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Locating Change: Science and Technology Controversies

2011 was a year of transition and change. In 2012, science and technology conflicts and controversies become a resource for locating change and what it means for the future.


Adolescence, Bacteria, and Thinking Beyond Risk

David Dobbs has a typically outstanding piece in this month's National Geographic about teenage behavior, arguing, in effect, that what appears to be difficult behavior among teenagers is an adaptation that makes them more capable of learning. It is a great example of an increasingly important theme in health: That we need to move beyond just seeing risks and problems, and instead also look for strengths and assets.

SIGNALS: Fab Futures, Risk, Alt Energy, Packaging, Adaptive Power, Coal, Wind

On Anticipatory Quarantines

A leading researcher at Microsoft last week suggested that computers that have been infected with viruses should be, in effect, quarantined from accessing the Internet to avoid spreading potentially dangerous mischief into the broader network. The researcher suggested that safe computers could be issued a "health certificate," once virus-free, indicating that the computer is free, once again, to roam the world.

Give Me a McStatin with Cheese

In what really is not a joke (though is likely a provocation), a group of British physicians published an article in the American Journal of Cardiology last week arguing that fast food companies should start packaging statins with their burgers and

Can Doing Nothing Feel Empowering?

There's a lot to like about this feature by Christie Aschwanden about the difficulties of communicating information that contradicts our beliefs. Aschwanden does a solid job of summarizing a fairly substantial body of research showing that in everything from health care to politics, we instinctively question information, however solidly researched, when it challenges our current thinking.

Pumping up the Brain: Reflections on the SharpBrains Virtual Summit

On January 18-20, 2010 Alvaro Fernandez and his team at SharpBrains put together a splendid line-up of speakers on a wide range of topics related to emerging brain fitness research, technologies, and markets, and clinical cognitive and mental health issues. IFTF was proud to be a sponsor of this event.

Predicting health in the workplace

At the Institute, we are deliberate about not making predictions. We forecast what the future might look like based on the implications of trends we see emerging today. Perhaps it is this aversion to predicting the future that makes me uncomfortable with Cincinatti-based start-up Allostatix's sales pitch:

The Allostatix Load Test™ measures whole body health and how the body is responding to the accumulation of stress and poor lifestyle habits based on the scientific concept of allostasis (maintaining stability through change) and allostatic load. This breakthrough test predicts health and wellness 3 to 5 years into the future with up to an 85% accuracy by looking at how all of the body systems work together. (emphasis in the original)

Interestingly, I didn't express any discomfort with such a claim back in March, when I wrote about another company that offers to predict one's future health.

So what is really bothering me? I have to admit that my gut reaction to the idea of using allostatic load as an indicator of future health was one of skepticism. What can Allostatix's "unique and proprietary system" of blood work and biometric measurements really reveal? Elevated cortisol levels? What if I am stressed out about having blood drawn?

Predicting your future health

Not sure how new a story this is, but I have only recently come across it.  With the tag line of "Know, Act, Achieve," Entelos' MyDigitalHealth promises to predict what one's health will look like in the future. The company offers to synthesize your health history, current health, and lifestyle to generate a simulation of your future health.  Then you can see how changing your lifestyle today might change that picture over time.  

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