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The power of indifference an open letter to the scientific community

indifference

Suddenly your absent-minded thoughts are shattered by a loud noise. Quickly you look around, to the left of you, you see it, and a child has been shot, you see them bleeding heavily. People are standing around with their phones, some calling emergency services, some filming, but most looking confused and scared. No one is actively trying to help; you hear that they are afraid that the person, or persons, who shot the child is still around. What do you do next, do you choose indifference, or do you help?

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Trumped: Why the election is a symptom of a bigger problem

Donald trump hands

Donald trump hands

Right now you are probably thinking that I am going to unleash some poorly thought out diatribe about president elect Trump. No, that is not going to happen. It is not going to happen because he is not the problem, you are the problem, I am the problem, and we are the problem. That goes for those of you who are atheists, Catholics, Muslims, conservatives and liberals, or anything in-between.

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Prostitution has gone online — and pimps are thriving

internet sex

internet sex

With the sale of sex shifting online, today’s pimps are avoiding police detection by using underground websites, social media, mobile apps and even by hiding their ads on mainstream sites such as Craigslist and Backpage. In a first-of-its-kind study, criminologists interviewed 71 pimps in Atlanta and Chicago to determine how their marketing decisions are influenced by police enforcement of online prostitution.

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Why everyone wants to help the sick — but not the unemployed

unemployment

unemployment

New research explains why healthcare costs are running out of control, while costs to unemployment protection are kept in line. The answer is found deep in our psychology, where powerful intuitions lead us to view illness as the result of bad luck and worthy of help.

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Suicidal thinking and US veterans

Military sucide
Military sucide

Nearly 14 percent of Veterans reported suicidal thinking at one or both phases of a two-year VA study.
Image credit goes to: Michael Escalante

Something very personal about me, the thought of suicide is never too far behind. It is to the point that I need to qualify it to my counselor when I am asked if I have thoughts of suicide, I always do. A new study shows that I am far from alone Nearly 14 percent of military veterans reported suicidal thinking at one or both phases of a two-year Veterans Affairs (VA) study.

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Why people oppose same-sex marriage

Marriage
Marriage

More pearls of wisdom from the great Cyanide and happiness.

Marriage is legal (here in the US anyway), now I’m not gay, but that is exciting to me. So the question remains, has society fallen apart? Are cats hanging out with dogs and toast falling butter side up? Of course not, so then why do opponents of same-sex marriage really oppose it? A UCLA psychology study concludes that many people believe gay men and women are more sexually promiscuous than heterosexuals, which they may fear could threaten their own marriages and their way of life.

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Taser shock disrupts brain function, has implications for police interrogations

Are police using tasers the wrong way?

Are police using tasers the wrong way?

More than two million citizens have been Tased by police as Taser stun guns have become one of the preferred less-lethal weapons by police departments across the United States during the past decade. But what does that 50,000-volt shock do to a person’s brain?

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Why you should never use the term ‘the mentally ill’

The Power of Language and Labels: “The Mentally Ill” Versus “People With Mental Illnesses”
The Power of Language and Labels: “The Mentally Ill” Versus “People With Mental Illnesses”

Yes, it’s real… you can find more information here
Image credit goes to: Jenn Ackerman

Even subtle differences in how you refer to people with mental illness can affect levels of tolerance, a new study has found. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers found that participants showed less tolerance toward people who were referred to as “the mentally ill” when compared to those referred to as “people with mental illness.”

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Women, do you want to be a leader at a teaching hospital? Grow a mustache!

Analysis of top medical school and teaching hospitals highlights gender disparities among physician leaders

Analysis of top medical school and teaching hospitals highlights gender disparities among physician leaders

Thirteen percent of department leader positions at top academic medical institutions in the United States are held by women, while nearly 20 percent are held by men with mustaches. The findings of the tongue-in-cheek study, an analysis of more than 1,000 headshots of department leaders at top National Institutes of Health-funded academic medical institutions, provide a new context for examining gender disparities in the field.

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Students in credit crisis

Students in credit crisis

New research from the USA suggests that college students are well aware that they should be personally responsible for their finances, including their card obligations, but this awareness rarely correlates with limiting the debts they accrue during their time in higher education.

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On Wikipedia, politically controversial science topics vulnerable to information sabotage

On Wikipedia, politically controversial science topics vulnerable to information sabotage

Wikipedia reigns. It’s the world’s most popular online encyclopedia, the sixth most visited website in America, and a research source most U.S. students rely on. But Wikipedia entries on politically controversial scientific topics can be unreliable due to information sabotage.

