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  • May 5, 2014
  • 09:01 PM

Isn't it a Pitty? USA & UK shelter worker differences in Pit Bull identification

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Hi Julie and Mia, Guess what? We have something in common! Do You Believe in Dog? started as a result of you two meeting at a conference, and my latest publication also resulted from a conference-inspired, long-distance collaboration. Dr. Carri Westgarth and I met at the International Society for Anthrozoology meeting in England in 2012. We quickly realized we share both personal and professional interests in dogs. During one of our chats, I showed Carri pictures of dogs I’d worked with in a US shelter. As I flipped through the pictures, I noted out loud that many were pit bulls, and Carri responded, “We wouldn’t call most of those dogs pit bulls here in the UK.” Flickr/denial_landThis conversation motivated us to conduct a study investigating differences between which dogs shelter workers in the US and UK consider pit bulls. Following the conference, Carri and I collected pictures of shelter dogs and designed a survey to learn more about shelters’ intake policies and assess how shelter workers determine breed identity. We wanted survey participants to look at pictures of shelter dogs and then tell us what breed they thought the dog was and which characteristics led them to their conclusion. Then, we had participants go through the pictures a second time and tell us whether or not they felt each dog was a pit bull. One of the hardest parts of this project was narrowing down the pictures to just 20. We would have loved to have included more but didn’t want to make our survey so long that people became frustrated and quit before finishing. Our final set of pictures included 11 bull breeds. Twelve of the dogs were from the US, and the remaining 8 were from the UK.Some of the dogs used in our survey (excerpt from publication)We launched the survey at the end of 2012 and recruited participants via social media and an e-mail campaign directed at shelters. We ended up with responses from 416 US participants and 54 UK participants.Eleven percent of US participants reported working in shelters that are impacted by Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). Although all UK shelters are impacted by BSL due to the Dangerous Dog Act, the survey results indicated that not all UK shelter workers were aware of this. That surprised us!Flickr/hand-nor-gloveWe were even more surprised by participants’ thoughts regarding which dogs were pit bulls. Over half of US participants considered 7 of the 20 dogs to be pit bulls, whereas over half of UK participants considered only 1 of the dogs to be a pit bull. Furthermore, US participants were significantly more likely than UK participants to consider 12 of the dogs to be pit bulls.Flickr/actionkat13When we provided participants with a list of 10 bull breed and Mastiff breed names and asked if they considered any of these breeds to be pit bulls, US participants were more likely than UK participants to say that 6 of the breeds were. The biggest discrepancy between US and UK participants’ responses was regarding the Staffordshire bull terrier. Two percent of UK participants considered this breed to be a pit bull, whereas 69% of US participants did!Carri and I were astonished by how much UK and US shelter workers’ perceptions of what a pit bull looks like differed. We also were surprised by how much disagreement there was amongst shelter workers within our respective countries. We thought about how many times we have seen news reports that identify aggressive dogs as "pit bulls" and how infrequently pictures of the impounded dogs accompany these articles. It made us wonder how much of the pit bull’s reputation is affected by dogs being identified as pit bulls in one location, even though they may not be considered pit bulls elsewhere.We tried to figure out why there is so much disagreement regarding what a pit bull dog is and concluded it may in part be because the American Kennel Club and the UK’s Kennel Club do not have breed standards for the pit bull or American pit bull terrier (although the United Kennel Club does!). According to the UK’s Dangerous Dog Act, a pit bull dog is one that meets the physical features described for pit bulls in a 1977 issue of the American periodical Pit Bull Gazette. American pit bull terriers and American Staffordshire terriers fall under the UK’s definition of a pit bull. Notably, Staffordshire bull terriers are not classified as pit bull dogs in the UK, although as our results showed, they tend to be considered pit bulls in the US.... Read more »

  • May 3, 2014
  • 05:04 PM

Novel Coronavirus in dromedaries: not related to MERS-CoV so why bother?

by thelonevirologist in Virology Tidbits

Following the appearance of a novel respiratory disease in 2003 and the subsequent identification of (then novel) Coronavirus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS-CoV, a renewed interest in these viruses lead to the discovery of several new Coronaviruses, including MERS-CoV and DcCOV-UAE HKU 23.... Read more »

Woo PC, Lau SK, Wernery U, Wong EY, Tsang AK, Johnson B, Yip CC, Lau CC, Sivakumar S, Cai JP.... (2014) Novel betacoronavirus in dromedaries of the middle East, 2013. Emerging infectious diseases, 20(4), 560-72. PMID: 24655427  

Zaki AM, van Boheemen S, Bestebroer TM, Osterhaus AD, & Fouchier RA. (2012) Isolation of a novel coronavirus from a man with pneumonia in Saudi Arabia. The New England journal of medicine, 367(19), 1814-20. PMID: 23075143  

