Longer Looks: Coronavirus Coverage And Female Expertise; Prison Reform; Doomscrolling; And More
Each week, KHN finds interesting reads from around the web.
Coronavirus Coverage And The Silencing Of Female Expertise
For a sweeping and much-lauded New York Times article on how the pandemic may play out over the next year, veteran science reporter Donald G. McNeil, Jr. consulted nearly two dozen experts in public health, medicine, epidemiology, and history. Initially, I only scanned the nearly 5,000-word story, and the names of experts sluiced by as I picked out predictive nuggets on lockdowns, death tolls, and vaccines. But after several women scientists called out McNeil for bias towards men on Twitter, I went back for a closer look. Sure enough, only two of 19 experts cited were women: Luciana Borio, a former director of medical and biodefense preparedness at the National Security Council, and Michele Barry, director of the Center for Innovation and Global Health at Stanford University. McNeil included quotes from both that mention family. (Carr, 6/22)
How A Group Of Lifers Cracked The Code Of Prison Reform
“This is going to be the rest of my life. They want me to die here.” Demel Dukes, a 41-year-old Detroiter and father of four, was sentenced to life in prison 18 years ago. For the past five, he’s been at the Chippewa Correctional Facility in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where hushed brick walls divide more than 1,000 beds inside from peaceable rural terrain outside. Just east on I-80, his own name happens to mark the landscape: Dukes Lake is half a mile away, nine acres of freshwater, popular for fishing. To him, it might as well be in another state. (Clark, 6/25)
Doomscrolling Is Slowly Eroding Your Mental Health
It's 11:37 p.m. and the pattern shows no signs of shifting. At 1:12 am, it’s more of the same. Thumb down, thumb up. Twitter, Instagram, and—if you’re feeling particularly wrought/masochistic—Facebook. Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic left a great many people locked down in their homes in early March, the evening ritual has been codifying: Each night ends the way the day began, with an endless scroll through social media in a desperate search for clarity. To those who have become purveyors of the perverse exercise, like The New York Times’ Kevin Roose, this habit has become known as doomsurfing, or “falling into deep, morbid rabbit holes filled with coronavirus content, agitating myself to the point of physical discomfort, erasing any hope of a good night’s sleep.” For those who prefer their despair be portable, the term is doomscrolling, and as protests over racial injustice and police brutality following the death of George Floyd have joined the Covid-19 crisis in the news cycle, it’s only gotten more intense. The constant stream of news and social media never ends. (Watercutter, 6/25)
The New York Times:
The V.A. Made Me Vomit. And That Was A Good Thing.
The psychiatrist was bald, with kind eyes, a silver goatee and the air of exhaustion that follows a person who works hard in a difficult field. It was March 2019, and having let an old prescription expire months earlier, I had gone to the Veterans Affairs hospital in Manhattan — my first time at a V.A. — hoping to get antidepressants. In a small, sparsely decorated office, the doctor and I faced each other across a wide desk. He told me about various V.A. programs — counseling, group therapy, a veterans’ yoga class, each accompanied by a flier — and described at length the V.A.’s crisis hotline. I appreciated his care, but I wasn’t there to break any new emotional ground; I really just wanted a prescription and to be on my way. I answered briskly as he worked through the questions any mental health worker asks you on a first visit. Did I have a history of anxiety or depression? Yes. Had I had thoughts of hurting myself or of suicide? Not really. Did anyone in my family have a history of mental health issues? (McCormick, 6/24)
In The Uncertainties Of Lyme Testing, Lessons For Covid-19
As a lyme patient, Jennifer Crystal has a lifetime of experience dealing with severe illness. So when the 42-year-old writer and patient advocate came down with what appeared to be a mild case of food poisoning in early March, she cancelled her weekend ski trip to New Hampshire, but otherwise shrugged it off. However, when the dizziness gave way to a fever, and vomiting became a racking cough, Crystal began to worry. Her illness began just as Massachusetts declared a state of emergency due to Covid-19, and because her use of public transit put her in contact with so many people each day, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was becoming another coronavirus statistic. (Arnold, 6/17)
Does Colloidal Silver Work For COVID-19?
To the silver salesmen, moms must have seemed like an ideal demographic. Last year, Candy Keane, a 44-year-old lifestyle blogger in Florida, heard about colloidal silver—silver particles suspended in liquid—from a mom’s group she’s part of. A company called My Doctor Suggests was sending out free samples of its products, including colloidal-silver solution, lozenges, lotion, and soap, to bloggers who might be willing to review the products online. Keane spoke with Doug Godkin, the vice president of My Doctor Suggests, who she says assured her that taking the silver was as harmless as taking a vitamin, and that the solution could help with all kinds of ailments. She remembers him saying it would be safe to drink up to a bottle a day. (Khazan, 6/22)