Quickies: Dangerous Supplements, ADHD in Girls, and Pick Up Artist Denied Visa

  • rWhy bad science won’t ever die – “The link between vaccines and health risks has a particularly strong grip on the popular imagination. Some parents simply refuse to vaccinate their kids at all, while one in ten parents have adopted a slow and delayed vaccine schedule for their children, based on the vague idea that vaccines are harmful. ‘I am being proven right about massive vaccinations—the doctors lied,’ tweeted Donald Trump in September of 2014. ‘Save our children & their future.’ ”
  • Too many supplements contain hidden and illegal drugs. Weight loss pills are the worst offenders. – “Some weight loss supplements contained appetite suppressants like sibutramine. The government removed sibutramine from the market in 2010 for safety reasons: It can increase blood pressure and pulse rate, causing coronary artery disease, heart failure, arrhythmias, stroke, and even death. Other weight loss pills contained antidepressants like Prozac, or hidden laxatives, including the drug phenolphthalein. Phenolphthalein was banned by the FDA after it was found to increase the risk of irregular heartbeat and cause cancer with long-term use.”
  • This paragraph on a black kindergartner’s view of the world is absolutely crushing – “I tutored a kid. This little black kid. He looked up to me a lot. One day he asked me, ‘Mr. Ebbie, is jail a good place to be?’ I said, ‘Why would you ever ask that?’ He said: ‘My daddy’s in jail and he said he gets three meals a day. And sometimes my mom can’t make me food and I’m hungry.’ ”
  • The Different Ways The Universe Might End Are Fascinating And Horrifying – A good collection of various articles on theories about the universe and its demise.
  • Controversial CRISPR history sets off an online firestorm – “On Twitter, biologist Michael Eisen of the UC Berkeley, who always discloses that his institutional affiliation can give the appearance of a conflict of interest on CRISPR, called Lander’s article ‘science propaganda at its most repellant.’ He, too, questioned the absence of a conflict-of-interest disclosure.”
  • Ecology’s $434,000,000 test – “The United States has invested in a grand ecological observatory, but the project has been dogged by budget overruns and delays.”
  • PETA pumps millions into scientific research in bid to spare lab animals – “There’s TraumaMan, a dummy whose layers of synthetic skin and fat look, feel, cut, bleed, and suture just like human flesh. Since 2013, PETA has helped purchase a small fleet of these guys — worth over $2 million — to distribute among medical training programs in the developing world so that doctors-to-be can practice their moves on TraumaMen instead of pigs and goats.”
  • Decades of failing to recognize ADHD in girls has created a “lost generation” of women – “ ’Anxiety and depression turn into low self-esteem and self-loathing, and the risk for self-harm and suicide attempts is four-to-five times that of girls without ADHD,’ 2012 research shows.”
  • It’s not just Flint — every major American city has hazardous amounts of lead hurting kids – “The CDC recommends follow-up and intervention for kids who have more than 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. But this is basically just a nice round number that leads to the happy conclusion that most kids’ brains aren’t being poisoned by lead. The underlying science offers the much less reassuring conclusion that any amount of lead is harmful and tons of kids are ingesting more lead than they should.”
  • “Pick-up artist” can’t score in Australia: No shelter or visa for “repugnant” hook-up coach – “Allen, who’s a part of the U.S. ‘dating coaching company’ Real Social Dynamics, had been touring the country, bringing his special message of how to finesse the hookup world (he claims his specialty is negotiating threesomes), when it became apparent he was not entirely welcome. An online petition to have him deported garnered 67,000 signatures.” (CN: rape and other grossness associated with PUAs.)
  • “Abortion Is Not a Decision We Regret” – “Few women who have abortions tell their stories publicly. Janie Schulman told hers to the Supreme Court. Schulman, a partner at Morrison and Foerster, shared her experience in a recent amicus brief filed on behalf of 113 attorneys who had abortions. The brief, which features Schulman’s name on the first page, is an attempt to prove to the court that Texas’ draconian antiabortion laws violate the Constitution. It details the many ways that abortions have helped women escape poverty and abuse, then rise to the heights of the legal profession.”

