Wednesday, March 24, 2010


This post is about Too Much Information.  And no, I'm not about to reveal something icky or uncomfortably personal.

Since my diagnosis with Type 2 Diabetes, I've subscribed to a number of news feeds dealing with diabetes, obesity, nutrition, and general health issues.  And it's Too Much Information.

I'm not referring to information overload, although that's certainly an issue.  While there's no way I can absorb everything that comes out of the fire hose I've hooked myself up to, but that's a familiar problem and doesn't especially bother me.  I'm referring to how much of the information I get lacks enough context to be meaningful.

Take this article from a website called "Diabetes Health", to whose RSS feed I subscribe.  "Calcium May Help You Live Longer" describes a ten-year study done with 23,000 Swedish men.  The article seems to do a nice job of describing the study and what it found.   But what it DOESN"T address is what, if anything, I ought to do about it.  The sensible answer in this case would appear to be "nothing, we don't know enough yet".  But if that's the case, why did I read it?  It's a good article, and I have no problem with it.  I just wonder if that's a good information source for me.

There's sort of a spectrum here.  At one end, you've got a preliminary study done on a small number of a specific population that can't wisely be elaborated to the general population.  At the other end is the recommendations of medical associations and government agencies, which have been studied, debated, examined from eighteen directions, and maybe politicized.  The process that produces these recommendations seems ponderous and very slow to respond to new information.  (This is probably largely as it should be.)

What I'd really like is something in the middle, an article that reports on conclusions that have reached some degree of consensus in the medical community.  Down the road, for example, there might be an article that says that a number of studies seems to indicate that kicking up the calcium intake might be a good idea, it doesn't seem to be harmful, and you should ask your doctor if this might be appropriate for you. 

Maybe I just need to unsubscribe from some feeds and newsletters.


  1. Bob,

    That is a great point, I'm something of an information/news junkie... I am blessed (not sure if it really a blessing) to be able to remember things that I see/read if am interested in it. What happens for me is that things just kinda "simmer" in my head for a while. Then I will read something else and as it bubbles around the back of my mind, it will "hook up" with the first tidbit and then they will make a lot more sense. It works for me.

    Just read what catches your eye, none of us can keep up with it all, esp since we aren't paid to do that... if you're not sure, read the first and last paragraphs and ignore the rest

  2. Scott, that's the sane way to do it, and I can pull it off sometimes. :)

  3. Sane way? that may be the first time anyone accused me of that...

  4. You know, I think this is exactly why patient blogs are so popular and helpful. They are all about real people living real lives, treating real diabetes (and other stuff).


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T Minus Two by Bob Pedersen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.