Today the NY Times printed a piece pokes fun at, and highlights the dangers of, the new habit of texting-while-walking:
This summer, the American College of Emergency Room Physicians released a statement expressing concern about the issue, citing a Chicago doctor who was seeing a lot of face, chin, eye and mouth injuries among young people who reported texting and tumbling.
Hmm... I'm a member of ACEP, but I've never heard of ACERP. Is it some rival organization of emergency physicians whose practice is confined to four walls? Or, in its rush to condemn new technologies that enable communication on-the-go, has the New York Times abandoned the traditional practices of editing and fact-checking? 

More play time than money

Much has been written about health care reform, but there's something that's gone unremarked upon, as far as I know:

I don't think I've ever seen this much attention to legislative procedure.

And it's kind of remarkable, really -- just look at some of these mainstream news stories from Slate or the New York Times. And it's been like this for months now.

I remember briefly some discussion of the constitutionality of filibustering in relation to Bush judicial nominees a few years back -- the trivia around the nuclear option and all. But in all the big legislative debates I can recall, from the Brady Bill to NAFTA, DMCA, McCain-Feingold, the PATRIOT Act, Medicare part D and TARP, I don't think there's been such coverage of rival committees, proposed amendments and procedural maneuvers. I can't recall a time when so many different senators and representatives were regularly featured in the news.

There's probably some way to measure this -- counting mentions of the term "cloture" in the news over the years, perhaps, or determining the frequency of senators' names appearing in print.

Who knows? Maybe I'm just paying more attention this time around. But I'd bet the proliferation of punditry, speculative markets and blogs has spawned more detailed reporting.

It's not at all clear whether this increased reporting on legislative procedure translates to a populace more informed on policy options, although I'd wager that's the case. And while I'm sure there are still plenty of back-room deals and shady lobbyist rewrites, this increased public engagement and scrutiny of the legislative process has got to be a good thing, overall.

What I'm wondering is: What would have happened to all the vitriol over healthcare reform, if we didn't have all these frequent, detailed updates? Would we have seen less heated rhetoric, or could more have been possible?

Protect your language

The Efficient MD's eyes are opened by the nasty thoughts Google Suggest offers up when someone starts typing "Doctors are..." Since Google Suggest lists only common results with which to complete your queries, it seems that the most common thing people think about doctors online is that we're "overpaid" or "jerks" or "dangerous" or, most commonly, "sadists who like to play god."

Surveys show people consider doctors to be among the most respected professions. So what gives?
Well, I've been paying attention to what Google can tell us about ourselves (the first Google Talk was a lot less useful, but arguably more interesting) for some time. But even before I knew Google Suggest was a weird and limited tool, I knew this:
Declarative sentences are the only kind of sentence that can be proven or disproven. Yet the people who use them most -- and favor the short, simple variety of declarations --are often those least interested in arriving at truth.
That's my guess why those "Doctors are..." statements seem so unfriendly to doctors.

You can find more head-scratching or downright funny Google Suggest screenshots here... It seems that questions from school assignments often find their way into Google Suggest. Finally, here's an analysis suggesting the way the start of a question is phrased implies a certain sophistication of query.