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Health factors influence ex-prisoners’ chances of returning to jail

prison overcrowding

Ex-prisoners with a history of risky drug use, mental illness or poverty are more likely to end up back behind bars. Those who are obese, are chronically ill or have attempted suicide are more likely to remain in the community. These are some of the findings from an exploratory study into health-related factors that could be used to predict whether a person released from prison will end up in custody again.

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The new normal? Addressing gun violence in America

don't shoot I want to grow up

Mass shootings have a significant impact on our individual and collective psyche, especially when they happen at schools. Despite the fact that children die every day from gun violence, school shootings upset us in ways that are difficult to comprehend. In our minds, schools serve as safe havens for children. When that image is shattered, the unpredictability and randomness of such heinous acts leave us wondering if anywhere is safe anymore. Thus, the shock and horror expressed following these events is not surprising.

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Restricting firearms access for people who misuse alcohol may prevent violence

gun control

Restricting access to firearms for people who misuse alcohol could prevent firearm violence, but policies that more clearly define alcohol misuse should be developed to facilitate enforcement, according to a review of existing research and public policies by the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program.

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Which is most valuable: Gold, cocaine or rhino horn?

These are elephants in Botswana

These are elephants in Botswana. Image credit goes to: Blaire Van Valkenburgh

Many of the world’s largest herbivores — including several species of elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses and gorillas — are in danger of becoming extinct. And if current trends continue, the loss of these animals would have drastic implications not only for the species themselves, but also for other animals and the environments and ecosystems in which they live, according to a new report by an international team of scientists.

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UK Researchers find parental perception of child’s weight is skewed

Childhood-Obesity

Childhood obesity affects more than double the amount of children it did 30 years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). To figure out why the rate is increasing researchers studied the relationship between parents and their obese children to determine how to improve pediatric health. The study actually reveals how poorly parents rate their own child’s weight issues — at least until they reach extreme levels of obesity.

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Biofuel, good for the environment if you’re eating less

ethanol gas from corn

When the government first changed policy to require ethanol in gasoline, we were told it would reduce our carbon footprint. Then food prices rose significantly and corn in particular saw the largest price rise. This was because corn is a staple in production of almost any other food from eggs to beef, but the policy made environmental sense. Well it made sense, until you found out that the new policy also took into account people eating less.

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Research on medical abortion/miscarriage may change international routines

pro-choice-symbol

Two scientific studies are expected to form the basis of new international recommendations for the treatment of medical abortions and miscarriages. One of the studies shows that it is possible to replace the clinical follow-up examinations recommended today with medical abortions that include a home pregnancy test. The other study shows that midwives can safely and effectively treat failed abortions and miscarriages in rural districts of Uganda.

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FDA struggles to define what “natural” means for food labels

all natural food label

After decades of debate there remains no generally accepted definition of a “natural” food product. Despite a gamut of products with the label prominently displayed, it has caused a headache in lawsuits for the government who have yet to define “natural”. According to new research, while regulatory agencies have refused to settle the issue, they may be under new pressure from those consumer lawsuits.

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Study shows modest reductions in ER visits from the ACA implementation

emergency room

It’s future might still be in the air to those of us not on the supreme court, but two patient groups created by the Affordable Care Act (or ACA, also known as “Obama care”) – Medicare patients enrolled in federally designated patient-centered medical homes and people under age 26 who are allowed to remain on their parents’ health insurance – had slightly fewer emergency department visits than they had before health care reform. However, there was no change in the rate of the most expensive types of emergency visits: those that lead to hospitalization.

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Political gridlock: Blame the men

senate

It feels like the government moves at a snails pace sometimes, it takes forever for any change to come about and even then it is typically not even “change.” This couldn’t be more evident than during the political gridlock that led to the 2013 US federal government shutdown, the leading voices for compromise were the handful of female U.S. senators — only 20 percent of the overall legislative body.

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Finding the real cost of climate change

 

climate change

How much does global warming really cost the world? Determining the Social Cost of Carbon helps put a actual dollar value on the climate damages per ton of CO2 released, and is used by — among others — policymakers to help determine the costs and benefits of climate policies. Remember, even on a global scale, the bottom line will always be profit. But now a group of economists and lawyers urge several improvements to the government’s Social Cost of Carbon figure that would impose a regular, transparent and peer-reviewed process to ensure the figure is reliable and well-supported by the latest facts.

