Disclaimer: This post won’t give you perfect grades. You are better off with hard work and plenty of sleep.

We have seen claims like this before:

Or news stories that claim simple solutions to the most devastating of diseases:

Fox News

These claims appeal to our most basic emotions and fears. We want to live healthy lives, free from illness and pain. Moreover, we want easy solutions to our health needs and concerns. However, our mental and physical well-being isn’t always so simple. Adverts and news articles, like those seen above, prey on our desires and fears. Too often, these claims are put forth by persons wanting to sell you are product. It is important to keep a critical mind when you see these claims.

Information literacy is important in more than just school. These are life-long learning behaviors that can help you make informed decisions. Brian Dunning of Skeptoid Media sets out a 15-point checklist to help spot pseudoscience. Any time you encounter a scientific claim, especially when it comes to issues of health and medicine, you should ask some basic questions:

  • Is the claim said to be based on ancient knowledge?
  • Was the claim first announced through mass media, or through scientific channels?
  • Do the claimants state that their claim is being suppressed by authorities?
  • Does the claim sound far fetched, or too good to be true?
  • Do the claimants have legitimate credentials?

For the average person, trying to identify good medical science can be tough. Health News Review is a watchdog organization operated by trained medical professionals and scientific journalists. This site evaluates health related stories in popular media. It assigns a simple to understand five-star rating system based on the accuracy of the story. Health News Review is an excellent resource for fact checking popular, mainstream health claims.

The most important thing is to be informed. Prairie State College Library has numerous books to help.

 Ordinarily well : The case for antidepressants

by Peter Kramer

Call #RM332 .K73 2016

“Do antidepressants actually work, or are they just glorified dummy pills? How can we tell one way or the other?In Ordinarily Well, the celebrated psychiatrist and author Peter D. Kramer addresses the growing mistrust of antidepressants among the medical establishment and the broader public by taking the long view. He charts the history of the drugs’ development and the research that tests their worth, from the Swiss psychiatrist Roland Kuhn’s pioneering midcentury discovery of imipramine’s antidepressant properties to recent controversial studies suggesting that medications like Prozac and Paxil may be no better than placebos in alleviating symptoms. He unpacks the complex “inside baseball” of psychiatry–statistics–and reveals the fascinating ways that clinical studies and their results can be combined, manipulated, and skewed toward a desired conclusion. All the while, Kramer never loses sight of the patients themselves. He writes with deep empathy about his own clinical encounters over the decades as he weighed treatments, analyzed trial results, and considered the idiosyncrasies each case presented. As Kramer sees it, we must respect human complexity and the value of psychotherapy without denying the truth–that depression is a serious and destructive illness that demands the most effective treatment available”

The pseudoscience wars : Immanuel Velikovsky and the birth of the modern fringe
by Micharl Gordin

Call #Q172.5.P77 G674 2012

“Science today is hardly universally secure, and scientists seem themselves beset by critics, denialists, and those they label “pseudoscientists”—as seen all too clearly in battles over evolution and climate change. The Pseudoscience Wars simultaneously reveals the surprising Cold War roots of our contemporary dilemma and points readers to a different approach to drawing the line between knowledge and nonsense.”

Sport and exercise psychology : A critical introduction

by Aidan P. Moran

Call #GV706.4 .M67 2012

“Although sport is played with the body, it is won in the mind. Inspired by this idea, the second edition of this popular textbook provides a comprehensive critical introduction to sport and exercise psychology – a discipline that is concerned with the theory and practice of helping athletes to do their best when it matters the most.”


Cookbooks in the library (and online)

apples    Image modified under the Creative Commons license. Photo credit: arbyreed

Thanksgiving is around the corner! Do you need to bring a dish to a Thanksgiving celebration? Or perhaps you’re just looking to incorporate some variety into your daily diet?

The library holds a great number of recipes for special diets—for example, gluten-free, vegan, paleo, etc.—and that represent a wide range of cuisines. Check out this month’s display in the library, or, go online to access a huge selection of recipes in the form of eBooks and magazine articles. (Current PSC students and faculty members can even access these digital materials from home!)

