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The War on LGBTQ+ Kids Is Getting Out of Hand

Two men stand in front of a crowd, looking at the camera. One of them holds a large picture with a caption that reads "Maryland's First Married Couple. Together 37 years."

I don’t remember exactly when I learned that there are people who are sexually attracted to the same sex. Growing up in machismo-rich northern Mexico, I was taught that people (most often men) who were gay were not to be trusted. They were to be shunned, laughed at, and excluded in every way possible. Even […]

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Another Circle Is Now Complete

A plague reads "College of Physicians of Philadelphia 19 South 22nd Street Founded 1787 Medical Library Mütter Museum FC Wood Institute"

The first week I started working at the Maryland Department of Health in 2007, we faced an interesting situation when a person who worked at a government office building came down with legionellosis. Legionellosis is a pulmonary disease caused by the Legionella species of bacteria. It is usually associated with exposures to fine water mists, […]

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We Have to Explain Risk to People as if They Were Five Years Old

Image of a man on a tightrope walking across a chasm

People who are afraid of flying have an irrational fear of it, so it is difficult to try and rationalize things to fight that irrational fear. Teenagers with raging hormones hand over control of their actions to the more “autonomic” part of their brains. And people for whom life hurts will seek a way to ease that pain. What we do to respond to those fears, those urges, and that pain — and how we do it — will determine the level of harm we cause ourselves and each other. Without understanding the risks of the actions we take to do harm — and especially to reduce it — we will continue to make the same mistakes that end up hurting us.

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Quarantine Shmarantine! Pandemic Edition

Six years ago, I told you all about how quarantines don’t really work in practice. They work in theory just fine, but human nature in all of us make us violate quarantine almost inevitably. We just don’t like being told what to do as a society. We also get scared of contagion if we are […]

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The Things You Need to Think About Before You Reopen Schools

I’d like to start off this blog post by telling you that I am in no way advocating for or against reopening schools. This is currently a hot-button issue, and many policymakers are scratching their heads on how to do school reopening correctly. I am also not telling any one person or group how schools […]

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They’re Laughing at US

It has almost been 20 years since the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania of September 11, 2001. Since then, numerous conspiracy theories have been floated in an attempt to explain the unimaginable tragedy that that day was for the families of the victims. These theories range from the insane to […]

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The Abuse You’re Going to Have to Take

angry-phone-call

It’s been a weird pandemic. From day one of the response, I was asked to manage several very young and very bright public health workers for several jobs. Later on, I was promoted to managing other public health workers. Through it all, I’ve tried to follow one rule: Always be on the side of my […]

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Your Obsession with Data

People are hungry for more and more data about the pandemic. It’s not that they are trained on how to use it. It’s just that they want to have some sort of control over the situation. They need just a little more faith in the professionals.

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The Pandemics You Can Try to Stop

So we didn’t stop the pandemic this time. Can we stop it next time? Can we stop an epidemic of anything anymore? What about the non-communicable diseases? How about stopping those epidemics of obesity or opioid overdose? Can politics ever stop getting in the way? Am I asking too many questions?

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The Hijacking of Fluorine 18.998, Part Three

In the last two blog posts (here and here), I told you about the history of fluoridation of water in the United States and other parts of the world. I told you how a dentist traveled out west to Colorado and, through observation and laboratory study, helped determine that adding fluoride to drinking water prevented […]

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