Category Archives: Health

How sympathy got displaced by scorn

Andrea Stanley writes: After Andreea’s mom died of COVID-19 in April, the harassment started. Noxious messages started coming in after she wrote a Facebook post letting friends and family know about her loss. One person messaged her to say they couldn’t believe her mother hadn’t protected herself. Andreea has since deleted most of the other… Read More »

School closures were a catastrophic error

Jonathan Chait writes: Recently, Nate Silver found himself in the unenviable role of main character of the day on Twitter because he proposed that school closures were a “disastrous, invasion-of-Iraq magnitude (or perhaps greater) policy decision.” The comparison generated overwhelming anger and mockery, and it is not an easy one to defend: A fiasco that… Read More »

Do the Omicron numbers mean what we think they mean?

Dhruv Khullar writes: More than a hundred and fifty thousand Americans are currently hospitalized with the coronavirus—a higher number than at any other point in the pandemic. But that figure, too, is not quite what it seems. Many hospitalized Covid patients have no respiratory symptoms; they were admitted for other reasons—a heart attack, a broken… Read More »

Can weed protect you from Covid?

Slate reports: Fikadu Tafesse wasn’t expecting to wake up on Wednesday to a text in which his former mentor blamed him for his children’s new interest in weed. Earlier this week, Tafesse, a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at Oregon Health & Science University, published evidence that some compounds found in cannabis plants could… Read More »

The world we want to live in after Covid

Dhruv Khullar writes: In 1909, the French ethnographer Arnold van Gennep published a book called “The Rites of Passage.” In it, he explored the rituals that cultures use to transition people from one stage of life to the next. Birth, puberty, graduation, religious initiation, marriage, pregnancy, promotions, the seasons—we’re always on the threshold of one… Read More »

The forgotten medieval habit of ‘two sleeps’

Zaria Gorvett writes: In the 17th Century, a night of sleep went something like this. From as early as 21:00 to 23:00, those fortunate enough to afford them would begin flopping onto mattresses stuffed with straw or rags – alternatively it might have contained feathers, if they were wealthy – ready to sleep for a… Read More »

Global spread of autoimmune disease blamed on Western diet

The Guardian reports: More and more people around the world are suffering because their immune systems can no longer tell the difference between healthy cells and invading micro-organisms. Disease defences that once protected them are instead attacking their tissue and organs. Major international research efforts are being made to fight this trend – including an… Read More »

Omicron isn’t mild for the health-care system

Ed Yong writes: When a health-care system crumbles, this is what it looks like. Much of what’s wrong happens invisibly. At first, there’s just a lot of waiting. Emergency rooms get so full that “you’ll wait hours and hours, and you may not be able to get surgery when you need it,” Megan Ranney, an… Read More »

Here’s the real deal on flurona

Jaime Green writes: Two years of pandemic have us primed to panic at every headline. A new variant, a new complication, a new baffling policy move. Now, headlines have brought an alarmingly exotic new word to stoke our fears: flurona. On Sunday the Times of Israel published an article with the headline, “‘Flurona’: Israel Records… Read More »

The therapeutic value of swearing

Stephen Tuffin writes: When I was a kid, swearing was taboo – except for that one time when my dad, a hulking great navvy of a man, took me down the yard where they kept all the equipment road workers used out on the roads, and I witnessed the cutting down of a tree. An… Read More »

One woman’s six-word mantra that has helped to calm millions

Judith Hoare writes: [Dr Claire] Weekes distilled her understanding of ‘nervous illness’ into a six-word mantra for overcoming anxiety: face, accept, float, let time pass. In Self-Help for Your Nerves, she said that sufferers usually spent their time counterproductively: Running away, not facing. Fighting, not accepting. Arresting and ‘listening in’, not floating past. Being impatient… Read More »