To find  recipes online using the PSC catalog, first select the Advanced Search option on the library homepage.




Within the Advanced Search, type in “cooking” OR “cookbooks” into the search box. Note: the default Boolean operator is “and.” By switching the operator to “or,” a larger number of results will appear. Also select the “SU Subject Terms” field from the drop-down menu next to the text boxes. Click “Search.” This will retrieve the library items that have been categorized into the “cooking” or “cookbooks” categories.


Now, you can browse through the results, or add another term to the last search box in the top if you’re looking for a specific diet, cuisine, or ingredient. Limiting the Source Types to Magazines and eBooks will exclude scholarly reports and articles related to food (these types of sources don’t typically include recipes).


As always, please contact us if you have any questions about using the Advanced Search (or if you have any other questions about using the library!).

October is Breast cancer awareness month


In 2011 (the most recent year numbers are available)—

  • 220,097 women and 2,078 men in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer.*†
  • 40,931 women and 443 men in the United States died from breast cancer.*†

*Incidence counts cover about 99% of the U.S. population; death counts cover about 100% of the U.S. population. Use caution when comparing incidence and death counts.

†Source: U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2011 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2014.

                   The following books on the topic are available in the library.

Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book

Mayo clinic breast cancer book

The big squeeze

The Breast Cancer survival manual

The breast reconstruction guide book

Plagues of the Past

Credit: NIH
Credit: NIH

Everyone’s worried about Ebola lately, right? Ebola in Texas, West Africa, where will it strike next? What will become of the parts of Africa where it has struck? Well what about all the plagues and diseases of the past?  Ebola isn’t the first disease to strike the world.

There was the Black Death, also known as the Bubonic plague in the 1300s. In four years, it killed “tens of millions of people” in Europe. (source) It’s caused by bacteria, Yersinia Pestis, which overwhelms the immune system. Nowadays, only 5% of those with Bubonic plague may die due to medical intervention, but back in the day, “fifty to ninety percent of untreated” patients would die.

On the plus side, Europe became a lot more sanitary after that, cleaning up the rodents that could have caused the plague. They also started improving diets because those who were weaker, older, or sick already were most of the people who died from the Bubonic plague.

Another disease causing multiple epidemics was smallpox. It was extremely infectious between humans and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths in Europe from 1400-1800. It also has hit China, Egypt, and the Roman Empire, causing massive casualties. It only takes 24 hours for the rash to spread over the entire body. Still, death didn’t come for 11-16 days after showing symptoms. It wasn’t until 1967 that the World Health Organization tried to eradicate it globally. At that time the disease was mostly in India. It was considered eradicated after the last case in 1977. (Agents of Bioterrorism by Geoffrey Zubay et al. QR 175.M55)world map

Up until now and since 1976, Ebola has come in outbreaks infecting and killing hundreds, but this time the virus has spread to nearly 5000 people killing 52% of them. (source) There are a few strains of Ebola with varying fatality rates, usually from 50-90%. It can take three weeks for the virus to kill someone, but it can take three months to recover. Since it’s a virus and not a bacterial infection, it is more difficult to create a vaccine for it.

So will there be any changes in Africa once the epidemic ends? Will it be like the plague where they learned from it and improved hygiene practices and diet? Will someone be able to create a vaccine?

I found it very interesting to sit down with a few of these books and skim them for information about plagues and diseases. If you want to learn more about these and other viruses, pandemics, epidemics, and plagues, check out some of the books we have on this topic. You can also visit the QR, microbiology, section of our collection for more books on viruses.

Bioterrorism To Catch a Virus The Viral Storm 50 pandemics Rising Plague

National Physical Fitness and Sports Month


Now that May and warmer weather have arrived, consider the benefits of improving fitness.

The following selected titles are available in the library.

Understanding fitness:  how exercise fuels health and fights disease

Return to fitness:  getting back in shape after injury, illness, or prolonged inactivity.

Getting physical:  the rise of fitness culture in America

100 questions and answers about sports nutrition and exercise

Fitness through aerobics