I recently went to a town meeting on Open Access (OA) and our Institutional Repository (IR). (Universities and colleges have our own town meetings, because we’re basically our own mini-towns). This meeting spurred me on to do a bit of a blog post on OA and IRs. I’ll first give a brief explanation of OA and IRs, including links to some resources for more information, and wrap up with my own thoughts.
OA is the concept and movement within academia that access to academic literature should be free online and free of most copyright restrictions. The idea is that for knowledge to flourish the exchange of ideas should be as free and fluid as possible. Because this is a concept and movement this means that not everyone agrees with this idea. Agreement and support of OA also varies drastically by area of specialty. The sciences are the most supportive of OA, particularly Physics. This is evident by the existence of the website arXiv.org, which provides “open access to 792,606 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance and Statistics.” The humanities are less so. This has to do with the culture of the different disciplines. The sciences are more focused on teamwork and sharing new knowledge as quickly as possible, whereas the humanities tend to be more concerned with ruminating on ideas. The pace is simply faster in the sciences than in the humanities, and OA is more useful in that environment.
Utilizing and supporting OA comes across in a few different ways. There are OA journals, which are free to use, but not necessarily free to submit an article to. To those concerned, the submission fee does not guarantee acceptance of an article. It is simply there to help the OA journals function. Studies on the percentage of OA journals charging a fee vary rather widely on their final numbers. These fees are of concern to faculty members, though, because they can quickly go through grant money that could have been used in other ways just paying submission fees. Although there originally was concern as to the quality of OA journals, OA does not negate peer-review. There are many peer-reviewed and respected journals; the PLOS ones in particular spring to mind, but you can see a listing of all OA journals at the Directory of Open Access Journals. Academics can support OA both by submitting to and reading OA journals, and institutions can support OA by giving articles published in OA journals equal consideration when doing tenure reviews.
OA can be pursued in traditional publishing as well, however. Frequently faculty members do not fully understand what is happening with their copyright when they sign contracts with a publisher. The creator owns the copyright of an item at the moment of creation. He or she does not need to register it. This is not always clear to people because from 1923 to 1963 (in the US) you did have to register your copyright and re-register it every 28 years. Anything published before 1923 in the US is officially in the public domain aka free of copyright. This is why mashups such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies can happen. What all this means is that the author of the paper owns copyright until they sign it over to the publisher, and they do not have to kowtow to all of the demands of the publisher. OA advocates encourage authors to return the contract to the publisher unsigned with a SPARC Addendum attached. This addendum gives the publisher some rights over the paper/article/book while retaining some for the author. What this essentially means is that the author retains certain rights over his or her article that most faculty members think they have anyway. Only now it’s legal. For instance, this addendum gives the author permission to deposit their paper in an Institutional Repository or include it in a group of pdfs of publications on their personal website, as long as it is properly cited to the journal of first publication.
A popular way for publishers to support OA while still staying in business, beyond agreeing to SPARC Addendums, is the concept of an embargo. An embargo means that articles are available exclusively through subscription and fees for a set period of time (usually from 6 months to 2 years), and after that point they are available through OA. The qualm some advocates of OA have with this model is that for certain fields of study, particularly in the sciences, the embargo period is long enough that the article will be practically irrelevant by the time it is available openly, thereby defeating the whole purpose of encouraging collaboration and free flow of ideas behind OA to begin with.
So what do Institutional Repositories (IRs) have to do with OA? An IR is a curated collection of all academic publishing, as well as collections such as photographs taken by anthropologists, created by scholars associated with the institution. The IR is the institution’s research portfolio. It’s important for the institution to be able to demonstrate to interested parties the valuable work their scholars are doing. The connection to OA is that the current restrictive copyright contracts publishers send to authors frequently make it impossible to include their works in the IR. The SPARC Addendum addresses this, but an institution can also address this concern by making it a mandate that all scholarly work done while at their institution be deposited in the repository. This gives the author a prior commitment that is usually already covered in the contract. A pioneer in the world of IRs is MIT’s IR: DSpace. Check them out to get a feel for what an IR is like.
