Neuron Culture

Archives for March, 2008

Some great stuff I’ve come across, lack time to blog on, but would hate for you to miss: In On being certain, neurologist and novelist Robert Burton, who writes a column at Slate Salon, looks at the science of what makes us feel certain about things — even when we’re dead wrong about them. His…

Suddenly it’s salmon everywhere — or in some cases, nowhere. My story on “The Wild Salmon Debate: A Fresh Look at Whether Eating Farmed Salmon is … Well … OK,” was published a couple weeks ago in Eating Well. You can see the Eating Well web version here or download a pdf here. The story…

Did Antidepressants Depress Japan?

The Kirsch study published a few weeks ago has stirred much discussion of the placebo power of antidepressants (or is it the antidepressant power of placebos?); it’s clear that the act of taking a pill that you expect to help you often does help you. But can the availability of a pill meant for depression…

Drugs in Your Drinking Water

This one’s getting a lot of play: There are traceable levels of prescription drugs in many public water supplies. The Times includes the AP story, which is both long and good. I bumped into it first on the Wall Street Journal Health Blog: Health Blog : Big Pharma is in the Water Big Pharma is…

Why aren’t your wages going up? Maybe because you’re the one paying for the health insurance your boss is supposedly paying for. That’s the gist of a new commentary in JAMA, which I’d missed till the Health Blog at the Wall Street Journal brought it to my attention: “Who Really Pays for Health Care?,” the…

There’s been a lot of attention the last couple years to the possibility of brain-based lie detector tests — most of it premature. That coverage, I see now, has overlooked (as did I!) a 2005 study that showed compulsive liars are wired differently — in an unexpected way — than the rest of us. NPR’s…

With so much written here lately about placebos and drug effectiveness, I would not want to leave out this remarkable study: Placebo effect is stronger, apparently, if you pay more for the placebo. This is a fascinating study described in a letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association. A crudely shortened version: Some…

A quick heads-up: Nature weighs in on the flap over the Kirsch SSRI study that found antidepressants no more effective than placebo. I’ve given a lot of attention to the placebo issue. Nature stresses another point: That the Kirsch study underscores the need for clinical trial data to be public. At present it is not,…

Nicholson Baker on Wikipedia

Now here’s a match-up: the fine-grained, highly particularized, unpredictable, and insatiably curious mind of Nicholson Baker and the many-grained field of knowledge expressed in Wikipedia. In a great reading pleasure, Baker reviews John Broughton’s Wikipedia: The Missing Manual in the current issue of the New York Review of Books: Wikipedia is just an incredible thing.…