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  • October 24, 2011
  • 12:59 PM
  • 541 views

Three Myths About Power

by Psych Your Mind in Psych Your Mind



Does Power Corrupt? source

The reign of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi came to an end last week at the hands of a combination of rebel and UN forces. Qaddafi-- at least according to the American news media and some of his own people--was widely considered a tyrannical ruler who stifled free expression and democracy during his 40 years of rule. Whenever I think of men like Qaddafi, the social psychologist in me can't help but think that the situation has created the tyrant we now know-- that there is something about power that changes people, and transforms them into ruthless and oppressive individuals.

This explanation fits our narrative about power nicely, but it actually doesn't hold up well to empirical investigation. In today's blog I discuss three myths about power. We come to believe these myths based on anecdotal evidence, even though they don't seem to hold up to empirical investigation.

Read More->... Read more »

Chen, S., Lee-Chai, A., & Bargh, J. (2001) Relationship orientation as a moderator of the effects of social power. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80(2), 173-187. DOI: 10.1037//0022-3514.80.2.173  

  • October 24, 2011
  • 03:51 AM
  • 877 views

When is it right to Smack a Child?

by Stuart Farrimond in Dr Stu's Science Blog

“Spare the rod and spoil the child” Last week I received an odd request from a local radio station. They phoned to ask if I would take part in an on-air discussion about parenting issues – I was more than a little bemused. Having no experience of parenting (babysitting doesn’t count) – I felt ill … Continue reading »... Read more »

  • October 24, 2011
  • 01:42 AM
  • 1,325 views

Why are doctors more accurate with difficult cases?

by Dr Shock in Dr Shock MD PhD

Buffer Because with difficult cases doctors tend to use refelective reasoning for diagnostic decisions. Reflective reasoning is effortful, conscious analysis of features exhibited by a case. When engaged in reflection for solving a case, physicians tend to more carefully consider case findings, search for alternative diagnoses, and examine their own thinking. A recent study indicated [...]


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Mamede S, Schmidt HG, Rikers RM, Penaforte JC, & Coelho-Filho JM. (2008) Influence of perceived difficulty of cases on physicians' diagnostic reasoning. Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 83(12), 1210-6. PMID: 19202502  

  • October 18, 2011
  • 10:45 AM
  • 883 views

Evidence Based Point of Care Summaries [2] More Uptodate with Dynamed.

by Laika in Laika's Medliblog

This post is part of a short series about Evidence Based Point of Care Summaries or POCs. In this series I will review 3 recent papers that objectively compare a selection of POCs. In the previous post I reviewed a paper from Rita Banzi and colleagues from the Italian Cochrane Centre [1]. They analyzed 18 POCs with respect to their [...]... Read more »

  • October 17, 2011
  • 01:59 AM
  • 925 views

Explaining Diagnostic Errors

by Dr Shock in Dr Shock MD PhD

Buffer One possible mechanism for diagnostic errors made by physicians is the availability bias. Clinical reasoning is one of the most important achievements after med school. Flaws in clinical reasoning can result in diagnostic errors and medical mistakes. Availability bias is the doctor who diagnoses a certain disease more often since it comes to mind [...]


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Mamede, S., van Gog, T., van den Berge, K., Rikers, R., van Saase, J., van Guldener, C., & Schmidt, H. (2010) Effect of Availability Bias and Reflective Reasoning on Diagnostic Accuracy Among Internal Medicine Residents. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 304(11), 1198-1203. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2010.1276  

  • October 16, 2011
  • 05:00 PM
  • 887 views

World Food Day / Blog Action Day

by Matthew Garcia in Hydro-Logic

Today is World Food Day, as designated by the United Nations on the anniversary of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization in 1945, and as such is this year's Blog Action Day on the topic of food...... Read more »

  • October 14, 2011
  • 05:47 AM
  • 781 views

“Hey you, Fatty! Stop eating so much!” declares UK government

by Stuart Farrimond in Dr Stu's Science Blog

That’s right, being fat is your fault after all. Yesterday, the UK minister for health, Andrew Lansley jabbed his not-too-chubby finger at the overweight far lacking insight into their food addiction. In a rally-call to the 60% of overweight adult Britons, his announced a new ‘national ambition’ is to cut out the hamburgers and go … Continue reading »... Read more »

  • October 13, 2011
  • 12:19 PM
  • 887 views

Evidence Based Point of Care Summaries [1] No “Best” Among the Bests?

by Laika in Laika's Medliblog

For many of today’s busy practicing clinicians, keeping up with the enormous and ever growing amount of medical information, poses substantial challenges [6]. Its impractical to do a PubMed search to answer each clinical question and then synthesize and appraise the evidence. Simply, because busy health care providers have limited time and many questions per day. As [...]... Read more »

Banzi, R., Liberati, A., Moschetti, I., Tagliabue, L., & Moja, L. (2010) A Review of Online Evidence-based Practice Point-of-Care Information Summary Providers. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 12(3). DOI: 10.2196/jmir.1288  

Goodyear-Smith F, Kerse N, Warren J, & Arroll B. (2008) Evaluation of e-textbooks. DynaMed, MD Consult and UpToDate. Australian family physician, 37(10), 878-82. PMID: 19002313  