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Our increased carbon dioxide output causes global warming and now we have proof

global warming

Global warming, it’s a bigger deal than some people seem to realize. For years science has pointed to the increased carbon dioxide output as the main reason for man-made global warming. However, there has been no evidence to directly link CO2 output to global warming, well until now. Research has identified, for the first time, how global warming is related to the amount of carbon emitted.

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Even more bad global warming news

global warming

While everyone (but seemingly the media) is on basically the same page with the fact that global warming is a human caused problem — and one we need to fix the effects of this change are still coming to light. Human-induced changes to Earth’s carbon cycle – for example, rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and ocean acidification – have been observed for decades. However, a new study showed human activities, in particular industrial and agricultural processes, have also had significant impacts on the upper ocean nitrogen cycle.

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A look at Air Pollution and Your Body

CHINA-ENVIRONMENT-POLLUTION-HEALTH

We have all probably seen stories from China on the horrid air pollution there. Accompanying those reports of course are the statistics for air pollution that deaths have caused. For the record, the World Health Organization estimated that ambient air pollution caused 3.7 million premature deaths (worldwide) in 2012 alone – yet what exactly happens to your body when it encounters pollutants?

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Hobby Lobby and the War on Race and Women

womens health

There is a war going on and it’s not on foreign soil. This war is the fight for the status quo, a war where you are only worth your skin color, a war where you are only worth as much as your gender. This war is all around us, we see it everyday, yet we let it quietly pass us by. We do this because, in all actuality, we are losing this war. I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me, you shouldn’t. Frankly I would read this to see the history of this war in action. But where that post focused more on color, I am going to be focusing more on gender and it isn’t pretty.

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When Crazy becomes a Crime

mental-illness

My friend has a glass eye, you would never notice and unless you knew the story you might not think anything of it. His older brother did it. Yes, you read that correctly, in a schizophrenic rage he gouged out his eye and almost killed him. He never held what happened against his older brother, he was sick, how could he? At least that was his logic. The courts didn’t agree, he would not be allowed to visit his brother while he resided in prison, even ten years [and several appeals] after the fact. Unfortunately he isn’t alone, new research has linked tighter Medicaid policies governing antipsychotic drugs with increased incarceration rates for schizophrenic individuals.

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More Horror from Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

oil platform

Deepwater Horizon, it was a technological feat to get oil that deep in the water. Then the spill occurred, when it happened I honestly think more people were in shock than angry. We had never dealt with an oil spill like that before, much less one in the heart of such a huge fishing community. Louisiana business suffered and probably continues to suffer from the spill and the tons of oil that were spilled. Frankly the people in charge freaked out and just did everything they could to clean it up as quickly as possible. That unfortunately included the use of lots and lots of dispersants [chemicals to break up oil so nature can degrade and break down the oil more quickly].

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Saving the Rainforest and the Consequences

rainforest

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. This seems even more true when a new study came out that shows, when it comes to fixing deforestation and forest degradation, even good intentions can lead to bad outcomes. I hate to sound like a broken record when it comes to this whole “climate change” stuff, but it really needs to be addressed sometime…

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A Startling New Climate Change Revelation!

climate change

Call out the troops, call the Marines, we need tanks, lots of tanks. Well okay, maybe not. Brute force won’t stop global warming and thanks to a new study on the subject it turns out, not much else will either. Oh there is of course the obvious lower CO2 emissions, but that’s not a big deal. I don’t know why it takes scientific studies to tell us this, but the greenhouse gas CO2 that we pump out in millions of  tons — roughly 88 million tons, US of course since metric tonnes has to be different, or maybe that’s our fault — is bad for the environment.

I know we tend to think of ourselves as intelligent and generally I won’t argue otherwise, but let me just say… really?

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Climate Engineering: We can’t Build it Better after all

View from the international space station

View from the international space station

We have the technology: we can rebuild you, better, stronger, faster. Well we may have been able to build the six million dollar man better than before, but as it turns out, we can’t do the same for the environment.

For anyone actually listening to science [and I really hope you all are] it isn’t getting any cooler. Thanks to the rising CO2 levels in the world it’s only going to get hotter and with it, the weather more extreme. Yet some people out there — and unfortunately for us, the people with the power to actually make a change– simply don’t care. To them, even if it gets hotter, we can fix it. After all we have the technology.

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Climate Talks and Game Theory: A better Approach

climate change

Pretty much this…

Climate change talks, it’s like yelling at a wall and hoping it becomes a window. For over two decades, members of the United Nations have tried to forge an agreement to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Thankfully a new paper published offers a different approach to the problem using game theoretical modeling. (more…)


Genetically Modified Food: Myth and Legend

genetically-modified-food

Vermont, not quite the armpit of the United States, but not a place I would live [personally speaking of course]. Still, looking at history Vermont was the first to ban slavery [good], but now they are the first to do something else too, they are looking to ban all food that is genetically modified if it is not properly labeled [bad].

