Post List

  • May 19, 2010
  • 11:34 AM

The Landscape of Obesity: considerations of race as a factor

by Greg Laden in Greg Laden's Blog

SciCurious has written a review of an interesting paper suggesting a correlation between obesity and city vs. non-city life. As usual, the review by Sci is excellent, but I have a comment or two to add.

Having read the review and then the paper, I had to ask if it might be possible to conclude based on the data presentation that "race" (and thus "genetics") underlies the observed effect. This is because of this graph: Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 11:16 AM

How a polluted environment can lead to illness

by Katie Kline in EcoTone

A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics revealed alarming findings: A link between children diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and traces of the breakdown of organophosphate pesticides in their urine. Pollutants like pesticides can have both direct and indirect effects on human and wildlife health as a result of changes in an ecosystem.

... Read more »

Palmer, M., Bernhardt, E., Schlesinger, W., Eshleman, K., Foufoula-Georgiou, E., Hendryx, M., Lemly, A., Likens, G., Loucks, O., Power, M.... (2010) Mountaintop Mining Consequences. Science, 327(5962), 148-149. DOI: 10.1126/science.1180543  

Johnson, P., Townsend, A., Cleveland, C., Glibert, P., Howarth, R., McKenzie, V., Rejmankova, E., & Ward, M. (2010) Linking environmental nutrient enrichment and disease emergence in humans and wildlife. Ecological Applications, 20(1), 16-29. DOI: 10.1890/08-0633.1  

  • May 19, 2010
  • 10:37 AM

Oh no! My cell phone's going to kill me! (The revenge)

by Orac in Respectful Insolence

Here we go again.

I've written a few times before about the controversy over whether cell phones (a.k.a. mobile phones in most of the rest of the world) cause brain cancer, concluding on more than one occasion that the evidence does not support a link. For example, there has not been a large increase in brain cancer or other cancers claimed to be due to cell phone radiation in the 15 to 20 years since the use of cell phones took off back in the 1990s, nor has any study shown a convincing correl........ Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 10:05 AM

The "Big Four," part II: Mutation

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

This post is the second in a special series about four fundamental forces in evolution: natural selection, mutation, genetic drift, and migration.

In order for populations to change over time, to descend with modification, as Darwin originally put it, something has to create the modifications. That something is mutation.

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Barton, N., & Keightley, P. (2002) Understanding quantitative genetic variation. Nature Reviews Genetics, 3(1), 11-21. DOI: 10.1038/nrg700  

Drake J.W., Charlesworth B., Charlesworth D., & Crow J.F. (1998) Rates of spontaneous mutation. Genetics, 148(4), 1667-86. PMID: 9560386  

Linnen, C., Kingsley, E., Jensen, J., & Hoekstra, H. (2009) On the origin and spread of an adaptive allele in deer mice. Science, 325(5944), 1095-8. DOI: 10.1126/science.1175826  

Tokuriki, N., & Tawfik, D. (2009) Protein dynamism and evolvability. Science, 324(5924), 203-7. DOI: 10.1126/science.1169375  

  • May 19, 2010
  • 09:05 AM

“Crazier you (or your family) are, more creative you are likely to be”

by Kandarp Mehta in Creatologue - Exploring Creativity

Do you (and some your like-minded neighbors) think that some of your family members are crazy? Well, if your answer is yes, researchers from Karolinska Institutet, Sweden have good news for you. Greater the degree of lunacy in your family … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 08:15 AM

Breaking the vulture monopoly on scavenger restaurants

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

A recent observational study in northern Spain reveals that making a dinner reservation is important even for diners at a vulture restaurant.

As a sanitary disposal area of animal carcases, vulture restaurants provide a dual purpose of preventing contagious diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy while serving as feeding stations for scavenging bird species that might otherwise be declining due to habitat loss.

However, these feeding stations do not mirror traditional patterns of........ Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Do Obese People Get Poorer Health Care?

by Arya M. Sharma in Dr. Sharma's Obesity Notes

I have previously blogged about the problem of weight bias amongst health professionals and how this can possibly lead to poorer health care for people with excess weight.
A new study by Virginia Chang and colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania, just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests that the quality [...]... Read more »

Chang VW, Asch DA, & Werner RM. (2010) Quality of care among obese patients. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association, 303(13), 1274-81. PMID: 20371786  

  • May 19, 2010
  • 07:59 AM

Modest Men Get Sorely Trashed

by Ultimo167 in Strong Silent Types

Moss-Racusin et al. (2010) begin to describe the backlash dished out to modest men, for being presumably weak and insecure, but then stop short and ask for more. ... Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 07:51 AM

Does Oral Sex Confer An Evolutionary Advantage? Evidence From Bats

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal

Regular readers of this blog know that while I think studying animal cognition, behavior, and communication is (sometimes) fun and (always) interesting, the real importance - the why should I care about this - is because by understanding animals, we can attempt to learn more about ourselves.

