In their article “The Depiction of Illness and Related Matters in Two Top-Ranked Primetime Network Medical Drama in the United States”, Ye and Ward (2010) were interested in investigating the diseases, injuries and patient demographics portrayed in Grey’s Anatomy and ER. The authors were very descriptive in their sample selection starting with how and why the programs chosen were selected. Using the recently available DVD seasons for each show was a novel way to investigate the content. However, as a result of this self-imposed sample limitation to only DVDs which are available, one study limitation that the authors mention is the asynchronous nature of the shows studied. That is, the researchers did not study the shows during the initial air dates. The characters, content and plot line of the show do not change because you watch it on DVD and are not (to my knowledge) affected by the asynchronous or synchronous nature of the viewing so why mention it? Perhaps I am thinking about it with 2012 eyes and with knowledge that time shifting is on the rise. Would using Hulu (with a one day turnaround from air date) make any difference in this disclosure?

Ye and Ward provide great detail to the operational definitions of their variables. The categorization of the type of illnesses to be coded is not only helpful in replicating the study but is also helpful in establishing a general categorization of these illnesses for future research.

In the results section, Ye and Ward state that “461 injuries, illnesses and diseases were identified” (P. 562) but it is not known whether this number represents 461 unique illnesses or a running tabulation of all illnesses (where duplication can occur). If it is the former then that is a ton of illnesses but if it is the latter then that could mislead one to think that a ton of illnesses are represented in these educational entertainment shows.

In the discussion section, Ye and Ward suggest that “more attention to chronic diseases is needed” and support this claim by providing evidence from their current research indicating that “fewer than 10 diabetes cases were identified.” (P. 565)  Ye and Ward then go on to suggest ideas for further research to examine other medical shows such as House, Scrubs and Nip/Tuck. This brings up an interesting point. House frequently uses Multiple Sclerosis and/or Lupus as a first diagnosis but it never ends up “sticking” and the patient always comes out with something else in the end. Putting these two ideas together, it would be interesting to see what chronic diseases are frequently found in entertainment education media and specifically what context they are used (diagnosis vs. misdiagnosis). It is such a pervasive parody on House that there is even a (unofficial) T-shirt about it…

Here is a link to two (of many) lamentations regarding the way House treats MS and chronic diseases in general  – &

The House MD social game also pokes fun at the misdiagnosis of Lupis.

What does Multiple Sclerosis look like in the media? 

Who constantly misdiagnoses MS (& Lupus and other autoimmune diseases):

  • Season 1, Episode 2 (Paternity) – Sexual abuse is the first misdiagnosis then the team decides it is Multiple Sclerosis. It turns out to be measles.
  • Season 4, Episode 6 (Whatever It Takes) – Heat stroke is the first misdiagnosis then Miller Fisher Inflammation and finally MS or Lupus. In the end the patient is sick from eating too many Brazil nuts.
  • Season 4, Episode 10 (It’s a Wonderful Lie) – Breast cancer is the first diagnosis but the MRI of the chest comes up negative. House then orders an MRI for MS. It turns out to be Breast Cancer in the patient’s leg.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

  • Season 11, Episode 17 (Disabled) – Black female victim has multiple sclerosis and is quadriplegic. Disturbing scenes of caretaker violence against the woman by her caretaker sister.
  • Season 3, Episode 8 (Inheritance) – Benson and Stabler visit a person of interest with primary progressive MS. He is an older black male shown in a wheelchair and ostensibly housed in a group home.
  • Season 4, Episode 9 (Juvenile) – Benson and Stabler visit a person of interest who is a part of a medicinal marijuana club/co-op in the city. She is a young, professional white woman who states that “The only thing that controls my tremors from MS is smoking once in a while.”
  • Season 13, Episode 17 (Justice Denied) – Benson finds out that the officer who logged a scarf into evidence was color blind due to early onset Multiple Sclerosis. A false conviction of a serial rapist occurred due to the officer’s claim that the scarf was green (instead of red).


