Vol. 8 No. 5
April/May 2006

Return to Contents

Just Add Water
An interdisciplinary experiment

Reading and Resources

"Why do Atlantans not know that there are massive river
systems throughout the state, that a major river runs through the city, that the city dumps all these effluents into it?"

"When the impervious [surface] area rises to 30 percent,
the stream habitat becomes completely degraded. On campus,
we have greater than 50 percent impervious area."

Safe Access
A social watershed

Water as Sacred
Jewish and Christian traditions

The Rarest Element
Despite centuries of research, mysteries of water remain



The Politics of Medical Publications
I thought when I took on the [editorship of] the Journal of Vascular Surgery that authors wrote papers then submitted them to the journal, where reviewers gave their best advice to editors. Then it went back to authors in order to improve their papers, then editors made decisions. Well, that is true, but there’s another major component that I knew nothing about when I started. There’s a large money flow, and this is where we start getting into problems with industry. The money comes from advertisers, subscribers, libraries. Where does it go? Clearly it goes to publishers, Elsevier [the medical publisher] is not a poor company. And in the case of the Society for Vascular Surgery, that’s $14.8 million that goes to them over a five-year period. This is major business. . . .

What’s interesting to me about the 2000 and 2001 studies [of Vioxx and Celebrex] is, Why was the cardiac mortality overlooked? They were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, they were clearly peer reviewed, but the cardiac mortality was published there and it was overlooked. Why? I would like to think the focus at that time was developing a drug that had fewer GI side effects for people with rheumatism, arthritis, and so on. But of course you could perhaps think of other explanations. Over those subsequent five years, $100 million was spent per year by each company on direct advertising to patients. My question is, When the increased risk of cardiac problems was demonstrated, why was an appropriate clinical study not funded by the companies, instead of funding a study to find an additional market? I can’t come up with an answer to that question that is polite.

—K. Wayne Johnston, Professor of Surgery and Biomedical Engineering, R. Fraser Elliott Chair in Vascular Surgery, University of Toronto, Canada, from his talk, “Does Industry Influence the Publication of Clinical Results?” February 2, 2006

Cartoonists: Our New Gods?
I asked a cartoonist who lives in Iran, How do you draw cartoons about the Shi’ites? Because it is forbidden in Tehran to draw them in cartoons. But if [a cartoonist] has a criticism of the Shi’ites that they want to draw and they draw the image as the Taliban, that’s okay. So when the people in Tehran see a cartoon of the Taliban, they know it’s about the Shi’ites. A cartoonist can draw a door, but if the door is shut, we have an opportunity to make a hole in the wall to get through, because we are like a God in a way. We can fit anything we want to inside a cartoon.

—Jean Plantu, editorial cartoonist for the French newspaper Le Monde and other publications, speaking at Emory on January 31, 2006