Reusken CB, Haagmans BL, Müller MA, Gutierrez C, Godeke GJ, Meyer B, Muth D, Raj VS, Smits-De Vries L, Corman VM.... (2013) Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus neutralising serum antibodies in dromedary camels: a comparative serological study. The Lancet infectious diseases, 13(10), 859-66. PMID: 23933067  

Spaan, W., Cavanagh, D., & Horzinek, M. (1988) Coronaviruses: Structure and Genome Expression. Journal of General Virology, 69(12), 2939-2952. DOI: 10.1099/0022-1317-69-12-2939  

Ren W, Li W, Yu M, Hao P, Zhang Y, Zhou P, Zhang S, Zhao G, Zhong Y, Wang S.... (2006) Full-length genome sequences of two SARS-like coronaviruses in horseshoe bats and genetic variation analysis. The Journal of general virology, 87(Pt 11), 3355-9. PMID: 17030870  

Hall RJ, Wang J, Peacey M, Moore NE, McInnes K, & Tompkins DM. (2014) New Alphacoronavirus in Mystacina tuberculata Bats, New Zealand. Emerging infectious diseases, 20(4). PMID: 24656060  

  • May 2, 2014
  • 05:57 PM

Predicting Suicide: A Statistical Scandal

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A shocking piece of statistics has been uncovered in a paper published in a respectable psychiatry journal. The offending article, Electrodermal hyporeactivity as a trait marker for suicidal propensity in uni- and bipolar depression, appeared in 2013 in the Journal of Psychiatry Research. It examined whether an ‘electrodermal hyporeactivity’ test – based on measuring the […]The post Predicting Suicide: A Statistical Scandal appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • April 30, 2014
  • 12:00 PM

How a Mother’s Diet Shapes a Child

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Peanut butter and pickles, yummy… well maybe if you are pregnant, speaking of which, [see how that works?] researchers from the MRC International Nutrition Group, based at the London School of […]... Read more »

Dominguez-Salas Paula, Moore Sophie E., Baker Maria S., Bergen Andrew W., Cox Sharon E., Dyer Roger A., Fulford Anthony J., Guan Yongtao, Laritsky Eleonora, & Silver Matt J. (2014) Maternal nutrition at conception modulates DNA methylation of human metastable epialleles. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4746  

  • April 30, 2014
  • 11:45 AM

Racialized Medicine: Prophecies for Profit

by Alexis Delanoir in How to Paint Your Panda

Over the topic of race as a valid biological category for humans, many people cite between-group differences in responses to medication as evidence for this validity. If race is only a social construct, why do blacks and whites respond differently to different medications? In examining this case, one will find that race is actually a terrible representation of real variation, and that between-group differences are better explained via individual examination.... Read more »

  • April 30, 2014
  • 06:42 AM

Is it true that your eyeballs stay the same size from birth?

by Stuart Farrimond in Guru: Science Blog

Aww, look at those big blue eyes – aren’t they adorable? There’s no denying that a baby’s eyes are one reason why we find them so cute. And, let’s face it, with all the crying and pooping, they need something to help […]The post Is it true that your eyeballs stay the same size from birth? appeared first on Guru Magazine.... Read more »


  • April 29, 2014
  • 01:08 PM

Silicon Brains: Not as Cuddly as the Real Thing.

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Are you real? What is ‘real’, more of a philosophy question than a scientific one, but what if a computer worked like your brain? What if, one day the line […]... Read more »

Benjamin Ben Varkey, Gao Peiran, McQuinn Emmett, Choudhary Swadesh, Chandrasekaran Anand R., Bussat Jean-Marie, Alvarez-Icaza Rodrigo, Arthur John V., Merolla Paul A., & Boahen Kwabena. (2014) Neurogrid: A Mixed-Analog-Digital Multichip System for Large-Scale Neural Simulations. Proceedings of the IEEE, 102(5), 699-716. DOI: 10.1109/JPROC.2014.2313565  

  • April 28, 2014
  • 04:22 PM

Bugging city communities with impunity: this is the Staph of legend

by Kausik Datta in In Scientio Veritas

Whether we know it or not, the human skin is a veritable garden of micro-organisms. The outermost layer (‘epidermis’) of the skin, the shafts of hair follicles, as well as the soft surface inside the nose (‘nasal mucosa’), making up for approximately 1.8 square meter of surfaces, is home to about 1000 species of bacteria among other things. Most of these don’t ordinarily cause disease; some are there for the ride, and some even offer benefits by warding off other... Read more... Read more »

  • April 28, 2014
  • 04:00 AM

From Stone Darts to Dismembered Bodies, New Study Reveals 5,000 Years of Violence in Central California

by Blake de Pastino in Western Digs

From shooting their enemies with darts and arrows to crushing their skulls and even harvesting body parts as trophies, the ancient foragers of central California engaged in sporadic, and sometimes severe, violence, according to a new archaeological study spanning 5,000 years.... Read more »

