…a bit on the history of health care in the United States. The Social Transformation of American Medicine, by Paul Starr, was first published in 1982. The author, a professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton, gives a fascinating, still-relevant account…
ML learned a new word upon reading the newspaper: floccinaucinihilipilificationism. According to the New York Times now, Moynihan prided himself on coining the 32-letter mouthful, by which he meant “the futility of making estimates on the accuracy of public data.”
She’s not exactly sure how the term, said to be the longest non-technical word in the English language, might be used in medical communication, but it seems that it might be relevant to estimating health care costs, and – possibly by extrapolation – to understanding the hidden ambiguousness of inferences drawn from vast amounts of seemingly hard data.
If physicians’ potential profit motives cloud the mammography debate, as the authors contend, that doesn’t mean that mammography is ineffective. Rather it signifies that doctors and scientists should analyze data and make clinical decisions in the absence of financial or other conflicts of interest.