So what do I think about all of this? I can understand and sympathize with all three sides (universities, scholars, and publishers). The publishers are concerned that they will go out of business if everything is available immediately in OA. As an indie author, I can easily see how valid that concern is. Frankly if OA does take off the way, say, literary zines have, most journals will go out of business. Yes a few big name zines are still surviving, and most zines also sell a print version and do alright with that, but publishing as we know it must change for OA to take hold. Of course one doesn’t want that in one’s own industry.
I can also understand the dual view scholars hold. Academic journals are peer-reviewed, and while OA journals can be, they aren’t necessarily. OA can seem like a scary free-for-all with no verification of facts or quality. Things don’t always become popular because they’re good. But on the other hand if your audience is other scholars, aka the peer part of peer-review, then it should work itself out anyway. Not to mention the fact that OA journals can mandate peer-review if they want to. Similarly, I get it that scholars usually want to share their work with anyone interested and to that end want to post the pdfs on their website. The problem is, though, if a person can get your article just by googling it and going to you instead of the publisher then we’re right back to putting the publisher who published you in the first place out of business. But if publishing changes the way we think it will, then that would be a moot point anyway.
As far as IRs go, I truly see their value for gray literature. Things like posters from poster sessions, dissertations and theses that are frequently not available or searchable otherwise, etc… but I also think an institution obsessively collecting a copy of everything every scholar has done is a bit redundant. Not that the institution shouldn’t ever broaden to that level of collection and archiving, but since IRs are so new, it might be better to focus in on the gray literature for now.
Overall though the change won’t really happen until institutions start accepting OA publications in the tenure process. Until that point all scholars must publish in traditional journals in order to secure tenure. It seems to me that the power is really in the hands of the universities. The universities must decide: what do we want true scholarship and academic achievement look like in the 21st century?
Book Review: Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy
My new library (where I work as a librarian) serves a school of public health. Working with these students has opened up a whole new world of science to me. Public health is a fascinating combination of medicine, science, culture, and communication. So when I saw this public health book on Netgalley, I knew I needed to give it a shot.
This is a completely fascinating book. Prior to reading it, my main knowledge of rabies came from that episode of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman where her adopted son’s dog gets rabies and bites her other adopted son’s fiancee. I didn’t really understand how much of a plague it used to be, but I did know that you’re required to get your pets vaccinated for it.
I learned SO MUCH from this book! And it wasn’t a struggle to read or absorb the information either. Wasik and Murphy strike that hard to find balance in writing science for the layman. They explain complex, scientific things without so much scientific terminology as to be a struggle for the average reader but with enough so that you’ve still learned something. For instance:
With most zoonotic leaps in disease, animal contact is the spark, but urbanization is the bone-dry tinder; a newly evolved pathogen can’t spread from person to person, after all, unless people run across one another in the first place. (location 453)
There are a few passages that use more scientific terminology than that, but they only use them after explaining them. You do not have to be a scientist to be able to read, enjoy, and learn from this book.
The basic structure of the book is typical of a history book. In fact, think of it kind of as a scientific history book. It starts with the earliest accounts of rabies and moves up through time to the present. The strongest passages are: Greco-Roman history of the disease, Dark Ages history of the disease, Pasteur’s creation of a vaccination, and the modern day outbreak in Bali. These strike the perfect balance of discussing the understanding and treatment of the disease and the reflections of rabies and fear of rabies in popular culture of that time period.
For instance, in the Greco-Roman period we learn:
Pliny’s thoughts tend to involve using the animal to treat the man. His best-known cure—to “insert in the wound ashes of hairs from the tail of the dog that inflicted the bite”—lives on today in our expression “hair of the dog,” referring to a not-quite-so-dubious hangover remedy. (location 473)
Or this fascinating bit of public health history in the Pasteur section:
Pasteur’s collaborator Roux believed that Pasteur selected rabies as a subject for research as a calculated bit of stagecraft, so that his ideas about vaccination would attract maximum public interest. (location 1714)
The other sections, particularly the era after the vaccine to about the 1980s, suffer a bit from a lack of focus and direction. There’s a part where the authors try to convince us that zombies are a reflection of a latent fear of rabies. Ok? But that’s rather speculative compared to the rest of the book. There are other elements of pop culture that are nowhere near as loosely connected that they discuss, such as the actual rabies books and movies that came out in the UK when the Chunnel was put in and people were afraid that rabid animals would come over to the island nation from France. That is a tight, interesting connection. The zombie one was a bit of a stretch. I was more interested in more information on things like Old Yeller and why the authors think that even with the vaccine in the US and very little threat at the time the public still was fascinated with the idea of a rabid dog.
