senior author of the study. “That’s what I, as a physician, rely on when I take care of a patient with chronic pain. But there are a large number of patients, particularly among the very young and the very old, who can’t communicate their pain levels. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a technique that could measure pain physiologically?”
A study released by the Institute of Medicine in June reported that more than 100 million Americans suffer chronic pain, costing around $600 billion each year in medical expenses and lost productivity. (Mackey was a member of the committee that produced the report.) What’s more, it found that cultural bias against chronic pain sufferers as being weak or even worse — they are often perceived as lying about their pain — complicates the delivery of appropriate treatment. Similar biases crop up in the legal field, with hundreds of thousands of cases each year that hinge on the existence of pain, said Stanford law professor Hank Greely
, an expert on the legal, ethical and social issues surrounding the biosciences.
“A robust, accurate way to determine whether someone is in pain or not would be a godsend for the legal system,” said Greely, who did not participate in the study.
The idea for this study germinated at a 2009 Stanford Law School event organized by Greely that brought together neuroscientists and legal scholars to discuss how the neuroimaging of pain could be used and abused in the legal system. Mackey and two of his lab assistants attended.
“At the end of the symposium, there was discussion about the challenges of creating a ‘painometer.’ I discussed hypothetically how we could do this in the future,” Mackey said. “These two young scientists in my lab came up to me after and said, ‘We think we can do this.
We would like to try.’ I was skeptical.”
The two scientists — Neil Chatterjee, currently a MD/PhD student at Northwestern University, and first author of the study Justin Brown, PhD, now an assistant professor of biology at Simpson College — came up with the concept in a discussion after the symposium.
“It was very much on a whim,” said co-author Chatterjee. “We thought, maybe we can’t make the perfect tool, but has anyone ever really tried doing this on a very, very basic level? It turned out to be surprisingly simple to do this.”
Researchers took eight subjects, and put them in the brain-scanning machine. A heat probe was then applied to their forearms, causing moderate pain. The brain patterns both with and without pain were then recorded and interpreted by advanced computer algorithms to create a model of what pain looks like. The process was repeated with a second group of eight subjects.
The idea was to train a linear support vector machine — a computer algorithm invented in 1995 — on one set of individuals, and then use that computer model to accurately classify pain in a completely new set of individuals.
The computer was then asked to consider the brain scans of eight new subjects and determine whether they had thermal pain.
“We asked the computer to come up with what it thinks pain looks like,” Chatterjee said. “Then we could measure how well the computer did.” And it did amazingly well. The computer was successful 81 percent of the time.
“I was definitely surprised,” Chatterjee said.
, PhD, assistant professor of anesthesiology, was a co-author on this study.
13-year-old makes a solar energy breakthrough with fibonacci mathematical sequence
by EarthTechling.com Staff on 08.18.11
IJHC – WHR Observations
Amazing (though not surprising) to see how trees know more than scientists about maximizing their uses of sunlight.
One would be excused for suspecting that Aidan Dwyer, said to be 13, is in fact a small, very young-looking, 37-year-old college-educated con-man of the highest order. Such is not the case though for what the young Long Island lad has accomplished in a feat typically associated with much older individuals. As reported on the Patch community website out of Northport, N.Y., Aidan has used the Fibonacci sequence to devise a more efficient way to collect solar energy, earning himself a provisional U.S. patent and interest from "entities" apparently eager to explore commercializing his innovation.
And you're wondering what the Fibonacci sequence is. Aidan explains it all on a page on the website of the American Museum of Natural History, which recently named him one of its Young Naturalist Award winners for 2011. The awards go to students from middle school through high school who have investigated questions they have in the areas of biology, Earth science, ecology and astronomy.
So back to the Fibonacci sequence: Starting with the numbers 0 and 1, each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two - 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13.... These numbers, when put in ratios, happens to show up in the patterns of branches and leaves on trees. Aidan, having been mesmerized by tree-branch patterns during a winter hike in the Catskills, sought to investigate why. His hunch: "I knew that branches and leaves collected sunlight for photosynthesis, so my next experiments investigated if the Fibonacci pattern helped."
One thing led to another, and before you know it, this kid, three years from being eligible for a driver's license, had built a tree-like stand affixed with small solar panels in the Fibonacci pattern. He compared its ability to collect sunlight to a flat-panel collector. And Nature won.
Summing up his research and imagining the possibilities, Aidan wrote: "The tree design takes up less room than flat-panel arrays and works in spots that don't have a full southern view. It collects more sunlight in winter. Shade and bad weather like snow don't hurt it because the panels are not flat. It even looks nicer because it looks like a tree. A design like this may work better in urban areas where space and direct sunlight can be hard to find."
* * ENVIRONMENT (HEALING OUR PLANET) * *
A new science: Analysis of the Cycle of Life (ACL)
by Leonardo Boff, Theologian, Earthcharter Commission
IJHC – WHR Observations
This is a wake-up call to look much more carefully at our ecological footprints, the pollution we leave in our wake as we walk the earth.
