Happy Anniversary to us! Me and The Nag. Actually, one and the same. Three short years ago, I launched this baby sibling to my Heart Sisters blog about women and heart disease – our #1 killer.
My first Nag here back in 2009 was about how to read the extra-fine print of conflict of interest disclosures at the bottom of scientific journal articles to see who’s paying for the positive results being reported in research studies. I’d already built up quite a head of steam over at Heart Sisters about what’s known as marketing-based medicine. I was on a roll, except the roll had almost nothing to do with my important focus of women and heart disease – our #1 killer.
As a heart attack survivor who now takes a fistful of cardiac meds every day, I realized one day that I had no clue which of these drugs were being prescribed for me based on flawed clinical research or industry-tainted medical journal articles.
And worse – neither did my doctors.
Best to separate the sibs, I decided, so I could easily divide the emerging cardiology updates there and the marketing rants over here. Here’s more about those early days.
Besides Big Pharma marketing (still an endlessly fascinating subject to me), I expanded my original focus to include public relations for the ethically challenged, whistleblowing as a poor career choice, the tricks used by savvy marketers to get us to buy what they want to sell, and even vaguely philosophical observations on what I like to call our wry society.
As a PR veteran of three decades spent working in corporate, government and non-profit public relations, I can smell a spin a mile away. And to borrow a classic phrase from Bob Garfield over at Advertising Age:
“Which is to say – I know my stupid!”
I’ve also had the odd occasion here to produce purely therapeutic rants, ranging from the catholic church‘s systemic cover-up of their sexual abuse scandals (from the perspective of a recovering catholic myself) to the puzzling anti-social rudeness inherent in social media.
Of course, as all writers know, you can churn out the most beautifully deathless prose, but if nobody wants to stop and read it, you’re basically just writing a diary.
So I want to say “thank you” to you, my dear readers, and especially to my gorgeous and loyal email subscribers and Twitter followers who have travelled this road with me for three years. (If you haven’t signed up yet – what’s keeping you?! Just click on the right sidebar of my homepage!)
I humbly appreciate knowing you’re there with me on the other end of this computer screen every four days when a new Nag appears, and I especially appreciate the time you’ve taken to add your thoughtful comments here. (Well, except maybe for my first-ever threatening letter that was FedExed from the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom of Boston two years ago. But that’s another story . . .)
So here are some Nags to celebrate as we clink our glasses of chocolate almond milk together this month:
◊ Top-read post ever here: NEJM editor: “No Longer Possible to Believe Much of Clinical Research Published (This November 2009 post about former New England Journal of Medicine editor Dr. Marcia Angell was a sleeper – until the Arabic news agency Aljazeera English service published a link to it. This post still attracts well over twice as many readers every day as the second place perennial favourite, Microwave Popcorn: (Still) Bad for You. That one’s popularity was also a surprise to me: who knew microwave popcorn was this interesting?)
◊ Next most-read Nags so far (in order of popularity):
- Dannon Slammed with $35 Million False Advertising Settlement Over Activia Probiotic Yogurt – (or, why you shouldn’t believe stupid belly-dancing TV advertising)
- Why the Olympics are Bad Business – (written in February 2010, the month our province hosted the Vancouver/Whistler Winter Games here, this article discovered renewed interest this past year leading up to the London 2012 Games)
- Why You Should Not Buy Girl Guide Cookies This Year – (I almost lost my Mother Of The Year award after writing this one!)
- What We Can Learn About Medicine from Watching Grey’s Anatomy – (the fascinating story of how a famous non-profit foundation teamed up with TV producers to create a truly educational episode on this popular series)
- Four marketing tricks that IKEA uses to seduce us – (here I found out more about why I love shopping at IKEA so much!)
- Why doctors get sued – (in which I learned that despite popular opinion, malpractice lawsuits are not born of greedy patients and their even greedier lawyers)
- “Pay for Delay”- How Off-Patent Brand Name Drugs Fight Off Generics – (the surprising reason you’re paying too much for your prescription drugs)
◊ The post I most enjoyed writing: I have to say it again, I absolutely loved putting together New ‘Desire Drug’ Claims That Sex Really IS All in Her Head – which was not only about the serious (and clearly unethical) subject of Big Pharma disease-mongering, but tons o’ fun to write.
And throughout all our anniversary celebrations, and as I look forward to the year ahead in Nag Land, I recall for you this masthead motto I love:
“Doing things right is not the same as doing the right thing.”
Warmest regards and many thanks to you all,
© 2012 Carolyn Thomas The Ethical Nag www.ethicalnag.org