The book also explores other zoonotic diseases (diseases that originate in non-human animals). Although this is also technically not rabies, this connection makes a lot more sense, particularly since more started cropping up in the 20th century after rabies was beaten down by vaccination. The knowledge we have from working against rabies and promoting vaccination of it via public health initiatives could really help with things like HIV/AIDS and H1N1. This is using past public health experience to aid in future endeavors, which helps give the book a certain umph and validity for modern readers.
So, although the book struggles a bit during the early 20th century time period, the rest of it is very well put-together. It is written at the appropriate level for a popular science history book. It is easy to learn from and includes lots of fascinating tid-bits in addition to the basic rabies history and information. It also demonstrates as a kind of side-story the history of public health. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in the history of rabies, the history of vaccination, and most especially to those with an interest in public health issues.
4 out of 5 stars
The Neuroscience of Autism and Learning Disabilities (Science Librarian Boot Camp 2012 Tufts University)
Instead of inundating you with my notes from yet another professional development session, I decided to select out my favorite part to share with you all. Out of everything I did in the Science Librarian Boot Camp, I enjoyed the Neuroscience presentations the most. So, here they are. Enjoy!
“Genetics of Neurodevelopmental Disorders,” Dr. Anthony Moncao, Tufts University
- Genetics studies Genes. Neurodevelopment studies Proteins and Regulatory DNA. Imagining studies the Brain. Psychiatry studies Behavior.
- Genes aren’t determinative. They interact with the environment.
- There is very strong evidence that genetic factors increase risk.
- Susceptibility genes–genes that with environmental factors increase risk for these diseases
- How do we find susceptibility genes?
- Identify a chromosomal translocator and neurodevelopmental disorder.
- Copy number variants –> Deletion or addition/duplication of material. We all have these in some variation but in some instances they hit important areas. They are inherited or de novo (neither parent had it).
- What is “strict” Autism?
- Impairment in: verbal and nonverbal communication, reciprocal social interaction, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of interest (don’t ilke change)
- Onset before 3 years
- male to female ratio: 4 to 1
- Autism Spectrum includes Asperger Syndrome, PDD-NOS (removed from DSM5)
- Autism Spectrum has a combined incidence of about 1%
- 5% of Autism Spectrum disorders are comorbid with Fragile X, Tuberous Sclerosis, Down’s, muscular dystrophy, and other Mandelian disorders.
- What are the genetic factors in Autism?
- heritability is about 85 to 92%
- rate among siblings is 3 to 9%
- It is one of the most strongly genetic of childhood-onset psychiatric disorders.
- No evidence yet for genes with variants in all forms of Autism.
- Hardly any two autistic kids are gonna be the same (genetically).
- Many of these genes are important in synapses.
- Cadherin 8 (CDH8) is probably the culprit in these microdeletions.
- Variable expressivity –> a deleted gene can cause multiple different outcomes (autsim, learning disorder, etc…) so evidence is strong environment is a factor
- Future prospects include: Cohorts, sequencing, translation, use of rare CNVs diagnostically, genetic counseling, early intervention for sibs, CNVs may help us predict the outcome.
- Projected future difficulties include: CNVs are common, so we have to be sure the one we’re calling Autism really is. Ethical issues of testing children before they have any symptoms.
- Autism has very complex etiology.
- Collaboration is important to make progress.
- Specific Language Impairment.
- Just as frequent as dyslexia/autism.
- It is a difficulty acquiring expressive and/or receptive language despite adequate intelligence and no physical problems (ie deafness). Problems in producing and comprehending speech, problems reading, normal nonverbal IQs.
- It has an almost 100% heritability.
- Inheritance is simple but complex phenotype.
- The damaged gene –> FOXP2
- A transcription factor.