The more general search for a good life and for caring for the global
situation of the Earth is causing us to deepen our ecological consciousness.
Now we have to analyze the traces of carbon, toxins, heavy metals found in
the industrial products we use in our everyday lives. A new science is
being born from this concern, known by the acronym ACV (from the
Spanish, *Análisisdel Ciclo de Vida*, or *Analysis of the Cycle of Life*, ACL.) The impacts on
the biosphere, on society and on health in each stage of a product are
monitored, starting from their extraction, production,
distribution, consumption and their elimination.
Let's take an example: in making a one kilogram crystal vase, incredible as
it may sound, 659 different ingredients are used in the different stages
until the final product appears. Which are harmful? The Analysis of the
Cycle of Life seeks to identify them. It is also applied to the so
called 'green', or 'ecologically clean, products'. The majority are only green at the
end, or clean only in their final utilization, as in the case of ethanol.
Being realists, we must admit that all industrial production leaves a trace
of toxins, no matter how small. Nothing is totally green or clean. Only
relatively eco-friendly. This was examined by Daniel Goleman in his recent
book, *Ecological intelligence,* (Kairos 2009).
It would be ideal if each product, in addition to detailing its nutrients,
fats and vitamins, also stated its negative impacts on health, society and
the environment. This is being done in the United States by *Good Guide*, an
institution accessible via the Internet, that establishes a triple
qualification: *green,* for relatively pure products, *yellow*, if they
contain harmful but not extremely bad elements, and* red*, unadvisable due
to its negative ecologic footprint. Now the roles have been reversed: it is
no longer the seller, but the buyer who establishes the criteria for
purchasing, or for consuming, a given product.
The mode of production is changing and our brains have not had enough time
yet to follow that transformation. The brain has a sort of internal radar
that lets us know when threats or dangers are near. Smells, colors, flavors
and sounds warn us about the products, if they are damaged or if they are
all right, if an animal is attacking us, or not.
It so happens that our brains do not yet register subtle ecologic changes,
nor do they detect chemical particles disseminated in the air that can
poison us. Through biotechnology and nanotechnology, we have already
introduced 104,000 artificial chemical compounds. With the resource of the
Analysis of the Cycle of Life we can prove, for instance, the extent to
which these synthetic chemical substances decrease the number of male
spermatozoids, to the point that millions of men are rendered infertile.
We cannot continue saying: ecological changes are good only if they do not
affect costs and earnings. That form of thinking is backwards and
alienated, because it does not note the changes that happen in the
consciousness. The *mantra* of the new enterprises is now:* «the more
sustainable the better; the healthier the better, the more eco-friendly
the better.» *
Ecological intelligence will be added to other types of intelligence;
including it is now more necessary than ever.
Why Doctors Make Mistakes-Three questions to help you get the right diagnosis.
by Jerome Groopman, M.D. IJHC – WHR Observations
Going to the doctor may be a challenge, particularly if you are concerned that you might have something seriously wrong. It is often difficult to understand what you are being told, much less to remember the details. Here are some suggestions that may be helpful. (In addition to these, I would add that it is really helpful to have someone else who knows you well accompany you to the doctor's office.)
Too often, physicians make snap decisions. Here are three questions to help you make the right diagnosis. by Jerome Groopman, MD (Jerome Groopman, MD., is the author of the New York Times bestseller How Doctors Think (Mariner Books, 2008)
This article was originally printed in AARP magazine September/October 2008 issue. www.aarpmagazine.org
Not long ago I spoke with a middle-aged woman whose mother had been misdiagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The elderly woman's memory was fading, and her family was close to admitting her to a nursing home. Luckily, the family decided to get a second opinion from a neurologist at a different hospital. It turned out the woman did not have Alzheimer's at all but, rather, vitamin B12 deficiency, a well-recognized cause of dementia. Her mild anemia, also due to vitamin B12 deficiency, had been written off by her internist as being due to "old age." Injections with the vitamin fully reversed the anemia and restored her thinking.
Unfortunately, medical misdiagnosis is not a rare phenomenon. About 15 percent of all patients are misdiagnosed, and half of those face serious harm, even death, because of the error. Contrary to the general impression that most mis-diagnoses result from a technical foul-up, such as mislabeling someone's X-ray or mixing up a blood specimen in the laboratory, most cases are due to mistakes in the mind of the doctor.
How do doctors think through a case? Making an accurate diagnosis involves arranging the information from the patient's symptoms--findings from physical examination and laboratory tests--into a pattern. A doctor then superimposes this pattern onto a template of the typical case that exists in his or her mind. But this effort at pattern recognition doesn't always work. Why not?
