Blog Profile / Neuron Culture


URL :http://daviddobbs.net/smoothpebbles/
Filed Under:Academics / General Science
Posts on Regator:251
Posts / Week:1
Archived Since:July 11, 2011

Blog Post Archive

Two Sharp Takes on Mukherjee’s The Gene

Nathaniel Comfort, “Genes Are Overrated”: Mukherjee gives us a Whig history of the gene, told with verve and color, if not scrupulous accuracy. The gene, he tells us, was first described by the Augustinian friar Gregor Mendel, in the mid-19th century. Tragically, no one noticed—not even the great Charles Darwin. “If Darwin had actually read” the reference […]

There are rants and there are rants. This here is a rant.

As Jezebel notes elsewhere, this bomb-throwing freelancer revenge rant burns bridges with admirable abandon. Been a while since I’ve read one quite so fun and strange. It’s a tough trick to write this, for instance: We left Paris and went to the south of France to write the piece that I had promised would be 10,000 words. […]

How Failure Is Moving Science Forward

Psychology, biomedicine and numerous other fields of science have fallen into a crisis of confidence recently, after seminal findings could not be replicated in subsequent studies. These widespread problems with reproducibility underscore a problem that I discussed here last year — namely, that science is really, really hard. Show More Summary

Brooke Borel’s strange story about Kevin Folta interviewing himself, among other (mis)adventures

  The Kevin Folta/Monsanto/Right-to-Know/COI variety show and bazaar just got more bizarre. Brilliant reporting and writing here from Brooke Borel. I love how her attention to the comedy in this situation a)  underlines the strangeness...Show More Summary

Ernest Hemingway, Clutterbug

“Like his father, he saved every totem that touched his hand.” “Hemingway was someone who felt the talismanic power of objects, of things, of the materiality of experience,” Declan Kiely, who is a young and genial Englishman with Irish roots, said when I visited “Between Two Wars.” “If something happened to him, he hung onto it.” The […]

Paxil shown unsafe for teens, drugmaker congratulates self for sharing damning data it hid for years

In 2001, a group of researchers published a study showing that Paxil, one of the first big SSRI antidepressants, was safe and effective for teens. Sales surged; over 2 million prescriptions were written for children and teens in 2002 alone. Now an independent group of researchers, having gained access to the study’s raw data and patient records, reports in BMJ […]

Roberta Payne on the art of schizophrenia

Roberta Payne, author of the superb memoir Speaking to My Madness, did the cover art on the current issue of Schizophrenia Bulletin. The issue also runs an essay she wrote about “schizophrenic art.” I once drew on poster-size paper a gracefully diagonal, writhing black eel. So far, conventional structure that any artist might have planned. But the eel’s […]

What we talk about when we talk about killing Obamacare

  We’re actually talking about killing our neighbors. Late this month the Supreme Court is expected to rule on King v Burwell, a suit financed by the conservative right that seeks to use some trivial inconsistencies in phrasing to gut Obamacare in 37 states and possibly cripple it nationwide. That SCOTUS even agreed to hear the suit is […]

The limits of genetics – my essay at Buzzfeed

A bit late to my own story here, as a reporting trip intervened, but but a couple weeks ago I wrote an essay for Buzzfeed about the overselling of medical genomics, which goes beyond hype in a way that distorts funding, science, and the public’s ideas about genetics. We live in an age of hype. […]

Robin Marantz Henig’s gorgeous story on a woman facing one death to dodge another

Robin Marantz Henig is at her superb best in “The Last Day of Her Life,” a NY Times Magazine feature about a remarkable woman, Sandy Bern, who decides she’ll end her life before she loses her self to Alzheimer’s. At one point, as Bern’s power fades, her daughter, Emily, gives birth to Bern’s first grandchild. Show More Summary

What happiness looks like – Jake Marisnick’s catch in deep center

Is anyone having more fun at anything that Jake Marisnick is having playing baseball right now? Make sure to watch after the catch for a) Marisnick’s smile as he runs back to the dugout and b) the reaction of pitcher Colin McHugh.

A rowdy, harrowing, vital book: My Times review of ‘Galileo’s Middle Finger,’ by Alice Dreger.

I’ve a review of Alice Dreger’s latest book in this week’s New York Times Sunday Book Review; it just appeared online.   “Galileo’s Middle Finger” is many things: a rant, a manifesto, a treasury of evocative new terms (sissyphobia, autogynephilia, phall-o-meter) and an account of the author’s transformation “from an activist going after establishment scientists […]

The frightening beauty of Sally Mann’s children

Sally Mann on the frightening beauty of her children, in the New York Times Magazine. I find this an especially moving reflection. That’s the critical thing about the family pictures: They were possible only because of the farm, the place. America now hardly has such a thing as privacy, at least not the kind we had at the […]

Gourevitch and Langwiesche on GermanWings crash; play war and real war; Mad Men’s dark bright side.

A Bewildering Crash. Philip Gourevitch at The New Yorker. Just as the brevity of the flight, and the apparent spontaneity of the captain’s decision to leave the cockpit—to stretch a leg? or take a piss? or have a chat? We do not know—tells us that Lubitz could not have planned before he flew that day…

How you read, Alice Munro writes, and war comes home

Here are three of the five items on today’s edition of my semi-regular “Read 2 of these and call me in the morning” mailing. The life, death, and resurrection of Alice Munro’s stories. By Alice Munro. I’m having a delicious time reading Munro’s Selected Stories, 1968–1994 (Vintage, 1997), which I picked up a couple weeks…

The 80 richest people own as much as the poorest 3.5 billion

  Hand it to the rich — no, wait, they already took it. Anyway, they get the job done. From my latest Read 2 roundup, a connection of pieces on wealth paints a dismal picture. (Unless you’re one of those 80). First, from Michael M. Phillips at The Wall Street Journal: In 2010, it would have taken…

The war on Billie Holiday; happy marriages; racist Oregon

  The War on Drugs started with Billie Holiday. – Johann Hari, POLITICO Jazz was the opposite of everything Harry Anslinger believed in. It is improvised, relaxed, free-form. It follows its own rhythm. Worst of all, it is a mongrel music made up of European, Caribbean and African echoes, all mating on American shores. To…

Alice Munro has some very bad news. Plus consciousness and Brits on the dole.

Three of thefive reads from today’s edition of my Read Two newsletter. You can get the other two here or sign up for more. Why can’t the world’s greatest minds solve the mystery of consciousness? They don’t call it the hard problem for nothing. By Oliver Burkeman at The Guardian. The brain, Chalmers began by pointing out, poses all sorts…

The gassy dead. A million-genome march. How to do science.

What to do with the dead? This timeless problem took extra urgency in Victorian London. Excerpted from the book Dirty Old London, by Lee Jackson, in the Guardian. The existence of such gases was undisputed – sextons and undertakers were often called up to “tap” coffins in church vaults, drilling a hole to prevent them…

Brian Williams might well be misremembering rather than lying

It seems incredible that someone might misremember whether they were in a chopper crash. Ford Vox, a physician who specializes in spinal and brain injuries and has treated many people with memory problems, explains how it could happen: You may wonder how its possible that Williams tricked himself into such a vivid false memory told…

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