  • October 13, 2011
  • 10:48 AM
  • 760 views

Kill Popular Science

by nooffensebut in The Unsilenced Science

This is a preliminary review of Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker’s new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature. I reveal serious errors and distortions from his peer-reviewed sources.... Read more »

Kevin Beaver, Ashley Sak, Jamie Vaske, & Jessica Nilsson. (2010) Genetic risk, parent–child relations, and antisocial phenotypes in a sample of African-American males. Psychiatry Research, 175(1-2), 160-164. info:/

Lu RB, Lee JF, Ko HC, Lin WW, Chen K, & Shih JC. (2002) No association of the MAOA gene with alcoholism among Han Chinese males in Taiwan. Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology , 26(3), 457-61. PMID: 11999895  

Philibert RA, Gunter TD, Beach SR, Brody GH, & Madan A. (2008) MAOA methylation is associated with nicotine and alcohol dependence in women. American journal of medical genetics. Part B, Neuropsychiatric genetics : the official publication of the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics, 147B(5), 565-70. PMID: 18454435  

  • October 12, 2011
  • 12:17 AM
  • 1,344 views

Cleaning an Amorsolo: A new digital cleaning technique for oil painting

by nath in Imprints of Philippine Science

A painting degrades overtime because of different chemical and physical processes. The degradation may be due to some dirt or dust, or light exposure which hastens the usual deterioration of the chemicals used in the paint.

Physical cleaning of the painting is one of the ways to bring the painting back to its original state. A problem though arises because physical cleaning of the painting is mostly subjective. There are no clear standards of restoration and it is pratically trial and error.
This is particularly risky if the painting is a treasured heritage such as an Amorsolo.... Read more »

  • October 10, 2011
  • 10:00 PM
  • 514 views

A history of music cognition?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

One of the pioneers in the field that would come to be called music cognition was H. Christopher Longuet-Higgins (1923-2004). Not only was Longuet-Higgins one of the founders of the cognitive sciences (he coined the term in 1973), but as early as 1971 he formulated, together with Mark Steedman, the first computer model of musical perception. That early work was followed in 1976 with a full-fledged alternative in the journal Nature, seven years earlier than the more widely known, but, according to Longuet-Higgins, less precisely formulated, Generative Theory of Tonal Music of Lerdahl and Jackendoff.... Read more »

Longuet-Higgins, C. (1983) All in theory — the analysis of music. Nature, 304(5921), 93-93. DOI: 10.1038/304093a0  

Longuet-Higgins, H. (1976) Perception of melodies. Nature, 263(5579), 646-653. DOI: 10.1038/263646a0  

Honing, H. (2011) The illiterate Listener. On music cognition, musicality and methodology. Amsterdam University Press. info:other

  • October 10, 2011
  • 08:00 AM
  • 745 views

Cooperation Is Child’s Play

by Krystal D'Costa in Anthropology in Practice

Cooperation confounds us: Humans are the only members of the animal kingdom to display this tendency to the extent that we do, and it’s an expensive endeavor with no guarantee of reciprocal rewards. While we continue to look for answers about how and why cooperation may have emerged in human social and cultural evolution, we [...]









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  • October 10, 2011
  • 01:39 AM
  • 1,141 views

Do Admission Interviews Predict Performance in Residency?

by Dr Shock in Dr Shock MD PhD

Buffer Since we’re busy selecting new residents for our program an article about the subject caught my eye. This article was about whether a structured, behavior-based applicant interview predicts future success in an obstetrics and gynecology residency program. Interesting question since little is known about the use of residency interview in predicting the applicant’s future [...]


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  • October 9, 2011
  • 08:06 PM
  • 713 views

Friday Fun: Breaking News! Correlation Does Not Equal Causation

by Psych Your Mind in Psych Your Mind



Man and IPhone pictured in loving embrace (source)

Right now I am teaching a personality psychology class and we are talking about research methods. Invariably, anytime I teach psychological methods I always end up talking about correlations--specifically, that a correlation is an association between two variables and nothing more. The important point is that correlations--even those that come from fancy associations between behavior and brain images--do not mean causation. Students are typically quite receptive to this information.

It's too bad that some journalists (and to be fair, even some scientists) forget this lesson. 

Just for fun, I gave out extra credit this week to any student who could find a news article claiming causation from correlation. I gave my students a 6 hour time window to complete this assignment. Not surprisingly, half my class of 60 students came back with a unique example (for those keeping score at home, that's 30 news articles that inappropriately infer cause from correlations)! Below, I summarize my three favorites:

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Veerman JL, Healy GN, Cobiac LJ, Vos T, Winkler EA, Owen N, & Dunstan DW. (2011) Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis. British journal of sports medicine. PMID: 21844603  

  • October 9, 2011
  • 02:46 AM
  • 1,019 views

An ontology for QSAR and cheminformatics

by egonw in Chem-bla-ics

QSAR and QSPR are the fields that statistically correlate chemical substance features with (biological) activities (QSAR) or properties (QSPR). The chemical substance can be molecular structures, drug (which are not uncommonly mixtures), and true mixture like nanomaterials (NanoQSAR). Readers of this blog know I have been working towards making these kind of studies more reproducible for many years now.

