Neuron Culture

Hits of the week past

Hits of the week:

Savage Minds (with a spiffy website redesign) asks Why is there no Anthropology Journalism?

Jerry Coyne takes sharp exception to both a paper and a SciAm Mind Matters article by Paul Andrews and Andy Thomson arguing that depression might be an evolutionary adaptation. Dr. Pangloss punches back. (NB: 1. I was founding editor of Mind Matters, but no longer edit it, did not edit the Andrews/Thomson piece, and don’t know any of these people. 2. While my recent Atlantic article presented an argument for how a gene associated with depression (the so-called SERT gene) might be adaptive, this is not the same argument, at all, that Andrews and Thomson make — though it’s compatible with theirs.)

In a splendidly wrought post titled “A ‘Severe’ Warning for Psychiatry,” Neuroskeptic shows how the expansion of the depression diagnosis — which many argue was driven by pharma’s eagerness to expand the market for antidepressants — may have led to recent findings that antidepressants appear to work mainly for the more severe cases. Irony lives (though at great expense).

A while back I came close to writing a story on how the U.S. is in danger of falling behind both the EU and China in scientific productivity. Mooney & Kirshenbaum have a nice post — and an alarming graph — showing how rapidly China is gaining.

The Atlantic examines What Makes a Great Teacher, while John Hawks gapes at how hard it can be to fire even a really bad one. We don’t figure this out, we watch China and the EU pass us sooner rather than later.


Journalism.co.uk, a site run by the City University London Grad School of Journalism, reports on the attack of the killer snails — that is, the slow-moving changes in media that are now suddenly destroying the industry, sort of. (As I noted on Twitter, this reminded me of one of my favorite jokes: A turtle is mugged by snails. Finds a cop. Cop asks What happened. Turtle says, “I’m not really sure. It all happened so fast.”)

Holy smoke post of the week: Ed Yong, Echolocation in bats and whales based on same changes to same gene

How ’bout that story of the week: Carl Zimmer looks at all the pretty dinosaur colors. He also has a nice interview with the ever-interesting primatologist Frans de Waal.

“Something smells funny” story/post of the week: Brain scan diagnoses misunderstanding of diagnosis Vaughn Bell points out the deep flaws in a paper that claims to use brain scans to diagnose PTSD. Only problem: The scans don’t discriminate between PTSD and other mental problems that might be mistaken for PTSD. A huge problem.

Book of the week: I’m 2/3 of the way through but feel safe in saying Skloot’s Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a remarkable book about a truly, wildly remarkable story.

Tweet of the week: @stevesilberman “”Surely no women were involved in naming it the iPad” – online commenter.

Runner-up: @Mark_Changizi: Orchids punch back and hard. http://bit.ly/dC09x5