- Important in how the rest of the gene is regulated. Kind of like a master switch.
- Not the gene for speech (found in nonverbal species but important in vocalizations. Mice won’t squeak properly. Songbirds can’t learn songs if it is damaged.)
- FOXP2 inhibits CNTNAP2 from being expressed (Sitting on it and not letting it make RNA).
- Where is FOXP2 expressed in the brain? In the basal ganglia, phallus, cerebellum (motor centers).
- Chimps are more similar to mice than humans in this gene.
- FOXP2 is a regulatory gene. Its downstream targets offer entrypoints into neural pathways involved in speech and language.
- Developmental Dyslexia.
- It is a diagnosis of exclusion.
- 5% of schoolchildren have it.
- Males are 3 to 4 times more effected than females.
- Gene variant is two times as frequent in dyslexics as in controls.
- Variants in KIAA0319 repress the expression of the gene.
- These variants increase risk in reading problems in the general population.
- May inhibit migration of neurons to the right are of the cortex.
- ectopia–small bundles of neurons in the wrong area of the cortex
- 4 dyslexia susceptibility genes have been found so far.
- All 4 play a role in neuronal migration and/or axonal growth.
- DNA is not determinative. There are many other factors involved.
“Neuroimaging of Children’s Brains,” Dr. Jean Frazier, UMass Med
- Goal: To explore how neuroimaging techniques provide insight into potential biomarkers for childhood onset neuropsychiatric disorders.
- Basic principles of brain development: structures start small, get big, then get small again
- 8 to 14 is an important age range.
- They exuberate then prune, and it is the pruning that is important.
- The more complicated a process is the more potential it could go awry.
- Pruning is guided by “use it or lose it.”
- The exact timing varies by structure.
- birth to 3–time of rapid intellectual, emotional, and physical growth of brain and brain wiring
- by age 6–95% of brain development completed
- 8 to 13–2nd major brain growth spurt
- 13 to 20s–pruning to organizing, especially in frontal cortex.
- We can measure things that require energy using: PET, SPECT, fMRI, EEG, MEG
- What MRI can tell us: structure, metabolites, blood flow, connectivity
- MRS–noninvasive, analytic method to measure chemicals within body parts
- If we are going to fully appreciate what is going wrong in brains, we have to fully understand what is going right in brains.
- Whereas gray matter gets pruned, white matter increases.
- Less gray matter, brain becomes more efficient.
- But what happens in atypical development?
- More blood flow in amygdala of depressed and anxious.
- amygdala–governs ability to modulate our affect
- Bipolars have abnormal connectivity in brain, especially in areas dealing with affect regulation and attentional capacity.
- Application to Autism?
- Recommends “Localization of white matter volume increase in autism and developmental language disorder” in Annals of Neurology by Herbert et al
- Children with autism have more white matter.
- Tracks most severely affected in Autism are growing/changing just after birth.
- Biomarkers are a distinct characteristic that is an indicator of a particular biological condition or process.
- Maybe the genetic risk factors are indicators of the dysfunction not the disorder.
- Both schizophrenia and autism symptom is social withdrawal.
- 1 in 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls (1 in 88 children) have Autism Spectrum, according to study from 2008
- Inhibition of GABA and excitation of Glutamate are associated with autism.
- Tuberous make too little of a certain protein. Fragile X makes too much.
- Glutamate levels are higher in Autism.
- Biomarkers could be used as predictors for treatment response.
Hello my lovely readers!
This week I haven’t seen much of my library since I’ve been participating in the Science Librarian Boot Camp. I’ll be posting my notes from the Neuroscience section next week, since I think those were the most interesting (at least so far). Perhaps the capstone this morning will be inspiring as well and make the grade too though.
