This post is jointly authored by Nicholas Bagley and Austin Frakt. Yesterday evening, the New England Journal of Medicine released a Perspective piece that
Last fall, Steven Pinker promoted his new book, The Sense of Style, with an article in The Chronicle Review entitled “Why Academics Stink at Writing”. I didn’t write about this article at the time because I hadn’t yet read the book; while I had a lot of concerns about the article, I was reluctant to share them in the absence of an understanding of his overall intentions in the book. Over the winter break, I read the book in order to write a review; what I found was a thoughtful diagnosis of the habits that impede strong academic writing and a great deal of incisive writing advice. I recommend Pinker’s account of how what he calls the “curse of knowledge” (p. 59) prevents us from grasping what the reader needs to know. And I recommend his approach to managing complex writing, especially at the sentence level. I feel certain that most serious…
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Recent researches found that the south north gradient of the occurrence of multiple sclerosis is diminishing in the USA and doesn’t exist anymore in France.
Here are the two articles:
Alvaro Alonso, MD Miguel A. Herna ́n, MD
Temporal trends in the incidence of multiple sclerosis A systematic review
Neurology 71 July 8, 2008
Available in full text here:
Fromont A, Binquet C, Sauleau EA, Fournel I, Bellisario A, Adnet J, et al. Geographic variations of multiple sclerosis in France. Brain 2010;133:1889-99.OpenUrlAbstract/FREE Full Text http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/brain/133/7/1889.full.pdf
Thus the epidemiology of multiple sclerosis seems to shift toward a less intense south north gradient but in the same time an aggravation of the sex ratio, aggravating the burden that women bear in this inflammatory disease that affects the central nervous system (i.e. the central unit of our body in terms of information technologies).
This tendency opens new interests for more epidemiological studies in this field. All the more because the observational studies aiming to prove the mixed, genetic and environmental, etiology are entangled with the current migrations of populations, the mobility of young people in view of finding a job and the changes in life habits in the populations of the south such as using more protection against the sun rays.
Professor Confavreux had well depicted the stakes in this editorial:
An unchanging man faced with changing times Christian Confavreux
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/aws135 1663-1665 First published online: 24 May 2012
For the present moment multiple sclerosis etiological mechanism is an enigma and risks to remain so if researchers in the domain have no new data to crunch at the populational level.
All academic writers have some sort of revision process, but that process is often either insufficient (just nibbling around the edges) or scattershot (catching some things but missing others). To improve our revision practices, we generally have to both deepen them and make them more systematic.
My starting point here is the near impossibility of crafting reader-ready first drafts. If the material is conceptually complex, if you are still struggling to understand the implications of what you’ve learned, if the internal connections aren’t yet apparent to you, then the first draft is going to be clumsy. At that stage, the text will be something that you are still learning from rather than something that others can learn from. For most of us, making the transition from a text that helps you to a text that helps the reader takes multiple iterations. When I talk about needing to make a commitment to extensive revision, that choice of words…
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Joel Kallich of Big Health Data wrote me: Over the last 30 years, the government has been reluctant to release identifiable information, first on an
Life is a permanent flow: one has to let go the past and present in order to authorize freely the next event of one’s life to happen. If not, a damp will interrupt the flow, which is not a good thing from a sound and balanced living perspective.
One has to live a life which is intrinsically ever changing, and thus which is anxiety provoking.
The only thing that is permanent is one’s awareness of being present in the present moment, which by itself is a blessing one should be grateful for .
At that point meditation, wether by focusing on an action like breathing or walking or by observing with detachment the course of our thoughts and feelings created by our mind or by exercising compassion and loving kindness towards other sentient beings can be of some help.
By the way it has been demonstrated by neuro-scientists that meditation modifies the way the brain functions and even the size of some brain regions.
I read an article on this subject in the November 2014 edition of the journal Scientific American entitled Mind of the Meditator, authored by Mathieux Ricard a Buddhist Monk, Antoine Lutz a research scientist at the Frenh National Institute of Health and Medical Research and Richard J Davidson from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
They conclude that
“even with the requisite cautions, research on meditation provides new insights into methods of mental training that have the potential to enhance human health and well-being”