Did you know that today we receive 5 times as much information as we did in 1986? This amount is the equivalent of 174 newspapers of data a day. It’s not surprising that many of us feel as though we have information overload, especially when some of what we read and hear is false.
Combating the glut of misleading information out there on the web can be a challenge. If you find yourself becoming stressed and disturbed by the rise in scientific inaccuracies you encounter, the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) 2019 John P. McGovern and Walter C. Alvarez Award winners may offer some relief.
AMWA presents these awards annually to leaders who have made preeminent contributions to the field of medical communication. We are honored this year to recognize distinguished physicians and authors Paul A. Offit, MD and Daniel J. Siegel, MD. Dr. Offit and Dr. Siegel will be giving keynote addresses at the 2019 AMWA Medical Writing & Communication Conference in San Diego, CA, in November 2019.
McGovern Award Recipient Paul A. Offit, MD
A pediatrician and virologist, Dr. Offit serves as the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He also is the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology and a Professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Offit is at the forefront of the current debate surrounding the safety of vaccines and, as an author of 8 medical narratives, he advocates for the clear communication of science at a time when science is under siege. In his latest book, Bad Advice: Or Why Celebrities, Politicians, and Activists Aren’t Your Best Source of Health Information (Columbia University Press, June 2018), he offers practical tips on how we can battle scientific misinformation.
You might be familiar with Dr. Offit from the Netflix series, A User’s Guide to Cheating Death. He is heavily featured in Season 2, Episode 2.
AMWA supports evidence- and science-based medicine and the use of objectivity and diligent research in pursuit of accurate and unbiased reporting. As a medical communicator I’m shocked at the increasing amount of bad information I read and hear, and I’m disturbed by the pseudoscience and conspiracy theories being promoted by so-called experts. And I’m not alone. Dr. Offit has made it a mission to fight back. As he writes in Bad Advice, scientists (and I’ll add scientific communicators) must “become an army of science advocates out to educate the country. Because science is losing its rightful status as a source of truth, now is the time.”
Join me on Thursday, November 7, 2019, when Dr. Offit will receive his award and deliver his presentation. I’m eager to learn more about how to separate good science from bad and hear his thoughts about what we can do to ensure that we don’t fail in our quests to communicate science clearly and understandably. I don’t want to become part of the misinformation problem; do you?
Alvarez Award Recipient Daniel J. Siegel, MD
Dr. Dan Siegel is a clinical professor of psychiatry in the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine. He is also the founder and co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. AMWA is recognizing him for his latest book, Awake: The Science and Practice of Presence, in which he describes the scientific basis for meditative practices and guides readers through practical meditation exercises designed to bring focus and calm into their daily lives.
A leader in the emerging field of interpersonal neurobiology, Dr. Siegel aims to bring more kindness, compassion, and resilience into our world. He advocates a process of mindful awareness, what he describes as “mindsight,” which harnesses basic biologic processes to promote mental, physical, and relational health.
In the face of information overload, the focus and calm gained through mindfulness can be antidotes to the stress we feel. According to Dr. Siegel, when we focus our attention we increase neural firing, which, in turn, enables neural connections to grow. He theorizes that we can reprogram our brains to reduce stress.
Dr. Siegel will receive his award and deliver his presentation on Friday, November 8, 2019. Join him as he describes positive changes we can make to reduce stress and how we can embrace a higher emotional and social intelligence in our work and personal lives.
Cynthia L. Kryder, a freelance medical communicator, is the 2018-2019 President of AMWA. She also serves as a Social Media Section Editor of the AMWA Journal.
Join us in San Diego for the 2019 Medical Writing & Communication Conference! Visit amwaconference.org to learn more.