July 07, 2008

PUBLIC HEALTH



For many years, mortality rates in the developed world have dropped while life expectancy has increased. These changes probably have a lot more to do with improvements in public health--things like sanitation, clean water, sewers--than with advances in medicine, as important as the latter have been.

The differences between the public health and medical approach are pretty clear. With the medical model, you treat the person with the disease; with a public health approach, you try to remove conditions that cause the disease to spread. Obviously, we need both, but the promise of the public health is vast.

Aside from these two approaches, there is another one, which is pretty popular these days but totally useless. It's the moralistic approach, which condemns things as bad and tells people not to do them. You can find the moralistic approach across the political spectrum, from the religious right's abstinence only approach to sex education to peace activists who condemn violence and war without making any effort to understand the conditions that contribute to them.

It is El Cabrero's opinion that the public health approach promises the best way to understand and reduce violence, whether at the personal, collective or structural (economic) level.

More on that to come...

SPEAKING OF PUBLIC HEALTH, check out this fascinating NY Times Magazine article on suicide and its prevention.

JOBS DECLINE. Here's economist Dean Baker on the job scene. On the bright side, Congress finally extended unemployment benefits, something some of us have been advocating for months.

CARVED IN STONE. An ancient tablet is sparking debates on Christian origins.

A PESSIMISTIC MOOD pervades the country, according to this AP piece.

GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED

1 comment:

Museum Ethics Controversy said...

I would submit that this "ancient tablet" is probably another sensationalist scam, as is clearly suggested by the facts

(1) that no specific information is available on its provenance ("probably found near the Dead Sea" doesn't quite do it for me); and

(2) that no details are provided on carbon dating of the ink or analysis of the stone.

As such, this "news" brings to mind the faked Lost-Tomb-of-Jesus "documentary" designed to financially profit from people's fascination with the "real" Jesus, as well as the larger scandal of the biased and misleading way the Dead Sea scrolls are being presented in museum exhibits around the world, with an antisemitic nuance emerging on a government-run North Carolina museum's website. See, e.g.,

http://spinozaslens.com/libet/articles/dworkin_ethicsofexhibition.htm (article critical of exhibits)

and

http://blog.news-record.com/staff/frontpew/archives/2008/06/dead_sea_scroll.shtml (discussion and further links)