It’s been great to see some of my librarian friends this week, although the Boot Camp was a bit of a struggle. I’ve been experimenting with eating less dairy for multiple reasons (primarily health). I ate quite a bit of dairy on the first day of the conference and subsequently had a flare-up of my IBS. Not pleasant, trust me. :-/ It was frustrating and frankly hard on me emotionally. I’ve struggled with this syndrome for so many years and just when I think it’s mostly under control, something happens again. Although I am passionate about heath, it is frankly sometimes difficult to have to be so incredibly strict on my diet, stress level, sleep amount, etc…. or pay the consequence of being physically ill almost immediately. Trust me, I wish I could indulge in gluttony periodically with the only consequence being a few extra miles on the treadmill! But I know in the grand scheme of things it’s a minor thing to have to deal with, and I am lucky that Boston is such a mecca of vegan food. The key for me, I think, will be figuring out how much indulgence is acceptable to my body. Nobody can be strict all the time! In the meantime, FSM bless Boston for having indulgences like vegan cupcakes.
I also guess this just means I’m going to have to start requesting vegan food at the conferences.
This weekend I’m hoping to see one of my good friends, resume work on my next novel (tentacles, oh my!), and of course gym it. Happy weekends!
Warin, an anthropologist, takes an entirely new approach to anorexia, looking it from a purely cultural and anthropological perspective. She spends a couple of years interviewing women with anorexia at various points in the life of the illness from early treatment to recovery to relapse. In this way she analyzes not just the culture of women and men suffering from anorexia but also how anorexia is a response to the culture these people find themselves in.
This was my first read from the holdings of my new workplace. The instant I saw the title and book cover, I knew I needed to read it. The anthropology of anorexia? How fascinating!
It’s interesting that I feel I actually learned a bit more about anthropology than anorexia from this book, but perhaps that is because I am more familiar with the latter than the former. From my work in psychiatry and as a mental illness advocate, I was already aware that people suffering from anorexia have their own culture. I still highly valued seeing this presented in an academic fashion with a respect for the people involved. I commend Warin for her ability to interact with these women and glean a sense of how they came to be who they are now with a respect for them as people that is all too rare to see in this type of work.
So what of the anthropology then? What are abject relations? Over the course of the book I learned that abject relations are ambiguous relations.
What is abject is in between, ambiguous, and composite. Abjection is thus contrary to dualist concepts because it undermines and threatens that which is separate. As such, abjection is fundamentally concerned with the complexities and contradictions of relatedness. (page 184)
Whereas most books about eating disorders attempt to say THIS definitively caused it, this book’s premise is that the etiology is entirely ambiguous. What caused it, what makes it persist, what it is to suffer from anorexia. Nothing about it is clear-cut. That is the powerful statement of the book. There are no easy answers to anorexia, but we can do much more to understand it both as its own culture and as an aspect of our own.
This focus on anorexia as a response to the mainstream culture and a formation of a new culture leads Warin to question a lot of the inpatient treatment techniques. Warin sees anorexia as frequently about women attempting to assert a right to control over their own bodies that goes horribly awry, ripping the control out of society’s or tormentor’s hands, into their own, into ana’s hands, then into the hands of an authority figure again at treatment. Warin sees value in helping people suffering from anorexia recover in the context of society. Instead of feeding them alone in a single room have them cook and eat together in a group. This reenforces the cultural and connecting aspect of eating that they have been denying for so long.
It is an interesting idea to look at anorexia as an abject cultural response, but I don’t think it’s one that is quite as unique or revolutionary as Warin seems to think. Whereas there have always been those who think anorexia is the ultimate kowtowing to what society deems feminine, there have also been those who view it as women protecting themselves from being perceived as feminine, from having unwanted interactions with those who would objectify them. Perhaps it is really both, which is what makes it so hard to treat. I believe this is what Warin is trying to say, although she is often not as clear as she could be. She gets caught up in academic jargon. She is at her strongest when simply organizing her interactions with the women into themes and presenting them to the reader to do with what they will.
Overall, for an academic look at anorexia this is unique in that it is an anthropological study instead of a psychiatric one. Looking at a group of people who are a group simply because they share the same illness and studying their anthropology is a truly fascinating concept. The book is scientific, but it is social science and is thus easy enough for the mainstream reader to follow. It provides the human aspect of anorexia without sensationalizing. Anyone with an interest in eating disorders or anthropology will enjoy this book.
4 out of 5 stars
Source: Work Library
Allow me to preface my review by saying that although I am not a scientist, my profession is that of a medical librarian, so scientific jargon is not new to me. I would therefore say my understanding of science is somewhere above average American but below actual scientist. I had the impression from the description that this book is written by a scientist for public consumption aka the average American. It misses the mark.
