Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Saturday, 31 July 2010

NHS Choices - Behind the Headlines: party at the Hunterian, RCS

A couple of nights ago I wangled a last minute ticket to an event at the Hunterian Museum celebrating NHS Choices' Behind the Headlines which has been running for five years now. Originally it was to have been a going home and washing my hair sort of evening, but one colleague had to drop out and the invitation was extended to me. I turned up a bit casual whereas everyone else was froofed up to the nines but that's what happens with the last minuteness...

Behind the Headlines is a wonderful service - it's like having on-call nerds going through media reports of a health story, and going through the original published article as well and putting it in context. Extremely helpful and I use the service a lot, in terms of forwarding people towards someone else's take on something good or bad that's got into the newspapers or online.

The evening was for science communicators - largely journalists, and communicators from medical research and other science/health-promoting charities (Diabetes UK, Cancer Research UK, Wellcome, AMRC, Prostate Cancer charity - didn't get to meet them though and Sense About Science).

I arrived early enough to wander around and have a good look at the fascinating and gruesome items on display in the museum. Lovely old glass jars, many oval shaped rather than round which was new to me, most of them had a thick black band round the top which presumably sealed the lid to the jar. There were plenty of bits and pieces of pickled people and animals, including an eerily lifelike part of a child's face. After death the tissue had been injected with a dye to bring out the blood vessels and I've never seen anything quite like it - but for the fact that it was obviously an incomplete face it looked just like a child with its eyes shut. There was also the Irish giant, the skeleton of someone who reached 7ft7in and umpteen pickled foetuses and stillborn babies. Lots of bits of chickens, rats, tortoises, water voles etc. too.

While there I also got chatting to Dr Alicia White, of Bazian, who wrote a series of suggested 'how not to get the wrong idea from stuff written in some newspapers' which Ben Goldacre helpfully posted on his blog. It also occurred to me that it was Ben's blog that introduced me to Behind the Headlines in the first place (and it was his blog that introduced me to Sense About Science) and that I've derived an enormous benefit from Ben's social media output (not just 'continuing professional development' on critical appraisal but other fun stuff like Ian Helliwell's podcast series on early analog / electronic music) - so hooray for Ben*.

After a series of refills and beautifully presented canapes Bruce Keogh and Muir Gray spoke about how the service had begun and what it had achieved. There was a little bit of chat about DUETS, set up by Iain Chalmers, which attempts to capture what we know we don't know about the effects of treatments - there are a few in the database relating to diabetes. Gray mentioned his concept of the 'third revolution' of medicine, this time it's knowledge, and the importance of the web in making information accessible (citizens, knowledge, IT and the internet). However trusted sources are crucial and that's really the role that BtH plays - it's aimed at a wide readership and is used by the public too (it has a large hit rate, I forget the exact figure but pretty impressive). Apparently one thing they were looking at in its early days was the feasibility of having something written very soon after a story broke, in that they were thinking that nerds in Australia might write the content, taking advantage of the hemisphere timing difference! - however Bazian cover about two stories every day.

*Incidentally I suppose this post is also a #ff follow Friday for @bengoldacre - although I expect that almost everyone reading this will already be following him. He tweets like Tom Hulce (Wolfie) in Amadeus, but blogs like Mozart ;-)

See also
London Museums of Health & Medicine -
What is Behind the Headlines? (Sir Muir Gray's biography) -

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Jo, very helpful for a newbie science blogger such as myself hoping to get familiar with the 'who's who' and 'what's what' in the world of science communication. Funnily enough, I was not following Ben on Twitter- but I am now! Keep it coming, great stuff.


Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).