Fake President May Have Left His Brain Behind in Some Other Dimension


Choose your favorite

❝ “When people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again. Nobody takes anything. It’s really a disgrace what’s going on.”

And…

❝ “If you buy a box of cereal — you have a voter ID. They try to shame everybody by calling them racist, or calling them something, anything they can think of, when you say you want voter ID. But voter ID is a very important thing.”

What? What?? WTF???

Increasing Number of Psychiatrists challenge the “Goldwater Rule”

❝ Do psychiatrists who question the mental state of President Donald Trump have a professional or personal obligation to speak out if they fear his words and actions endanger the nation?

That question prompted a packed and sometimes heated panel discussion…during the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association here. The answer for many, including some prominent members of the profession, was a resounding “yes.”

❝ But a 1973 APA policy known as the Goldwater Rule tells them they can’t — not without conducting an examination of the man and receiving proper authorization or consent — lest they be found guilty of unethical behavior, face professional rebuke, and ultimately, get themselves kicked out of the association…

❝ But many in the room disagreed. Some called the Goldwater Rule nothing more than a “gag” rule, a violation of their right to free speech, especially during these particularly tempestuous first months of the administration. They want the APA to eliminate the rule, or seriously modify it, because they need to be “liberated” to speak out about the clear signs and symptoms they’re trained to recognize, and which they believe suggest the president could lead the nation into an unnecessary war.

Regardless of personal convictions – mine certainly are strong and open – the article is a good read. An historic examination of a topic critical to medical disciplines and public freedoms.

Congressional Republicans start to question Trump’s mental health


Click to enlarge

Think thousands showing up for protests help Trump’s instability?

❝ Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said early Sunday that Republican colleagues have expressed concern to him about President Trump’s mental health.

“A few, yeah,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“We all have this suspicion that, you know, he lies a lot. He says things that aren’t true. That’s the same as lying, I guess,” Franken…added.

❝ “You know, 3 to 5 million people voted illegally,” Franken said, referencing Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that widespread voter fraud cost him the popular vote.

“That is not the norm for a president of the United States or actually for a human being.”

Nutballs do everything they can to perpetuate their species in power. Even when they exceed design – and design flaws.

Lousy nutrition will make you stupid as well as fat

❝ Being overweight can raise your blood pressure, cholesterol and risk for developing diabetes. It could be bad for your brain, too.

A diet high in saturated fats and sugars, the so-called Western diet, actually affects the parts of the brain that are important to memory and make people more likely to crave the unhealthful food, says psychologist Terry Davidson…

❝ He didn’t start out studying what people ate. Instead, he was interested in learning more about the hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s heavily involved in memory…He did that by studying rats that had very specific types of hippocampal damage and seeing what happened to them.

In the process, Davidson noticed something strange. The rats with the hippocampal damage would go to pick up food more often than the other rats, but they would eat a little bit, then drop it.

Davidson realized these rats didn’t know they were full. He says something similar may happen in human brains when people eat a diet high in fat and sugar. Davidson says there’s a vicious cycle of bad diets and brain changes. He points to a 2015 study…that found obese children performed more poorly on memory tasks that test the hippocampus compared with kids who weren’t overweight.

❝ He says if our brain system is impaired by that kind of diet, “that makes it more difficult for us to stop eating that diet. … I think the evidence is fairly substantial that you have an effect of these diets and obesity on brain function and cognitive function.”…

❝ Davidson is…moving forward by studying how to break the vicious cycle of a Western diet, obesity and brain changes. But he says the underlying idea that obesity affects the brain is clear.

“It’s surprising to me that people would question that obesity would have a negative effect on the brain, because it has a negative effect on so many other bodily systems,” he says, adding, why would “the brain would be spared?”

Another smartass scientist who lets sound logic and data get in the way of profits from corporations producing and selling crap food. Will they never learn?

RTFA for a range of studies that move from correlation to causation.

Children conditioned by religion can’t tell fact from fiction

sunday school

A study published in the July issue of Cognitive Science determined that children who are not exposed to religious stories are better able to tell that characters in “fantastical stories” are fictional — whereas children raised in a religious environment even “approach unfamiliar, fantastical stories flexibly.”

In “Judgments About Fact and Fiction by Children From Religious and Nonreligious Backgrounds,” Kathleen Corriveau, Eva Chen, and Paul Harris demonstrate that children typically have a “sensitivity to the implausible or magical elements in a narrative,” and can determine whether the characters in the narrative are real or fictional by references to fantastical elements within the narrative, such as “invisible sails” or “a sword that protects you from danger every time.”

However, children raised in households in which religious narratives are frequently encountered do not treat those narratives with the same skepticism. The authors believed that these children would “think of them as akin to fairy tales,” judging “the events described in them as implausible or magical and conclude that the protagonists in such narratives are only pretend.”

