Diagnosing the New Medpedia

Yesterday, web entrepreneur James Currier, the founder of Ooga Labs, launched an open-source encyclopedia for medical information — sort of. 

Currier's site, Medpedia, plans to avoid the inaccuracy pitfalls of user-generated content by screening the users for trained professionals only.


The site will feature author pages detailing their credentials including their educational background and certifications. The New York Times Bits blog wrote that, "Mr. Currier is aiming to build the most complete database of information from medical professionals." 

While ambitious, Wikidoc already claims this throne as the self-reported "world's largest medical textbook/encyclopedia" with over 75,000 chapters of content contributed by over 900 registered users.  Rather than screening users, Wikidoc allows completely democratic edits, however, each topic is overseen by an accredited editor-in-chief.

While Currier looks to expertise to solve the Wiki problem, Thomas Goetz, deputy editor of Wired magazine, argues that expertise is in fact the problem with scientific writing on Wikipedia. In his blog entry, "Why Does Wikipedia Suck on Science?" Goetz writes, "On Wikipedia, contributors are expected to contribute their knowledge. But on science, there's a oneupmanship going on, and a topic will be honed to an ever-greater level of expertise. That's great for precision and depth, but horrible for the general user, who is often brought to Wikipedia through a top hit on Google."

Currier is also cited for calling on patients to take a more active role in their health and to follow procedural guidelines for surgeries and treatments that will be posted on Medpedia. The problem is that some methods encouraging patient literacy, such as direct-to-consumer advertising by pharmaceutical companies, are blamed by the medical community for problems such as the overuse of prescription drugs.  Doctors also often use varied procedure prep guidelines that might contradict those online and lead to confusion.

The site seems to offer promise in the listing of specialists by geographical area to provide for a physician referral system. However, zocdoc.com is reportedly expanding outside New York. If they do it fast enough, Medpedia may be rendered redundant at best, but most likely a nice try.

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Meet the Bajau sea nomads — they can reportedly hold their breath for 13 minutes

The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

Wikimedia Commons
Culture & Religion
  • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
  • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
Keep reading Show less

Golden blood: The rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
  • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less