Schwitalla, A., Jones, T., Pilloud, M., Codding, B., & Wiberg, R. (2014) Violence among foragers: The bioarchaeological record from central California. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 66-83. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaa.2013.11.004  

  • April 24, 2014
  • 04:39 PM

Cap and Trade Scientific False Positives?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

In a letter to Nature, University of Miami psychologists Michael McCullough and David Kelly propose A trading scheme to reduce false results. Neuroskeptic readers will know that concern over false-positive science is growing. Many solutions have been proposed, but McCullough and Kelly’s is quite novel: Cap-and-trade systems have proved useful in cutting pollutants such as […]The post Cap and Trade Scientific False Positives? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • April 22, 2014
  • 06:04 PM

SARS-CoV v. MERS-CoV: differences and similarities, what do we know?

by thelonevirologist in Virology Tidbits

Coronaviruses are important animal and human pathogens and are the causative agent of 30-40% community acquired upper respiratory tract infections, most of them mild diseases. Besides relatively benign infections, the infection of infants and children has been implicated in some cases to acute asthmatic attacks and the onset of croup (whizzing cough). With the identification of SARS-CoV in 2003 became associated with more severe pulmonary disease particularly in immunocompromised individuals. To understand the pathogenesis, it is vital to compare various aspects of the disease, including but not limited to the receptor distribution, viral entry and affected organs as well the interference with antiviral signaling.... Read more »

Barlan A, Zhao J, Sarkar MK, Li K, McCray PB Jr, Perlman S, & Gallagher T. (2014) Receptor variation and susceptibility to middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection. Journal of virology, 88(9), 4953-61. PMID: 24554656  

Raj, V., Mou, H., Smits, S., Dekkers, D., Müller, M., Dijkman, R., Muth, D., Demmers, J., Zaki, A., Fouchier, R.... (2013) Dipeptidyl peptidase 4 is a functional receptor for the emerging human coronavirus-EMC. Nature, 495(7440), 251-254. DOI: 10.1038/nature12005  

Chu KH, Tsang WK, Tang CS, Lam MF, Lai FM, To KF, Fung KS, Tang HL, Yan WW, Chan HW.... (2005) Acute renal impairment in coronavirus-associated severe acute respiratory syndrome. Kidney international, 67(2), 698-705. PMID: 15673319  

Roper, R., & Rehm, K. (2009) SARS vaccines: where are we?. Expert Review of Vaccines, 8(7), 887-898. DOI: 10.1586/erv.09.43  

Payne DC, Iblan I, Alqasrawi S, Al Nsour M, Rha B, Tohme RA, Abedi GR, Farag NH, Haddadin A, Al Sanhouri T.... (2014) Stillbirth During Infection With Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. The Journal of infectious diseases. PMID: 24474813  

Drosten, C. (2013) Is MERS another SARS?. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 13(9), 727-728. DOI: 10.1016/S1473-3099(13)70159-2  

  • April 21, 2014
  • 07:18 AM

What makes music groovy?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Last week PLOS ONE published an interesting study on rhythm, groove and syncopation that uses an often criticized methodology: questionnaire and web-based research...... Read more »

Witek, M., Clarke, E., Wallentin, M., Kringelbach, M., & Vuust, P. (2014) Syncopation, Body-Movement and Pleasure in Groove Music. PLoS ONE, 9(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094446  

Honing, H., & Reips, U.-D. (2008) Web-based versus lab-based studies: a response to Kendall (2008). Empirical Musicology Review, 3(2), 73-77. info:/

  • April 20, 2014
  • 03:34 PM

420: How Marijuana Messes With the Brain

by Alexis Delanoir in How to Paint Your Panda

Cannabis use has previously been associated with cognitive impairment, and Smith et al. (2013) showed that heavy marijuana use was associated with poor working memory and brain abnormalities. Now, Gilman et al. (2014) propose that even casual use of marijuana is associated with such negative effects. Is this an issue of correlation/causation, of funding bias, or are the world's weed smokers really in neurological danger? In this post, in celebration of 4/20, I provide context for the recent study associating casual marijuana use with brain abnormalities and pose these questions.... Read more »

Meier, M., Caspi, A., Ambler, A., Harrington, H., Houts, R., Keefe, R., McDonald, K., Ward, A., Poulton, R., & Moffitt, T. (2012) Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(40). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1206820109  

  • April 19, 2014
  • 02:19 PM

Introduction to Traditional Peer Review

by Hadas Shema in Information Culture

Peer review was introduced to scholarly publication in 1731 by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, which published a collection of peer-reviewed medical articles. Despite this early start, in many...

