News and Views

Here's a study we thoroughly approve of, peer reviews be damned: Retail therapy can do the mind good, especially when it comes to calming fears of your impending death. 

In a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Consumer Affairs, researchers analyzed two types of participants: those who described themselves as 'anti-consumers' and 'over-consumers.' Those generally opposed to overspending and over-consumption fell into the anti-consumers group, while over-consumers fell into the opposite category. 

So how exactly did they figure it out? First, the participants took a series of tests designed to measure their materialism or frugality. Researchers asked the participants how they felt...

As players adapt this season to the National Hockey League's updated concussion protocol, several who have taken hits to the head during games received on-the-spot medical evaluations. But as to whether the safety guidelines are having their intended effect, to answer that question many onlookers are scrutinizing an incident involving Connor McDavid on Dec. 4 

The reason is that the "injury," which required his removal from the game at a crucial moment, could have been interpreted in different ways. As such the situation has invited observers to more closely examine how the protocol works (as well as the ways that it may not), and to offer suggestions to improve it. 

As detailed in ...

Concussions in hockey

When it comes to concussion prevention, and the ways to reduce brain trauma in professional sports, for years now the spotlight has steadily shone on the National Football League and the efforts it has made. And it's been thrust onto center stage for good reason.

First, the sport is relentless, inherently brutal and violent, and so many high-impact areas of the game need to be addressed. Second, it's the most popular sport in America, so naturally what executives are doing to address concussion mitigation is being very closely watched. And the league, while it has its many critics, is making progress by instituting rule changes and strengthening medical safeguards.

But there's another sport that's also putting effective measures in place, and since it operates in the NFL'...

New genetic technology can either come to fruition and have a positive impact on our lives or be driven into the ground. The difference depends on whether the people making decisions understand the science and can accurately and properly weigh the risks and benefits.

In order for that to happen, scientists have to participate in open discourse, as education and communication are the keys to moving science forward to a place where changes can evolve to positively impact our health and the environment.

One the best examples of this goes back to 1953 when Dr. Jonas Salk announced during a national radio show that the vaccine against poliomyelitis had been tested and worked, sparking one of the largest and most important public health campaigns that our country has ever...

A high-profile paper published in Science earlier this year is in jeopardy because of events that started out as a the simple theft of a laptop, but may end up being a big enough transgression to have it erased from the scientific literature. 

The paper, entitled "Environmentally relevant concentrations of microplastic particles influence larval fish ecology," suggests that larval fish (perch, specifically) prefer to eat microplastic particles (pieces of plastic that are < 5mm in size) over their natural food source. Not only that, but, when fish eat the plastic particles, they exhibit abnormal behavior and...

Staying fit by playing tennis

A recent health story is currently making the rounds proclaiming that some forms of exercise, as well as participation in three particular racquet sports, are better than others for your overall health and will help you live longer.

These online articles invariably attract our attention. Why? Because they carry headlines that provide the simple solution that everyone craves: the way to better fitness, and finally, a clear, unambiguous and athletic path to a long, healthy life.

Sure, these stories do contain some worthwhile information on how to improve one's fitness. But unfortunately, they are the very definition of health hype.

That's because placing emphasis on specific activities is overblown, and the study these stories are based on has a range of...

Watching the jaw drop or tug-of-war facial reaction battle of another person when they discover my educational and career endeavors is so uniformly commonplace that I would be hard pressed to come up with a day let alone a week where such an occurrence didn’t take place.

Apparently, I don’t look like a doctor.

Earlier today the waiter at lunch was first speechless then over-complimenting once it sunk in how dramatic his response was to the news that not only was I one, but I was not fresh in or out of training and had dabbled in the possibility of brain surgery as my chosen vocation.

Typecasting by others or the insistence on attempting to place me in a box is the story of my life.  I always joke I am like Rodney Dangerfield, “I just get no respect.”  Though...

Junk science

Junk science is everywhere. Just today, it was reported that President-Elect Donald Trump had a meeting with the anti-vaccine fraud Andrew Wakefield, who claimed that Mr Trump is "open-minded" about the issue. 

This is why our mission is so important. People in power often have a poor grasp of science. If journalists and advocates don't speak up for good science, cranks and quacks will take over. 

As part of our ongoing effort to eradicate pseudoscience, here is a list of the top 16 junk science stories we debunked in 2016.

#16. Olympic athletes should not be cupping. Remember seeing those...

Anyone who has suffered from migraines is aware of the limitation of the treatment options out there. With the exception of prescription medications that go a step beyond the old standby of an Excedrin with a cup of coffee - help is limited.

So, it's easy to understand why people reach for measures that they think may be helpful, like chiropractic, even without any evidence to support it. However, a recent study published in the European Journal of Neurology shows that, for migraines, chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy (CSMT) is no better than a placebo. 

The study, conducted over a three month treatment period followed by a 12 month follow up, included 104 people who suffer from...

As a scientist, I frequently get asked questions about topics that people bump into in their everyday lives.

  • WIll the flu shot give me the flu? (no)
  • Should I buy a crib bumper? (no)
  • Are you worried about GMOs? (absolutely not)

In a conversation recently with someone who had recently been on safari, the topic was the tsetse fly. This person had been told to not wear dark (blue or black, specifically) clothing because he was told that the tsetse was drawn to dark colors. In fact - this is such a widely accepted piece of information that, on the cdc website, the second tip for avoiding tsetse fly bites is 

"Wear neutral-colored clothing. The tsetse fly is attracted to bright colors, very dark colors, metallic fabric, and the color blue...