Quickies

Quickies: Does Tylenol Work?, Does Smiling Still Make People Happy?, and What Is This Chef Hiding?

  • Should you take Tylenol, Advil, or aspirin for pain? Here’s what the evidence says. – “So I was surprised when I found out there’s a huge gap between how pain researchers think about this drug and how the public does. More specifically, every researcher I contacted for this piece said some variation of what Andrew Moore, a pain researcher at Oxford University, told me: Tylenol doesn’t actually work that well for pain. To be more exact, ‘I can’t imagine why anybody would take acetaminophen,’ he said.”
  • Sad Face – (This article goes into recent research providing evidence against the “smiling makes you happy” hypothesis.) “Then on March 21, Fritz Strack, the psychologist in Wurzburg, sent a message to the guys. ‘Don’t get me wrong,’ he wrote, ‘but I am not a particularly religious person and I am always disturbed if people are divided into “believers” and “nonbelievers.” ‘ In science, he added, ‘the quality of arguments and their empirical examination should be the basis of discourse.’ So if the skeptics wanted something to examine—a test case to stand in for all of social-psych research—then let them try his work.”
  • The Most Exclusive Restaurant in America – This is an excellent piece about a talented chef and the lengths he goes through to build up a mythology around his food. And most people just take what he says at face value, except for this reporter who actually checks out his claims. It’s a long one but worth it–stick through to the end!
  • The 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick stands up to racial injustice by sitting during the national anthem – ” ‘I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,’ Kaepernick told the NFL after the game. ‘To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.’ “
  • Why aren’t the presidential candidates being asked about science? – “Flash forward eight years to Democratic and Republican debates that were each held within a week of 195 countries signing the Paris climate accords: Not a single journalist in either debate asked the candidates about climate change.”
  • Our National Love Affair With ‘Pokemon Go’ Might Be Short-Lived – “Fewer people are playing the game than after its release in the heady days of early July, when it seemed like all we could talk about was people finding corpses just as often as they found a Snorlax. That may be because the game can be somewhat tedious after the initial thrill; or because its creators tweaked the way to find nearby pokemon, and in doing so miffed some users; or because certain apps that make the game easier are now banned.”

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Mary

Mary

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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8 Comments

  1. August 29, 2016 at 4:04 pm —

    If I paid $5 for an appetizer and it looked like that crap I’d never come back, how the hell does someone convince people that $65 to $300 dollars per person is appropriate for what looks to be greasy pepperoni and a few hunks of cheese that have set out too long?

    Am I missing some sort of joke? Is it like performance art? Or are people so fooled by marketing that they will swallow anything (pun intended) if it is pretentious enough?

    Is this like hipsters flocking to bespoke trendy spots to drop $45 on mac ‘n’ cheese, PB and Js, and cereal by the bowlful only writ large?

    I must say, I don’t get it.

    • August 29, 2016 at 4:25 pm —

      Charge enough, and people will assume you have a good reason for it.

  2. August 29, 2016 at 5:10 pm —

    Tylenol actually makes my head burn for some reason. So I avoid acetaminophen as a result.

    Pokémon Go also has the problem of Niantic rejiggering the game mechanics so it takes more pokéballs to capture one mon. More pokéballs means more of players’ favorite word in the whole world, microtransactions. And you need to capture more of them just to get more candy to evolve your pokémon. And while you can cheat with Eevee (Use the name of an Eevee trainer from the episode “The Battling Eevee Brothers”, Rainer, Sparky, or Pyro, as the name of your Eevee to get the one you want.) it only works once.

  3. August 29, 2016 at 5:11 pm —

    In other news, we’ve got a new pipeline. Dakota Access Pipeline. If the idea of the Standing Rock Sioux being banned from certain parts of the Standing Rock reservation by federal order makes no sense to you, welcome to Indian law. It’s all based on the Church doctrine of terra nullius, which (interestingly enough) does not apply to Antarctica or uninhabited planetoids like the moon.

  4. September 2, 2016 at 5:18 am —

    The grand irony of analgesics is that we actually have a gold standard that works 100% of the time (opiates), but society has decided it is usually preferable for people to suffer and/or poison themselves with ineffective OTC meds rather than risk any possibility that someone might use them for fun.

    I have never seen any numbers as to whether countries that have OTC codeine (Canada, UK, and probably others) have higher opiate abuse rates than the US, but I’d wager they don’t and they just get to use real medicine for everyday aches and pains.

    • September 2, 2016 at 5:21 pm —

      You are glossing over the fact that opiate addiction is a real problem and that more deaths per annum occur from legal than illegal drugs.

      However I would be the first to agree that the War On Drugs is not the answer. These are primarily medical and not legal problems and perhaps novel approaches such as making naloxone more readily available could be effective.

      • September 5, 2016 at 8:40 am —

        While physical tolerance is a problem, opiate withdrawal, while profoundly unpleasant, is almost never fatal (as alcohol and benzo withdrawal can frequently be). The vast majority of pharmaceutical overdose deaths come from multi-drug use (which is primarily an oversight issue). Many of the problems with black market and illegal use also stem from unavailability and expense: opiates cost almost nothing to produce, but the black market makes them expensive so many people begin injecting purely to save money. Most accidental overdoses occur because of supply chain inconsistencies (due to variations in potency or simply after an interruption that reduces tolerance). I think if we could all buy cheap laudanum in the drug store as we could pre-1914 we’d see a lot of these problems diminished.

        • September 5, 2016 at 4:34 pm —

          19th century laissez faire? Good luck with that. You would need some pretty overwhelming evidence based figures to pull that off, Even then it would be politically courageous.

          Look, drug interactions are exactly why some mild regulation and professional advice is necessary. What possible objection is there to consulting your local GP? I thought Canada had a health care system second to none.

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