What would Carl Sagan do?
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I’ve been on an absurdly overdue holiday (understatement), so I’ve fallen behind on the blog/newsletter (and basically everything else there is to fall behind on). To get the ball rolling again, here’s a quick item, published while waiting for a float plane to take me home, some new art for PainScience.com:
“What would Carl Sagan do?” is the modern skeptic’s riff on “What would Jesus do?” Clear critical thinking is a complex skill that can never be fully learned, only endlessly practiced & refined. Sagan was an inspiring modern master of it.
I whipped this image up a little while ago to use in a handful places around the site. It’s a public domain photo of Carl from NASA with the background stripped out, the contrast boosted, then posterized and colourized with a PainSci blue. This is a style I plan to make wider use of, and so I’ve been experimenting with it.
The importance of Sagan-esque critical thinking in healthcare
Healthcare requires as much mental rigour as we can muster — especially for patients with unexplained chronic pain and illness. Consider the perilous situation with Long Covid:
Many of the country’s top medical centers have set up multidisciplinary clinics to see long-haul patients, but advocates say there aren’t nearly enough to handle the millions of Americans expected to be dealing with lingering issues from covid-19 in coming years, leaving most of them struggling to navigate a maze of doctors and diagnoses on their own.
How qualified are those millions of patients to “navigate a maze of doctors and diagnoses on their own”? The answer is probably depressing.
I have written a lot over the years about how to think about health and healthcare. For example, here’s one that covers one of Sagan’s most important lessons, the “extraordinary claim”: What’s a “Claim” in Health Care? And another, an obscure article I have hardly ever promoted: How to Simplify Chronic Pain Puzzles.