Yesterday marked a significant step in my shift away from tit-for-tat ideology-based political fare. I deleted my beloved Slate Political Gabfest from my iTunes directory. I’ve been listening to the Gabfest trio – John Dickerson, Emily Bazelon, and David Plotz – since their very first shows, I’m guessing nearly three years ago. The Gabfest was created by the peerless Andy Bowers, formerly of NPR, who has extended the Slate podcasting kingdom to the more recent Culture Gabfest and to Slate V, which for my mind offers some of the most forward-looking and compelling video on the Internet.
Fridays have always been Political Gabfest days for me, but yesterday on the cross trainer there was no new show, because I had deleted the feed to my iTunes directory. So I spun the list of podcasts remaining on my iPhone and came up with UChannel, also known as the Univerity Channel, a project of Princeton University. It’s a series of full-length university lectures from around the world on a wide range of topics. The audio quality is good, and the topics are serious.
So I listened to a May 25, 2009 lecture at Cornell by David Healy, a psychiatrist and Cardiff University professor, who rattled what I think I know about the world with his passionate critique of the pharmaceutical industry’s influence on the practice of medicine. He argued that Prozac and similar drugs can lead to suicide, and he called attention to the amount of ghost writing in prestigious publications such as The New England Journal of Medicine. Click here for audio of the lecture.
The talk lasted more than an hour, so I finished it up in the car later yesterday morning, driving to a far-away optional errand just so I’d be able to keep listening. Professor Healy has the intensity of a fringe reformer, but if even half of his thesis is valid it indicates the daunting scale of any effort to truly reform the U.S. health care system.
This provocative podcast, unlike the Political Gabfest, left me with the feeling that I had learned something new. I’m not sure how long I’ll maintain my political abstinence, but so far I enjoy the doors it’s opening up in my mind each day.