First, there may be incomplete or misleading information. Patients may not feel comfortable reporting all their symptoms to a doctor--or, as studies show, physicians may prematurely cut off a patient who is reciting his or her problems (in fact, research reveals that most physicians interrupt a patient within 18 seconds of beginning an interview)
. Second, pattern recognition is difficult because cases may not be "typical". This means that diseases can have different manifestations, sometimes quite subtle, because every individual is different. Most significant is how the doctor selects the clinical elements, weighs their importance, and arranges them in his or her mind, a process that can result in several different patterns, leading to quite different diagnoses.
There are three major cognitive mistakes that can occur in the mind of the doctor and lead to misdiagnosis. The first is termed anchoring
, meaning the tendency to grab on to the first symptom, physical finding, or laboratory abnormality. Such snap judgments may be correct, but they can also lead physicians astray. A second common cognitive error is termed availability
. This refers to the tendency to assume that an easily remembered prior experience--what is most readily available in the physician's memory--can explain the new situation he or she is trying to diagnose. The third mistake in thinking is termed attribution
, and this accounts for many of the misdiagnoses in the elderly. Attribution refers to the tendency to mentally invoke a stereotype and "attribute" symptoms to it. Alas, often this stereotype is a negative one, such as an older person who is seen as a complainer, a hypochondriac, or a person unable to cope with his or her naturally declining abilities. The doctor ignores the possibility of an illness not specifically linked to "old age," as in the case of the woman with B12 deficiency. Imagine how much it would have cost in physical resources--not to mention emotional ones--to keep her in a nursing home for the rest of her life.
What can patients do to help prevent medical thinking from going astray? I have formulated three simple questions to ask. It is quite appropriate for patients and their families to pose these questions to their doctor when he or she is making a diagnosis. 1. "What else could it be?"
This question helps to prevent an anchoring error or an availability error, where a diagnosis is formulated too quickly in the physician's mind because it corresponds to the initial symptom or abnormality (anchoring) or because it is most familiar to the doctor (availability). 2. "Could two things be going on to explain my symptoms?"
In medical school doctors are taught to be parsimonious in their thinking, meaning they are taught to identify a single cause to explain a variety of complaints and symptoms. But sometimes a patient can have two medical problems simultaneously. Physicians sometimes stop searching once they find an initial problem, even if the patient does not fully recover. 3. "Is there anything in my history, physical examination, laboratory findings, or other tests that seems not to fit with your working diagnosis?"
All physicians tend to discount information that seems to contradict their hypothesis. This bias can lead a doctor down the wrong path; his or her anchor diagnosis may be so firmly fixed that this leads to ignoring contradictory data.
I have found that smart and dedicated physicians are able to explain their thinking, and they are able to put into clear and accessible lay language how they arrived at their working diagnosis. In some instances these questions may cause the doctor to go back and reexamine assumptions, to think again, and to come up with a different, and now correct, diagnosis. All doctors want the best treatment for their patients, and the best treatment involves the most open-minded thinking.
IJHC – WHR Observations
Insights into dealing with challenging problems often come from people who have a new perspective to offer to those who have been entrenched in established lines of investigation. As Stephen Schwartz (who forwarded this item in his SchwartzReport notes, this is a form of 'hive consciousness'.
Online gamers have achieved a feat beyond the realm of Second Life or Dungeons and Dragons: they have deciphered the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus that had thwarted scientists for a decade.
The exploit is published on Sunday in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, where - exceptionally in scientific publishing - both gamers and researchers are honoured as co-authors.
Their target was a monomeric protease enzyme, a cutting agent in the complex molecular tailoring of retroviruses, a family that includes HIV.
Figuring out the structure of proteins is vital for understanding the causes of many diseases and developing drugs to block them.
But a microscope gives only a flat image of what to the outsider looks like a plate of one-dimensional scrunched-up spaghetti. Pharmacologists, though, need a 3D picture that "unfolds" the molecule and rotates it in order to reveal potential targets for drugs.
This is where Foldit comes in.
Developed in 2008 by the University of Washington, it is a fun-for-purpose video game in which gamers, divided into competing groups, compete to unfold chains of amino acids - the building blocks of proteins - using a set of online tools.
To the astonishment of the scientists, the gamers produced an accurate model of the enzyme in just three weeks.
Cracking the enzyme "provides new insights for the design of antiretroviral drugs", says the study, referring to the lifeline medication against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
It is believed to be the first time that gamers have resolved a long-standing scientific problem.
"We wanted to see if human intuition could succeed where automated methods had failed," Firas Khatib of the university's biochemistry lab said in a press release.
"The ingenuity of game players is a formidable force that, if properly directed, can be used to solve a wide range of scientific problems."
One of Foldit's creators, Seth Cooper, explained why gamers had succeeded where computers had failed.
"People have spatial reasoning skills, something computers are not yet good at," he said.
"Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans. The results in this week's paper show that gaming, science and computation can be combined to make advances that were not possible before."