  • The Talk  (18 June 2012) announced Jack Osbourne’s recent multiple sclerosis diagnosis. Sharon Osbourne was visually upset through the announcement and was hesitant to speak.
  • Accused (6 December 2010); Season 1, Episode 4 (Liam’s Story) – The accused Taxi driver’s (Liam’s) wife suffers from “progressive” multiple sclerosis. Liam mentions this to the woman whom he is stalking and from whom he has burgled. The wife is shown in a wheelchair and in a consistently depressed state.
  • West Wing – The president has multiple sclerosis but does everything he can to hide it.
  • Cold Case (2006); Season 3, Episode 16 (One Night) – Terrible misrepresentation of MS including mention of it as a “terminal” illness. Most individuals with MS live regular life spans…just stuck inside a body that does not want to cooperate. In this episode, the serial killer has MS but this is not disclosed until the police visit his wife. His (estranged) wife tells the police that the husband called recently to tell her that the tremors came back. This, to the husband now serial killer, indicates that he is “dying.” In other words, a relapse triggers the man to kill young boys because “they don’t realize what life is worth” at that age.
  • Annette Funicello – Actress (Mickey Mouse Club) and singer
  • Richard Pryor – Actor (See No Evil, Hear No Evil), comedian and writer
  • Montel Williams – Talk show host and MS champion
  • David “Squiggy” Lander – Actor (Laverne and Shirley), comedian and musician
  • Jack Osbourne – Actor (The Osbournes) and media personality
  • Jonathan Katz – Writer (Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist), comedian, actor
  • Alan Osmond – Singer (Osmond Brothers)
  • Teri Garr – Actress (Young Frankenstein)
  • Betty Cuthbert – Athlete (Australia)
  • Lena Horne – Singer (Stormy Weather and other Jazz favorites) and actress
  • Clive Burr – Musician (Iron Maiden)
  • William Hartnell – Actor (Doctor Who)

Ye, Y. and Ward, K.E. (2010). The Depiction of Illness and Related Matters in Two Top-Ranked Primetime Network Medical Drama in the United States. A Content Analysis, Journal of Health Communication, 15(1): 555-570.

Content Analysis computer programs still have a ways to go…

Although our computer coding skills are progressing in leaps and bounds, these content analysis computer programs are still not suited to interpret content. Interpreting (connotative) content is subjective and requires the bias mind of a human who uses their experience (and sometimes “gut” feelings) to come to conclusions. Computers on the other hand are programmed to do x when y. These are literal black and white commands boiled down to core 1s and 0s. And this coding relies on logic. Designing a computer program which deciphers language (video, photo and sound are even more difficult) becomes infinitely more complicated when the language is illogical or, at the very least, muddled. The current programs are good at accounting for instances of keywords and semantic composition because these can be easily coded (i.e. because they are logical). Even if a codebook is developed and followed to the letter there are still judgement calls which a human makes on the fly – this spontaneous thinking process cannot be replicated by a computer (yet – see Alan Turing and his famous test and claim of an impending “singularity”).

I have issue with the assumption that one can compare a modern computer program with a human in the first place (even if the computer-assisted team had the luxury of seeing the other answers first). The investigation should not be between the human and the machine but within the machine itself. What is the validity of the code and/or algorithm within this context? Have you branched the logic to account for all possible scenarios? Was the program coded for that type of content analysis?  For example, if I were to claim that MS Word is terrible because it does not do sophisticated mathematical operations I would be perfectly correct. However, mathematical operations are not the purpose of Word like they are in Excel. My conclusion is correct but my expectation was a fallacy from the start.

In the end, a program is only as smart as the programmer(s) who creates it. The branching logic has to be, well, logical. The rules to branch have to be logical and, in a perfect world, should be mutually exclusive. If a researcher could account for EVERY possible way that he/she could interpret the data and the program is coded to decipher the content that way then the expectation that the computer would outperform the human could be warranted.