The content is great and informative, but it is couched in such an overload of scientific jargon and an assumption of an above average understanding of how the human body works that it was incredibly difficult to get through in order to glean out the interesting information. Thank goodness I had the kindle version and could look up words easily as I went, or I would have given up within the first chapter. Additionally, just when things were starting to get interesting, such as with how DDT impacts development in utero, Monosson would switch topics. Very frustrating!
That said, I did learn quite a bit from this book. It was just difficult to get to these understandable tidbits given the writing style and structure. Here are a few interesting things I learned:
Like some pervasive computer operating systems, p53 is an archetypical example of the unintelligent design and compromise that is inherent in evolution—a multifunctional, multipurpose transcriptional coordinator that has only lately been retasked to the job of tumor suppression in large, long-lived orgasms….At the end of the day p53, together with all our other suppressor mechanisms, fails half of humanity. (location 1314)
Though two species may share a common ancestor and hence a common ancestral receptor or enzyme, once they part ways on the family tree, the branches evolve independently. (location 1670)
For a genetically male mammal to come out looking and functioning male, he requires in utero exposure to hormones like testosterone and its more potent derivative, dihydrotestosterone, along with a functioning AR. An embryo lacking either hormones or a properly functioning AR (or exposed to chemicals that disrupt either receptor or hormone production) will take on a female appearance, despite possessing a Y chromosome….work by Kelce, Gray, and others revealed that a metabolite of the pesticide DDT was an even more potent inhibitor of the AR than was vinclozolin. Given the ubiquity of DDT and its metabolites, this was a potentially explosive finding. (location 1716)
If our CYP enzymes are increasingly metabolizing a variety of pharmaceuticals, what happens when we add one more, or change our diet, or breathe in chemicals like polyaromatics bound to micron-sized air pollution particulates? (location 2509)
Ultimately though, although I learned a lot, the reading experience itself was a bit daunting for the average American. I believe this book would best be enjoyed by a scientist for whom evolution is not their normal research area. They thus would have an easier time with the jargon, but also not already know what Monosson is talking about.
3 out of 5 stars
Book Review: The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II
Dr. Campbell spent the early part of his scientific career researching diseases of affluence such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. When a study in rat livers demonstrated that a greater percentage of protein in the diet led to greater disease, Campbell became intrigued. He designed the China Study to compare Chinese citizens with American citizens, since the Chinese have low rates of these diseases until they immigrate to the United States. Through this and other studies, he believes he has the proof that most diseases of affluence are caused by the Standard American Diet. In his book he presents these findings, as well as an insider’s look at the scientific, health, and government trifecta that vastly affects what Americans learn about health.
Clearly the most valuable part of this book is the chapter that explains Campbell’s China Study. Since it’s generally not considered ethical to study humans and disease by injecting them with various substances, one of the better methods available is population studies. You compare and contrast over a long period of time the differences between different populations and attempt to determine what aspects may cause bad health. It is undeniable that the traditional Chinese rural population compared to Americans eat less animal products and move more. Additionally they have less disease, particularly cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. Campbell’s study establishes this easily observed fact into something that has been scientifically proven. It is also interesting to note that those who emigrate to the US and adopt the Standard American Diet (SAD) change to the American rate of these diseases. This is ground-breaking information, of course, but it is easy to gather this all from one chapter. Campbell finds it necessary, for some reason, to devote a chapter to each illness, which frankly gets repetitive and tedious to read.
Beyond the study itself, which is interesting and good for people who aren’t already convinced of the health problems caused by animal products, I felt the rest of the presentation of these facts to be dull in comparison to Diet for a New America. Where Campbell’s strength lies is in discussing his experiences as an insider in the American health and scientific industry, which frankly we all know is royally fucked up. He addresses at length how these have become intertwined with the government and animal product lobbyists to the extent that for the sake of profit of animal product producers and those working in medicine, Americans are getting a severely watered down version of what scientists and health care workers know to be the facts. Anytime anyone tries to tell Americans to eat less animal products, the lobbyists get all up in the way. This is why people talk about how capitalism should not be involved in health. It’s only natural that people who have spent decades learning cardiology might not want to suddenly have half the surgeries to perform because heart disease can be reversed by diet. Or that people who own a dairy farm might not want American women to know that dairy consumption leads to osteoporosis. But it does. And Campbell illustrates why and how these facts are kept from the American public.