This bill is set to start a wildfire across the US with food scares, like any science scare, is easy to start and hard to stop [if at all]. Genetically modified food has helped cushion the ever growing population and the need to feed that population. People will [undoubtedly] argue otherwise, but all food is genetically modified one way or another.

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A [Real life] Doomsday Prediction

end-of-the-world

Fire, brimstone, four horsemen, doomsday seems pretty bleak in the biblical context. From a scientific perspective, global warming and the need for fresh water will probably plunge people into chaos, which seems like a more likely doomsday model. Unfortunately there are other ways in which the world could come crashing down around us, today I wanted to shed light on just one of those ways.

The most plausible [in my opinion] doomsday scenario comes not from an external force but from our imagination. Let me explain, most money that we deal with is just a placeholder, a social construct, a number on a screen and when dealing with the stock market, it gets even fuzzier, you can essentially make bets for money on [you guessed it] money.

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5 Reasons Why Science is Losing the War

Science is losing an unseen war and like any war it isn’t without its casualties. The true body count won’t be evident, not at first. This isn’t a war over land, or freedoms, it is a war on ignorance, a fight for the future. Science has brought us a level of comfort and connectivity we have never really seen. Unfortunately that connectivity is being used against us, allowing people with dubious motives to shout from the rooftops bold faced lies and a call for people to follow.

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Gender Bias: 178 girls still missing for going to school

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Roughly two weeks ago [April 16th] about 240 girls were abducted from a school in north-eastern Nigeria. From reports the scene played out like something from a B list movie, six flatbed trucks roll up to a school, armed men storm the building, and just like that, they were taken. Unfortunately Liam Neeson won’t be saving the day.

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Radiation is for the Birds… at least at Chernobyl

The control room of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant at Pripyat. Photo credit goes to: RIA Novosti

The control room of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant at Pripyat. Photo credit goes to: RIA Novosti

Twenty eight years ago yesterday brought about the worst nuclear disaster to date, I am [of course] talking about Chernobyl. Chernobyl was supposed to be the flagship of a peaceful atomic energy program by the USSR. It’s easy to think with everything going on in the Ukraine now, that the incident is far in the past and is never coming back, neither of those is the case.

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Dear Science, I’m so sorry…

child-scientists

Dear America,

It’s a sad fact that being intelligent is now the “uncool” thing to do. Wanting to participate in learning and actually knowing how the world works can mean being bullied or worse. The backlash of this movement [I assumed] would be felt strongly starting with my generation [as an 80’s child]. I was unfortunately incorrect with this assumption, maybe it started a lot earlier. (more…)


1 in 20 Misdiagnosed by Doctors: 10 things you can do about it

DoctorA new study out this week says that 1 in 20 adults will be misdiagnosed in outpatient clinics in the US. Thats roughly 12 million people each year, if that statistic isn’t frightening enough about half of those “have the potential to lead to serious harm.”

claimtoken-5351bbcca216b

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Cyberdyne, Google, and the Rise of Drones

terminator hand

Set in a futuristic dystopian world where humans are pitted against advanced robots controlled by an AI, Terminator plays out like the hollywood blockbuster it turned out to be. Set to pit a person’s innate fear of the unknown against the fear of technology itself, it was a big hit.

Any good apocalyptic movie needs to have a grounding in reality before it can take the leap from ordinary to extraordinary, but when events slowly play out, that are eerily similar to the movie, should you be worried?

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Tired of the weather? Blame the jet stream.

queens_new_york_city

Polar vortexes, snow storms and hurricanes, oh my!

Who’s tired of the crazy weather that most of the US and the UK are dealing with? I suspect that most are, in fact I don’t remember the last time I heard someone talk excitedly about being snowed in.

There is good news and bad news though, and like a true gentleman I will give the good news first. We know what is causing the weather changes we’ve seen.

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Vitamin C Cures Cancer?

orange juice

Does Vitamin C actually cure cancer?

Well, no, not quite. But new research shows that vitamin C can improve the response of the chemotherapy drugs. The tests, which have primarily been done on mice and in the lab,  show promise for future options in treatment.

Vitamin C, which is water soluble, easily passed from the body, and has low side-effect risk might be the key to better cancer therapies. If larger trials show promise, this could prove to be a low-cost addition to treatments already in place.

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