And yet, “this prediction is likely to be wrong,” because “with appropriate testimony from adults” in religious households, children “will conceive of the protagonist in such narratives as a real person — even if the narrative includes impossible events…”

This conclusion contradicts previous studies in which children were said to be “born believers,” i.e. that they possessed “a natural credulity toward extraordinary beings with superhuman powers. Indeed, secular children responded to religious stories in much the same way as they responded to fantastical stories — they judged the protagonist to be pretend.”

The researchers also determined that “religious teaching, especially exposure to miracle stories, leads children to a more generic receptivity toward the impossible

Then, they grow up and vote.

Thanks, Helen

Is your mental health seasonal?

A new study using the patterns of Google search queries suggests that mental illnesses flourish in winter and decline in summer.

In both the United States and Australia, researchers found distinct seasonal patterns, high in winter and low in summer, in searches pertaining to anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, depression, suicide, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and schizophrenia. The study appears in the May issue of The American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Searches related to eating disorders varied the most — 37 percent higher in winter than summer in the United States and 42 percent higher in Australia. The smallest variations were in searches related to anxiety: 7 percent and 15 percent more common in winter than summer in the United States and Australia, respectively. The variations persisted after he researchers controlled for seasonal differences in Internet use, mentions of the diseases in news articles and other factors.

Why this happens, and whether it is connected to increased incidence, is unclear, but it is known that varying hours of daylight, variations in physical activity and seasonal changes in blood levels of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids can affect mood.

We have new kinds of data with which we can start to think about seasonality,” said the lead author, John W. Ayers, a research professor at San Diego State University. “This is just the beginning of a new research agenda.”

Another one of those times when I wish I was 30 years younger. I’d love to start off into medical computational analysis in a field like this. Has to be satisfying regardless of the direction of results.

The future of gun control after the Newtown massacre

The brutal murder of 20 children and seven adults in Newtown, Connecticut, shakes us to the core as individuals and requires a response as citizens. The United States seems to reel from one mass gun killing to another – roughly one a month this year alone. Easy access to guns in the US leads to horrific murder rates relative to other highly educated and wealthy societies. America needs to find a better way.

Other countries have done so. Between the mid-1970’s and the mid-1990’s, Australia had several mass shootings. After a particularly horrible massacre in 1996, a new prime minister, John Howard, declared that enough was enough. He instituted a severe crackdown on gun ownership, and forced would-be gun owners to submit to a rigorous application process, and to document why they would need a gun.

Conditions for gun ownership in Australia are now very strict, and the registration and approval process can take a year or more. Howard’s government also implemented a rigorous “buyback” policy, to enable the government to purchase guns already owned by the public.

The policy worked. While violent crime has not ended in Australia, murders are down, and, even more dramatically, there has not been a single mass shooting since 1996 in which three or more people died (the definition used in many studies of mass shootings). Before the crackdown, there had been 13 such massacres in 18 years…

Yet the US still refuses to act, even after this year’s string of shocking incidents: the massacre in a movie theatre in Colorado, an attack on a Sikh community in Milwaukee, another on a shopping mall in Oregon, and many more before the ruthless slaughter of first graders and school staff in Newtown. The gun lobby in the US remains powerful, and politicians are afraid to counter it. Given the shooting of then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011, perhaps they even fear that they, too, might be targeted…

Continue reading

Can office dogs reduce stress?


Harry Truman said – “if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog”

If you are wondering how to improve morale, encourage collaboration and limit stress in your workplace — without spending too much money — maybe you should consider getting an office dog…

According to a preliminary investigation published in March…employees who bring their dog to the office can cap the amount of stress experienced during the day, and improve job satisfaction for all.

Randolph Barker, a dog-loving management professor, monitored the stress levels of employees at a retailing and manufacturing business with a 14-year history of allowing dogs in the workplace…[Randolph Barker!?]

The study found that while everyone started the day with low baseline levels of the stress hormone cortisol, those who didn’t bring their dogs to work reported drastically higher levels of stress by the end of the working day.

Those who had their dogs with them had low levels of stress throughout the day, and about half of that group felt that dogs were important to their productivity. Of the two groups without dogs, 80% felt that the dogs in the workplace had no negative effect on productivity…

Barker also noted that the dogs appeared to be “communication energizers,” sparking conversations amongst employees, and increasing engagement.

“We think dogs’ presence in the workplace may reduce stress for their owners, increase job satisfaction even for those without pets, and it may increase perceptions of organizational support,” says Barker. “It’s a low-cost wellness intervention, or benefit, that’s available readily to any organization.”

But Barker suggests that dogs may be preferable meeting participants than some colleagues. “They don’t judge us,” he says, “and when no one else will listen to you, your dog will listen to you.”

RTFA. Anecdotes both useful and humorous. Tech companies seem to lead the way in adoption of the policy – which is no surprise.

Working from home, an easy interlude going for a walk with Rally is an immediate break to any writer’s block that might be afflicting me. And she couldn’t care less what I talk about while we’re walking – as long as there’s a cookie waiting at the end of the walk.