He also eloquently shows why we have constantly conflicting news stories on health. Everyone knows the joke about how eggs were bad for you then good for you then bad for you (but only the yolks) all over again. Campbell shows how this is the direct result of the conflict within the science and health industry.
I have come to the conclusion that when it comes to health, government is not for the people; it is for the food industry and the pharmaceutical industry at the expense of the people. It is a systemic problem where industry, academia and government combine to determine the health of this country. (page 318)
I have worked in the health field myself for years now, and I can tell you, the vast majority of the people who do genuinely care about you and your health. But traditions are hard to break and even those within the system don’t know everything that goes on among the lobbyists and the top echelons. I mean, they are still teaching medical students to utilize BMI to determine health in their patients, when multiple studies have shown it is not a reliable tool. Why is this? People want to believe what they’ve first learned, and especially in medicine, if a new idea comes along many many many studies must be done and obstinate people push for it before the method utilized will be changed. This is meant to protect you from quacks, but unfortunately it can lead to the burying of ground-breaking information.
Plus, how would Americans react if tomorrow Mrs. Obama and her obesity prevention program came out and said everyone needs to go vegetarian or vegan? Hell, the woman is taking flak for daring to suggest children play outside. I think you can see my point.
Overall, this book definitely could have been shorter. I believe it would have worked better if Campbell had presented his study and his insider’s knowledge as to why the health care and science industries seem so confused and conflicting half the time. I hope this knowledge will convince more Americans to take direct control of their own health and conduct their own research to come to their own conclusions. It’s worth a read for this knowledge, but if you are not interested in the politics of science and health and simply want the information, then I suggest you go with the more reader-friendly Diet for a New America.
4 out of 5 stars
Source: Public Library
Both my Academic Librarianship and Librarianship for Science and Technology classes have been discussing the move in academia and science toward interdisciplinary work and research. Why would a bunch of librarians be discussing that? Well, how our patrons work and study directly impacts how we help them accomplish what they need to do. For years the disciplines were clearly stratified, and that led to the creation of separate spaces for different disciplines–particularly separating science and the humanities. Now that interdisciplinary work is in vogue some libraries and librarians are trying to mesh the branches and library spaces back together again. I’m not so sure that’s the best idea.
People need to feel not just welcomed but also at home in a place if it’s going to become a home away from home. If we want repeat patrons, patrons who come and stick around, patrons who get excited about the library and want to learn to use the resources, then having a vast undefined space isn’t going to cut it. People like their space to reflect who they are. It’s cool for a scientist to walk into a room and see brain models. It’s fun for a women’s studies student to walk in and see a poster of Margaret Mead. Sure, both of those things can be in one room, but at the academic or special library level that reads as unfocused. Not to mention the ease of use that results from being in the science library and knowing that the librarians present are specialists in your area of study. In an integrated library, you might luck out and get the science librarian on the reference desk, but it’s equally likely that you’d get the history librarian. Sure, they could go get the science librarian or have you make an appointment with her, but that’s not as easy, is it?
Similarly in the virtual world it’s a lot easier to quickly use a website geared toward a specific audience than to use one geared toward everyone. That’s why public libraries have sections of their website devoted to children, teens, and adults. They could make one page dedicated to everybody, but that would be hard to do and hard to use. Now I know you’re thinking that just because an academic library is planning on integrating all its branches into one building it doesn’t mean that they won’t create multiple websites for different users. Well, I ask, if you wouldn’t do that online, why would you do it physically?
I’m not saying there isn’t a place for interdisciplinary spaces in the academic and special libraries. There absolutely is. I love the idea of study spaces designed for interdisciplinary work, but what I like even more is the idea of an interdisciplinary branch library with a librarian or two specializing in interdisciplinary work. That would be truly helpful to our patrons, not eliminating all distinction altogether.