Cyberchondria Article

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planningguy

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For those of you who take The Times (in paper of electronic format) there is a really fascinating article on "cyberchondria." It can be found here (you may need to register freely with the Times):

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/25/technology/internet/25symptoms.html?th&emc=th

Basically Microsoft conducted a research study that involved looking at using search engines to research medical maladies. Microsoft concluded, as we already know, that search engines tend to point people to the "worst case scenario" for their symptoms. Microsoft has dubbed this web-based self diagnostic process as "cyberchondria."

For those of you who don't want to read The Times, Microsofts abstract can be found here, with a link to the full page article:

http://research.microsoft.com/research/pubs/view.aspx?type=Technical Report&id=1595

Food for thought for those of us without a diagnosed.

Robert
 

rose

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Very interesting Robert! and it does seem to go hand in hand with the question I asked in my thread Re: first symptoms?

Its almost like some would rather take the worst case scenario offered by the internet over what medical research, qualified medicine practitioners, or those with practical knowledge of a condition give for advise. :)
 

BethU

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If I understand how Google works, it seems to me that this "worst case scenario" will keep snowballing. The more hits on "ALS" when people Google "twitches," the higher in the ranking ALS gets, so I'm sure that by now, the top ten responses to a search for twitches are those related to ALS.

It's just human nature that if you have a minor twitch or cramp and you Google it and get hit with "YOU WILL DIE PARALYZED IN 24 MONTHS FROM TWITCHES," you're not going to go deeply into the search results looking for a more nuanced answer.

What we need is a website like, "Twitches R Us" with your good information, Rose, which would pop up first on Google.
 

rose

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Beth, LOL 8)

Robert, I actually just copied and pasted some of the NYTimes article onto my OT thread about about Google over on the general discussion forum.
 
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olly

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after i first got my diagnosed and not sure what it all meant with regards to my symptoms (yes ignorance is bliss) i went on some web sites.
one is a well known symptom checker site.
i put in all my main symptoms and it kept coming up as als being a likely cause.
i tried a few different combination of symptoms,still said als.
now i do have mnd but if i am honest deep down i feel it is pls not als despite some slight lmn involvement due to my very slow progression.
my point is,some may do the same and come up with als or other things and panic.
i tried it to see if it came up with anything else which once it did come up with a long worded deficency illness .
these sites are no good even though they say you should not take the results as being a diagnosed but seek medical advice.
 

Al

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One good thing about Google is that they usually have our forum near the top for getting good information rather than some of the misinformation out there.

AL.
 

rose

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Al....

I agree. This forum is wonderful, and safe, and you do a fantastic job of keeping the scams and misinformation off of here.

Yesterday, just for kicks, I tried Googling something like "is it possible to live without a functioning Vagus nerve" (seeing as mine is certainly disrupting the quality of my life!)

So, some hits came up for electronic stimulation, but the most amazing one, was a site that informed me that my immune system was controlled by the Vagus nerve, and through relaxation, ancient practices and meditation, I could learn to "activate" it by creating a positive brain state, And the vagus nerve, in turn, would activate my stem cells to regenerate and renew my tissues and organs, modulate my nervous system and even control my gene function. This site happened to have my choice of CD or audio tape for purchase......

I'm not knocking meditation, or having a positive attitude, as I do believe mind set and attitude is my most powerful weapon right now, but, according to the way this site read, if I'm unable to "activate" this nerve ~ and it is anything but a live wire right now ~ I'm pretty much SOL.

Anyway, I digress, thank you for being our watchdog! 8)
 

Zaphoon

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I wonder - if you are afraid you have cyberchondria does that make you a cyberchondriac?

Just asking...

Z
 

planningguy

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I am glad I found this forum, and have been able to receive such practical answers and support while I work through my health issues. Thank you for making it such a safe, and helpful place.

BethU - in addition to traditional methods (automated crawlers and lists of keywords) Google uses an algorithm reffered to as Page Rank. Although the exact nature of the algorithm is a corporate secret basically it looks for the following:

1. The frequency and location of keywords within the Web page.
2. How long the Web page has existed.
3. The number of other Web pages that link to the page.

You are right in that sites or forums dealing with ALS tend to be the ones that pop up quickly (probably mainly because "twitch" has somehow become an ALS key word), but as Al mentions it brings up this site pretty quickly too which is some comfort.

Zaphoon - Yes, and it probably brings new meaning to cyber attacks too :)

Take care all,

Robert
 
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