Hits & Misses – 2008/12/16

The More They Scan, the More They See. This is actually an interesting problem, explained exquisitely (as usual) by Gina Kolata in a piece in the New York Times:

Scans – more sensitive and easily available than ever – are increasingly finding abnormalities that may not be the cause of the problem for which they are blamed.

"Oh, my God, look at all those abnormalities. They might be dangerous," said one doctor. "Some are, some aren't, but it ends up leading to a lot of care that's unnecessary."

But how does anyone know what's abnormal? Patients getting scans are people with problems. Most people don't get a scan if they are feeling just fine.

A Touch of Class. "Imagine you're in a dark room, running your fingers over a smooth surface in search of a single dot the size of this period. How high do you think the dot must be for your finger pads to feel it? A hundredth of an inch above background? A thousandth?" [link]

Answer: One micron high, or 1/400,000th of an inch.

Some Chinese Get Mental Health Care, Even if They Don't Need It.

Local officials in Shandong Province have apparently found a cost-effective way to deal with gadflies, whistle-blowers and all manner of muckraking citizens who dare to challenge the authorities: dispatch them to the local psychiatric hospital. [link]

Comments (5)

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  1. Joe S. says:

    I can’t resist this.

    The Chinese are giving a whole new meaning to the idea of mental health parity. In this case, parity means almost anyone can qualify.

  2. Brent says:

    I agree with you on Gina Kolata. She almost never disappoints.

  3. Ken says:

    Joe, it gives a whole new meaning to the idea of equal opportunity commitment.

  4. Bart says:

    The Soviet system, but without the finesse.

  5. Janaina says:

    Posted on I. LOVE. YOU.Honest. You ALL are my heros. Absolutely. Even though I just found your blog (thank you, Homemade Hilarity), this is one I will never miss.You so rock! I can’t tell you how much I aietpcpare you guys and your sense of style? Humor? Everything??You are goddesses. I mean that. This blog and all the contributors could not have ended my year better. This is just so awesome!! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who does this I just need to find a husband to blame. Everyone already knows I wouldn’t let my kids anywhere near a stove/oven/anything hot or having to do with fire. This is priceless!!THANK YOU!!(Not that you’re making up a husband to blame this on.) 🙂