It’s a funny old world where it takes Wired Magazine to show the medical fraternity how truly unintelligible (but life-critical) gibberish can be transformed in ways that allow us to take control of our own well being

This talk by Thomas Goetz is all about new attitudes to behaviour change and how, instead of intimidating patients and trying to bully them into changing lifestyle behaviour by using traumatising graphic descriptions and imagery of the disastrous consequences of poor choices, information is offered in ways which empower and engage the interest of the patient

The talk in the video above was given at TEDMED on the 27th of October 2010

This next Thomas Goetz Video was from a Google Talk covering material in his book The Decision Tree

In the talk he quotes an extraordinary research statistic from Ralph Kinney, Research Professor at the The Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, in a paper entitled Personal Decisions Are the Leading Cause of Death, published in the Operations Research journal INFORMS:

Research shows that your life will probably be cut short as a result of your very own health decisions

Analysis indicates that over one million of the 2.4 million deaths in 2000 can be attributed to personal decisions and could have been avoided if readily available alternative choices were made.

Separate analyses indicate 46% of deaths due to heart disease and 66% of cancer deaths are attributable to personal decisions, about 55% of all deaths for ages 15–64 are attributable to personal decisions, and over 94% of the deaths attributable to personal decisions result in the death of the individual making the decisions.

Relative to the current 45%, retrospective appraisal suggests that roughly 5% of deaths in 1900 and 20%–25% of deaths in 1950 could be attributed to personal decisions.

These results suggest that more effort directed toward improving personal choices regarding life risks may be an effective and economical way to save lives.

Here’s Thomas Goetz’s biography, from Wired:

As Executive Editor, Thomas Goetz oversees all aspects of Wired Magazine, from story conception to cover packages.

In addition to guiding editorial content, Goetz writes frequently for the magazine on health and technology.

Recent cover stories include: “Your DNA, Decoded,” about the nascent personal genomics industry, “The Truth About Cancer,” about the riddles of early detection, and “The Thin Pill,” about the pharmaceutical industry’s evangelism of metabolic syndrome.

His writing has been selected for The Best American Science Writing and The Best Technology Writing anthologies.

Since Goetz joined Wired in 2001, the magazine has been nominated for 12 National Magazine Awards, and has won six, including three for General Excellence.

Before joining Wired, Goetz was an executive editor at the Industry Standard, the late but lauded news magazine of the Internet economy.

He has been a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal and The Village Voice, and has written for The New York Times Magazine, Details, Rolling Stone and other publications.

He holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a master’s degree in American literature from the University of Virginia. He graduated from Bates College.