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Mary Brock is a scientist who works on drugs you've hopefully never heard of. She enjoys cooking to Blue Grass music, messing with her cats, and hosting the Boston Skeptics' Book Club. She was born in the South but loves living in New England (despite the lack of chocolate chip pizza). Mary does not use Twitter and don't even try to follow her, because she is always looking over her shoulder.

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  1. January 20, 2016 at 10:42 am —

    My ADHD was easy to diagnose because I had the hyperactivity in spades. But I also suffer from the common female symptoms in jacks and diamonds.

    I can certainly attest to the damaging effects of inattention, inability to follow instructions, and disorganization. My inveterate daydreaming lead to my becoming a writer, but it also meant that I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time in my head.

    Unfortunately, my mother took me off ritalin because of the side effects. I think she should’ve given it more of a chance. I tolerated it well when I took long-acting ritalin as an adult.

    Even though I was fortunate to know why I behaved the way I did because of the diagnosis, I didn’t get the help I needed anyway.

    • January 20, 2016 at 12:12 pm —

      Jon Brewer,

      I heard about that. We could end up with the first president of the United States who is a officially not allowed to enter the United Kingdom.

    • January 20, 2016 at 8:38 pm —

      Sadly not. No vote was taken and even if it had the PM would have had the final say and he was against the ban.

      Good stunt though and point well made I think.

  2. January 20, 2016 at 12:10 pm —


    I’m kind surprised that they don’t normally train physicians on something like a realistic human model, since humans and animals are so different. A pig’s body is not the same as a humans, and although for the most people we share the same organs with other mammals, I wouldn’t expect them to be in the exact same place all the time.

    • January 21, 2016 at 1:54 am —

      I think this is mainly an issue in the developing world. In first world countries, animals may be used in specific cases (e.g. training in suturing), or because a live organism is necessary, but medical schools will also have plenty of human cadavers used for training. You’re not going to become a doctor without having been elbow deep in a human body.

  3. January 20, 2016 at 12:36 pm —

    Another woman who has been diagnosed with ADD recently. (I won’t call it ADHD, as I don’t have H.) I finally just had to look it up on the internet and diagnose myself, write down all my symptoms and explain it to my doctor, who thankfully sees me as a person and listens to me.

    I have exactly what the article explains: disorganized, inattentive, symptoms that worsened after puberty and when I was cut loose to be an adult. I already have depression and low self-esteem due to childhood abuse, although I can see that it could come from me thinking I had a personal failing.

    Fortunately, therapy and medication has helped. But yeah, imagine if they could have helped me 20 years ago, at 15. It was really messed up for me to have to deal with that all by myself. I thought I was going crazy.

    Also, please note the lead article. This is absolutely true and a huge problem that isn’t being addressed. Lead contamination is associated with higher levels of ADD. This lead is still affecting us today and it needs to be cleaned up, or we are going to continue to damage every generation.

    • January 20, 2016 at 3:52 pm —

      As I said, I do have the H. But even though I was lucky enough to receive the diagnosis, I still didn’t receive the proper help. Even if my mother didn’t think I could handle the side effects, she could’ve sought counselling for me.

  4. January 21, 2016 at 3:10 pm —

    Regarding lead contamination in the environment: have a look at this link and see what you think.


    The hypothesis is that violent crime rates mirror lead levels after a 20 year delay.

    I know that our mantra is “correlation is not causation” , but in this case the curves are the exact same shape and are reproducible in many major cities in the USA. I find this awfully persuasive.

    Moreover, he same thing is found here in Australia where we have some of the biggest lead mines in the world.

  5. January 21, 2016 at 3:21 pm —

    Also, that Governor or whatever he is who deliberately allowed pumping of grossly polluted water in Flint just to save a few lousy bucks should be prosecuted.

    He reminds me of the guy in China who was executed for putting melamine in milk powder.

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