Science or Pseudoscience?
The other day, nsetzer sent me a link to a new study suggesting a possible link between being born in April and having a higher risk of suicide. He was concerned with a possible correlation/causation mix-up that could lead to astrologers declaring victory.
It does seem fishy. It immediately reminded me of another study done last year by the infinitely entertaining Dr. Richard Wiseman, suggesting that people born in spring are actually happier and therefore less likey to fall prey to depression. Huh.
So I put off writing about this, because I’m afraid I just don’t have the science (of psychology) chops or access to the studies required to make up my mind in the slightest. It is definitely within the realm of believability that our first few months out of the womb can impact the way we grow up — the question is, how much? Obviously, the time of year we’re born can’t come close to giving us the kind of information that astrologers pull out of their asses, but there is a chance it could result in certain seasonal trends. These two seemingly contradictory studies show that it’s not nearly as cut and dry as the pseudoscientists would have us believe.
On a side note, I came across this quote from one Carol Watkins, MD, while Googling around:
In 1997, more adolescents died from suicide than AIDS, cancer, heart disease, birth defects and lung disease.Ã‚Â
That is surely one of the most useless scare-mongering statistics I’ve ever read in my life. In other news, more adolescents died in 1998 from shark attacks than colon cancer, Alzheimer’s, herpes, paragliding, bestiality, shuffleboard, and spontaneous combustion COMBINED.
Now, I’m off to hop on a train to Maine for a day of partying with fellow skeptics. For those of you in New England, we do this kind of thing a lot so let me know if you want to get involved in the next meet-up.