All posts tagged: medical professionals

When experts fail – The Atlantic

When experts fail – The Atlantic

This is an edition of The Atlantic Daily, a newsletter that guides you through the biggest stories of the day, helps you discover new ideas, and recommends the best in culture. Sign up for it here. In 2017, my Daily colleague Tom Nichols wrote a book titled The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters. Three years later, America underwent a crisis that stress-tested citizens’ and political leaders’ faith in experts—with alarming results. The Atlantic published an excerpt today from the second edition of Tom’s book, which includes a new chapter evaluating the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the relationship between experts and the public. I chatted with Tom recently about American narcissism, the mistakes experts have made during the pandemic, and why listening to expert advice is a responsibility of citizens in a democracy. First, here are three new stories from The Atlantic: Narcissism and Distrust Isabel Fattal: Why did you feel it was important after the COVID-19 crisis to rerelease this book? Tom Nichols: The book is …

When the Experts Failed During COVID-19

When the Experts Failed During COVID-19

Experts hate to be wrong. When I first started writing about the public’s hostility toward expertise and established knowledge more than a decade ago, I predicted that any number of crises—including a pandemic—might be the moment that snaps the public back to its senses. I was wrong. I didn’t foresee how some citizens and their leaders would respond to the cycle of advances and setbacks in the scientific process and to the inevitable limitations of human experts. The coronavirus pandemic, in particular, would prove the perfect crucible for accelerating the decline of faith in experts. Paranoia and appeals to ignorance have long been part of the American political environment, but they were especially destructive at a time when the U.S. was riven by partisan hostility. The pandemic struck at multiple political and cultural weaknesses within the edifice of American life: A mysterious disease—from China, no less, a nation that typically serves as a source of American anxiety—forced citizens to rely on the media, including outlets that many of them already distrusted, for scattered pieces of …

The Most Public Weight-Loss Journey in History

The Most Public Weight-Loss Journey in History

Nearly 13 years after the final episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, it’s easy to forget just how vicious the public scrutiny of Winfrey’s body was during her talk show’s decades-long run. But those memories haven’t left Winfrey, and they take center stage in her new prime-time special, Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution. “For 25 years, making fun of my weight was national sport,” she recalls in the opening monologue, which addresses the stigma of obesity and the emerging culture around weight-loss drugs. As evidence, she cites several tabloid headlines that ran while she was on the air: “‘Oprah—Fatter Than Ever’; ‘Oprah Hits 246 Pounds’; ‘Final Showdown With Steadman Sends Her Into Feeding Frenzy’; ‘Oprah Warned—Diet or Die.’” It wasn’t just weight gain that had inspired ridicule—in response to this relentless commentary, Winfrey staged gimmicky, sometimes dangerous segments devoted to her many attempts to lose weight. Most infamously, after losing 67 pounds on an all-liquid diet in 1988, she wheeled out a wagon containing 67 pounds of animal fat onstage. For years, she’s …

Anti-abortion Conservatives’ First Target If Trump Returns

Anti-abortion Conservatives’ First Target If Trump Returns

The Supreme Court’s upcoming decision about the most common pharmaceutical used for medication abortions may be just the beginning of the political battle over the drug. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of lower-court rulings that would severely reduce access to mifepristone. The Court’s acceptance of the case marked a crucial juncture in the legal maneuvering over the medication. But however the high court rules, pressure is mounting inside the GOP coalition for the next Republican president to broadly use executive authority at the Food and Drug Administration and the Justice Department to limit access to mifepristone and to reduce what abortion opponents call “chemical abortion.” “Chemical abortion will be front and center and presented front and center by the pro-life movement if there is a Republican president,” Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America, told me. “There is going to be a lot of action we want to see taken.” The possibility of new executive-branch restrictions on abortion drugs, which are now used in a majority …

It’s the Best Time in History to Have a Migraine

It’s the Best Time in History to Have a Migraine

Here is a straightforward, clinical description of a migraine: intense throbbing headache, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise, lasting for hours or days. And here is a fuller, more honest picture: an intense, throbbing sense of annoyance as the pain around my eye blooms. Wondering what the trigger was this time. Popping my beloved Excedrin—a combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine—and hoping it has a chance to percolate in my system before I start vomiting. There’s the drawing of the curtains, the curling up in bed, the dash to the toilet to puke my guts out. I am not a religious person, but during my worst migraines, I have whimpered at the universe, my hands jammed into the side of my skull, and begged it for relief. That probably sounds melodramatic, but listen: Migraines are miserable. They’re miserable for about 40 million Americans, most of them women, though the precise symptoms and their severity vary across sufferers. For about a quarter, myself included, the onset is sometimes preceded by an aura, a short-lived …