I've written about this before. Here are the relevant excerpts:
When human adults show complex, possibly culture-specific skills, they emerge from a set of psychological (and thus neural) mechanisms which ........ Read more »

Tan M, Jones G, Zhu G, Ye J, Hong T, Zhou S, Zhang S, & Zhang L. (2009) Fellatio by fruit bats prolongs copulation time. PLoS ONE, 4(10). PMID: 19862320  

  • May 19, 2010
  • 06:23 AM

Mary Poppins was right: a spoonful of sugar DOES help the medicine go down

by Helen Jaques in In Sickness and In Health

A new study has found that giving children up to one year old a sweet solution before jabs reduces the pain of the immunisation, providing a scientific basis for Mary Poppins’ maxim that “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”
The meta-analysis looked at fourteen randomised controlled trials that assessed the effects of oral [...]... Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 05:36 AM

Can a fear of blushing be cured in a weekend?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

You may have heard of weekend workshops in creative writing or first aid but what about a weekend course to reduce your fear of blushing? Could such a brief, intensive intervention help people for whom a dread of turning red ruins their social lives and undermines their success at work? According to a new, preliminary study - the answer is a tentative Yes.Samia Chaker and colleagues recruited through adverts in a German pharmacy magazine 27 people with social phobia, and in particular a fear of ........ Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 05:35 AM

Towards a Focal Consensus in Cognitive Neuroscience: Databases and Meta-Analyses

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Moving right along with our timely, fast-paced, cutting edge blog coverage from the CNS 2010 Annual Meeting [held last month], the first symposium urged the field to advance beyond the current piecemeal single-study approach to neuroimaging by moving Towards a cumulative science of human brain function.1 Building comprehensive, structured, and searchable databases (Van Essen, 2009) and using meta-analytic tools (Wager et al., 2009) were proposed to be key methods aimed at achieving this goal......... Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 05:30 AM

H1N1 measures ‘bought valuable time’ in Vietnam

by Wellcome Trust in Wellcome Trust Blog

Though some consider the precautionary measures taken during the H1N1 swine flu epidemic to have been excessive, ‘better safe than sorry’ was an understandable position for health officials to take. That stance is justified to some degree by the results of a study published today in PLoS Medicine. The analysis of the first few months [...]... Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 05:30 AM

How many minutes a day should you exercise?

by Yoni Freedhoff in Weighty Matters

I don't think there's a one size fits all answer.Last week the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) and ParticipACTION released their new recommendations that saw their minimum recommended amounts of exercise drop to 60 minutes a day for children and 90-150 minutes a week for adults.I was critical of their press release. I felt that by providing specific numbers and omitting calls to action to change the environment it perpetuated the notion that sloth is a disease of the in........ Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 05:12 AM

Cold weather limits potential range of Burmese python invasion

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

The well-publicized invasion of Burmese pythons in the United States is unlikely to spread farther north than south Florida according to a new study by scientists from the National Wildlife Research Center...... Read more »

Avery, M., Engeman, R., Keacher, K., Humphrey, J., Bruce, W., Mathies, T., & Mauldin, R. (2010) Cold weather and the potential range of invasive Burmese pythons. Biological Invasions. DOI: 10.1007/s10530-010-9761-4  

  • May 19, 2010
  • 02:17 AM

French – the brand

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

Installment #6 in the mini-series on multilingual signage
Multilingualism sells! Some forms of multilingualism that is. In the world of marketing, languages operate like brands: they are a signifier for something else but they are devoid of substance. To phrase it in Marxist terminology: the exchange value of languages has in some contexts come to overshadow [...]... Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 01:34 AM

The Neurogenesis theory of depression and a little guy called CREB

by Evil Monkey in Neurotopia

Sci wishes she could begin this post with something clever. But she has a cold. Suffice it to say that this paper is cool and interesting. And also, as Sci has a cold, I expect all of you to read this post out loud to yourselves in suitably stuffy, gluey Sci-voices.


Gur et al. "cAMP Response Element-Binding Protein Deficiency Allows for Increased Neurogenesis and a Rapid Onset of Antidepressant Response" The Journal of Neuroscience, 2007.

(Yeah, yeah, the title is long and sca........ Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 01:11 AM

a possible link between pesticides and ADHD

by Tal Yarkoni in citation needed

A forthcoming article in the journal Pediatrics that’s been getting a lot of press attention suggests that exposure to common pesticides may be associated with a substantially elevated risk of ADHD. More precisely, what the study found was that elevated urinary concentrations of organophosphate metabolites were associated with an increased likelihood of meeting criteria for [...]... Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 12:48 AM

Atlatls to Bows: A Very Strange Atlatl from Washington State

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Sometime in the early 1950s a wooden object was dredged from the mouth of the Skagit River, north of Seattle.  It ended up in the possession of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Johnson, residents of the nearby town of La Conner.  In 1952 the Johnsons showed it to two local archaeologists, Herbert Taylor of Western Washington [...]... Read more »

Taylor, H., & Caldwell, W. (1954) Carved Atlatl from Northwest Coast. American Antiquity, 19(3), 279. DOI: 10.2307/277136  

  • May 19, 2010
  • 12:00 AM

Evidence-Based Health Law Calls for Measured Laws

by Paul Statt in Paul Statt Communications

How can you measure the impact of a law? The Obama administration, for example, recently called for an “evidence-based” approach to the writing of laws and policies that affect the public’s health in matters of drug abuse. But applying the scientific method to an evaluation of a law’s impact requires a rigorous approach to measurement. In “Measuring Law for Public HealthEvaluation Research,” published in the June 2010 Evaluation Review, Charles Tremper, Sue Thomas and Alexander C. Wa........ Read more »

Tremper, C., Thomas, S., & Wagenaar, A. (2010) Measuring Law for Evaluation Research. Evaluation Review, 34(3), 242-266. DOI: 10.1177/0193841X10370018  

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