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Biagioli, M. (2002) From Book Censorship to Academic Peer Review. Emergences: Journal for the Study of Media , 12(1), 11-45. DOI: 10.1080/1045722022000003435  

Benos DJ, Bashari E, Chaves JM, Gaggar A, Kapoor N, LaFrance M, Mans R, Mayhew D, McGowan S, Polter A.... (2007) The ups and downs of peer review. Advances in physiology education, 31(2), 145-52. PMID: 17562902  

Bornman, L. (2008) Scientific Peer Review: An Analysis of the Peer Review Process from the Perspective of Sociology of Science Theories. Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge, 6(2). info:/

Brown, R. (2006) Double Anonymity and the Peer Review Process. The Scientific World JOURNAL, 1274-1277. DOI: 10.1100/tsw.2006.228  

Callaham ML, Baxt WG, Waeckerle JF, & Wears RL. (1998) Reliability of editors' subjective quality ratings of peer reviews of manuscripts. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association, 280(3), 229-31. PMID: 9676664  

Spier R. (2002) The history of the peer-review process. Trends in biotechnology, 20(8), 357-8. PMID: 12127284  

  • April 18, 2014
  • 01:56 PM

Moving Beyond “Just-So Stories”: Young Children Can Be Taught Basic Natural Selection

by amikulak in Daily Observations

Spend more than a few hours with a child under the age of 10 and “why?” is a question you’re likely to hear a. Children are naturally curious explorers, and […]... Read more »

  • April 17, 2014
  • 12:34 PM

What makes music groovy?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Today PLOS ONE publishes a study that uses an often criticized research method: questionnaire and web-based research (cf. Honing & Ladinig, 2008). This study, however, is a good example of how an unspectacular method (i.e. compared to, e.g., controlled experiments, brain imaging techniques or computational modelling) can still be quite informative....... Read more »

Witek, M., Clarke, E., Wallentin, M., Kringelbach, M., & Vuust, P. (2014) Syncopation, Body-Movement and Pleasure in Groove Music. PLoS ONE, 9(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094446  

Honing, H., & Reips, U.-D. (2008) Web-based versus lab-based studies: a response to Kendall (2008). Empirical Musicology Review, 3(2), 73-77. info:/

  • April 16, 2014
  • 08:29 PM

What makes music groovy?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Today PLOS ONE publishes a study that uses an often criticized research method: questionnaire and web-based research (cf. Honing & Ladinig, 2008). This study, however, is a good example of how an unspectacular method (i.e. compared to, e.g., controlled experiments, brain imaging techniques or computational modelling) can still be quite informative.... Read more »

Witek, M., Clarke, E., Wallentin, M., Kringelbach, M., & Vuust, P. (2014) Syncopation, Body-Movement and Pleasure in Groove Music. PLoS ONE, 9(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094446  

Honing, H., & Reips, U.-D. (2008) Web-based versus lab-based studies: a response to Kendall (2008). Empirical Musicology Review, 3(2), 73-77. info:/

  • April 15, 2014
  • 11:59 PM

OYM 30: The Irreproducible Joe Rochford

by On Your Mind in On Your Mind

This week on the On Your Mind Neuroscience podcast we’re excited to share our microphones with Dr. Joe Rochford.  He’s the Associate Director (or as he prefers Ass. Director) of the Neuroscience program at McGill and the Director of Academic Affairs at the Douglas Hospital Research Center and he’s sharing his thoughts on the importance more
The post OYM 30: The Irreproducible Joe Rochford appeared first on On Your Mind Podcast.
... Read more »

Collins FS, & Tabak LA. (2014) Policy: NIH plans to enhance reproducibility. Nature, 505(7485), 612-3. PMID: 24482835  

  • April 15, 2014
  • 08:00 PM

New Study Shows Surgical Checklists In Operating Rooms Are Less Effective Than Assumed

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Optimizing such tailored checklists, understanding why some studies indicate benefits of checklists whereas others do not and re-evaluating the efficacy of checklists in the non-academic setting will all require a substantial amount of future research before one can draw definitive conclusions about the efficacy of checklists. Regulatory agencies in Canada and the United Kingdom should reconsider their current mandates. Perhaps an even more important lesson to be learned is that health regulatory agencies should not rush to enforce new mandates based on limited scientific data.... Read more »

Urbach DR, Govindarajan A, Saskin R, Wilton AS, & Baxter NN. (2014) Introduction of surgical safety checklists in Ontario, Canada. The New England Journal of Medicine, 370(11), 1029-38. PMID: 24620866  

  • April 14, 2014
  • 04:00 AM

Sacrificial and Common Graves Alike Reveal Diversity in Ancient City of Cahokia

by Blake de Pastino in Western Digs

Whether they died from natural causes or as sacrificial offerings, the residents of America’s largest prehistoric city were surprisingly diverse, with at least a third of the population having come from communities up to hundreds of kilometers away, according to new research of the settlement’s ancient graves.... Read more »

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