I’m not holding my breath for computers to outperform humans by becoming sentient but I do believe that programmers may be able to eventually code for all possiblities…and that will explode the method exponentially as well.

Are you the person who has the same password for everything? Could your best friend guess it? How about your boss? I would prefer to think that no one but my partner could possibly guess the user name and passwords I have come up with. And the fact that I rotate them with every new membership causes even confuses me.

There has to be a better way to remember your user name and password and still maintain security. I will start this adventure with 2 of each.

  • Password: MrFraiser
  • Password: Checkmate

I am a fragmented person on the web. I believe in this slice of postmodernism. But I don’t want to be so fragmented that I come off as insincere. So, for this exercise my goal is to maintain the above two identities and a new third one. I dare say that I could split myself in two (or three) if, for instance, I wanted to be perceived as goofy in one community and a mentor in the other. So, we know that it is harder to change our user name than it is to change our password. I have encountered a few sites that allow you to change your user name but then that’s like moving – ie. you have to send out announcements and notices. So, my first step at password security is having separate ones for each of my identities. On a side note, I also have completely different passwords on bank accounts and the handful of other high security areas.

I wanted to know how well my current password strength is. Using the following tools, I surmised that my first password strength was weak and so was my second one.

I want to keep in the spirit of my current credentials. So let’s explore how I can make them more secure.

Password: MrFraiser
Now, not many people could guess my elementary school music teacher’s name but if you dug around a bit you would know that I am a musician and love music. You would also note that MrFraiser is a common phrase, much like MrSmith or MrsRobinson. So to make it stronger let’s change some words to numbers and increase the length.

Now that gets me a strong on the password checker. Even still, there are password hacks who’s first instinct is to check for letter replacements. So to make the password even stronger let’s employ the create a sentence rule.

Password: Mf!m3$mT
Great! We still have a strong password here. I’ve created it from the sentence “Mr. Fraiser is my elementary school music teacher” or “M(r.) f(raiser) !(s) m(y) 3(lementary) $(chool) m(usic) T(eacher)” and include both upper case and lower case letters. It is also pretty fool proof from the entry-level hacker. Not the strongest but we’re almost there.

Now I’m looking for the strongest password I can come up with for both security and ease of remembering. What I have done is kept my original sentence and added the site for which the password is applied. So for Youtube it would be Mf!m3$mTYouTube. This get’s me at best on the Microsoft password checker site.

My other password is Checkmate.

In three simple steps let’s take this from weak to best.

1. ch3Ckm8
2. YK!0Cm83T- Y(our) K(ing) !(oses) 0(n) C(heck) m8 3(very) T(ime)
3. YK!0Cm83Tmypace

So here’s what others are saying about passwords:

Information on the new WordPress password strength indicator.

Forgot your windows password? How to get in without using any software.

Or you could try the Ctrl+Alt+Delete twice method

Password computer basics – The music reminds me of all the training videos I have ever had to watch in my life.

Security Wise Vlog on password strength.

Fragmented Self is meant to be a personal experience of the web sphere. It seems that I and many others have so many user names and passwords that we need tools to manage them. We don’t just create a single identity like the one we carry around in our wallets. We create multiple identities because we are told it is more secure and safer.

I am a social subscriber. I will subscribe to pretty much anything that is free and useful. I will also come up with a variety of different user names and passwords. I have some that are iron clad with symbols and numbers and the whole bit. I can easily cycle through 10 different user names depending on the year the account was made. I have an especially hard one for my bank account and a relatively easy one for my junk mail account. At this point, if a site does not provide a “Forgot your password” link, I don’t sign up.

That brings me to the Fragmented Self project I am which I am designing this blog around. I am a member of a variety of communities. Social memberships, reference tools, research, reading, learning…you name it and I probably have a user name.

So with all of these names in space. How can I connect them again? How do I manage my identity and re-centralize my presence. My idea – to blog about the interconnectedness of web tools and services out there. Who connects to who and how can you use it? First stop, Word Press.