I’ve been traveling a lot the last few weeks and so have had ample opportunity to read questionable magazines that I pick up in lieu of reading things that will make me smarter. People Magazine is definitely a brain cell killer, although one of my faves. Rolling Stone has the occasional really smart article, but I read it mainly for street cred. I could read the JAMA issue I have shoved in my briefcase but I wouldn’t want to wake it up.
Last week I picked up Time Magazine’s big fat glossy “100 New Health Discoveries” issue, now on news stands. it is 112 pages of “the latest breakthroughs that can improve your health and wellness,” all packaged up for a consumer audience, which I thought very interesting. There are some pretty sophisticated thoughts in this booklet, considering it was sitting between Us Magazine (favorite headline this week: Jessica Alba: My Daughter Ate Her Diaper When She Was A Baby) and Sports Illustrated’s Pre-Sochi Olympics issue, complete with lycra-clad ski hottie on the cover. It’s a big risk to think that people would actually pay $13 for this special issue of Time, which has pictures of brains and heart scans on the cover and no lycra in sight. Granted, the issue does cover sex, but it is buried on page 90 between Outbreaks and Ecosystems, so hardly consumer-directed. Us and Sports Illustrated have sex on the cover, so they are not messing around.
The Time booklet is interesting, as it covers some pretty important issues, such as the recent debate over who should use statins, changing views on autism, the rise of superbacteria and some creepy camel-borne disease that is like SARS; note to self: do not take camel-ride at zoo. Ok, there is goofy stuff in here too, such as the life-changing pursuit of the answer to the question, “Are Selfies Unhealthy, or Just Silly?” but there are also important questions such as “Is Chemo on its Way Out?”
I was particularly intrigued by how much technology has crept into the consumer-focused discourse on healthcare issues. There is an interesting discussion of how Facebook is being used to track the spread of the flu virus, for instance, and health apps, as well as a discussion of the ever-present wearable technology craze and even e-cigarettes, which had a large presence in the exhibits at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January. It appears technology is here to stay in healthcare, finally, and that it isn’t only for Chief Technology Officers anymore if Time Magazine is writing about it.
I appreciated the Time booklet because it makes an attempt to bring important medical issues to the masses and it does a decent job of it, although I suspect some of the articles are challenging for those who aren’t health wonks. The issue of poor healthcare literacy is a serious one and one that we in the US have done precious little to solve. I actually have a post brewing on this very serious topic that will show up soon, I hope.
But for now, I offer up The Onion’s view of what the coolest part of the body is, spoken in the true voice of the masses in their piece this week entitled, “New Study Shows Bones Are Incredibly Cool.” The short video is pretty funny, particularly the way it mocks real scientific discovery and press interaction (“Doctors at Johns Hopkins have completed a ten-year study, determining that bones are the coolest part of the human body”). Ah, I love the Onion, and it’s Friday, so I’m going for laughs over deep thought. Happy weekend!