Parts of this full story include the Blue Obelisk Data Repository (BODR), QSAR-ML, the CDK for descriptor calculation, the Blue Obelisk Descriptor Ontology (BODO, doi:), still used by the CDK, and in the past by JOELib too, and much, much more. Really, I still feel that the statistics is by far the easiest bit in QSAR modeling.

New in this list of tools to make QSAR more reproducible, is the CHEMINF ontology, which further formalizes cheminformatics computation. In a collaboration with Janna and Christoph (EBI), Michel and Leonid (Carlton University), and Nico (formerly at Cambridge, now at CSIRO), we have cooked up an ontology, and the computational bits of it are captured by the below figure from the paper that just appeared in PLoS ONE.




Both the paper and the ontology have a Creative Commons license. The ontology has already been used by Leonid in other papers, and I have been using it already in the RDF-ed version of ChEMBL.

Next steps for me regarding this ontology is to convert to BODO to be based on CHEMINF, but highly interesting too is a reformulation of QSAR-ML to be based on CHEMINF. The QSAR markup language was long started before RDF came into the picture, so please forgive us for now using RDF from the start there.

One particularly interesting aspect this ontology captures is the difference between molecular entities and mixtures. Not uncommonly, QSAR studies correlate drugs to their binding affinities, even if those drugs are in fact mixtures of stereoisomers. While 0D, 1D, and 2D descriptors are not affected, geometrical descriptors most certainly are. Moveover, the modeled endpoint is very possibly the property of only one of the stereoisomers, most certainly for binding affinities. Yet, many QSAR study reports in literature do not record such details. The CHEMINF ontology defines the terms you need to publish such details.

Hastings, J., Chepelev, L., Willighagen, E., Adams, N., Steinbeck, C., & Dumontier, M. (2011). The Chemical Information Ontology: Provenance and Disambiguation for Chemical Data on the Biological Semantic Web PLoS ONE, 6 (10) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025513... Read more »

  • October 9, 2011
  • 12:00 AM
  • 663 views

Girls Versus Boys: The Final Battle

by nooffensebut in The Unsilenced Science

Here I review SAT score gender gaps by race, with special attention to the progress of Asian women. Plus, I detail the allele frequencies by race of body fat genes identified in a recent meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies.... Read more »

Kilpeläinen TO, Zillikens MC, Stančákova A, Finucane FM, Ried JS, Langenberg C, Zhang W, Beckmann JS, Luan J, Vandenput L.... (2011) Genetic variation near IRS1 associates with reduced adiposity and an impaired metabolic profile. Nature genetics, 43(8), 753-60. PMID: 21706003  

  • October 7, 2011
  • 05:17 PM
  • 370 views

“I love you this many dollars worth.”

by eHarmony Labs in eHarmony Labs Blog

“Presents are the best way to show someone how much you care. It is like this tangible thing that you can point to and say, ‘Hey man, I love you this many dollars-worth.’” – Michael Scott

How true is this quote? Is it really the thought that counts, or deep down are you placing a dollar amount on your relationship?
... Read more »

  • October 7, 2011
  • 11:13 AM
  • 520 views

Scandal-less

by Lee Turnpenny in The Mawk Moth Profligacies

Commending science... and the reporting of it.... Read more »

Noggle S, Fung HL, Gore A, Martinez H, Satriani KC, Prosser R, Oum K, Paull D, Druckenmiller S, Freeby M.... (2011) Human oocytes reprogram somatic cells to a pluripotent state. Nature, 478(7367), 70-5. PMID: 21979046  

  • October 6, 2011
  • 12:19 PM
  • 665 views

New York Times on Addiction and The Insula

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

In Clue to Addiction, Brain Injury Halts SmokingBy BENEDICT CAREYPublished: January 26, 2007Scientists studying stroke patients are reporting today that an injury to a specific part of the brain, near the ear, can instantly and permanently break a smoking habit. People with the injury who stopped smoking found that their bodies, as one man put it, “forgot the urge to smoke.”The finding, which appears in the journal Science, is based on a small study [Naqvi et al., 2007]. But experts say it is likely to alter the course of addiction research, pointing researchers toward new ideas for treatment.While no one is suggesting brain injury as a solution for addiction, the finding suggests that therapies might focus on the insula, a prune-size region under the frontal lobes that is thought to register gut feelings and is apparently a critical part of the network that sustains addictive behavior.Hey, wait a minute!Didn't the NYT just publish an authoritative piece to the contrary? In You Love Your iPhone. Literally., Martin Lindstrom claimed the insula was a signifier of love and compassion, not addiction:WITH Apple widely expected to release its iPhone 5 on Tuesday, Apple addicts across the world are getting ready for their latest fix.But should we really characterize the intense consumer devotion to the iPhone as an addiction? A recent experiment that I carried out using neuroimaging technology suggests that drug-related terms like “addiction” and “fix” aren’t as scientifically accurate as a word we use to describe our most cherished personal relationships. That word is “love.”. . .But most striking of all was the flurry of activation in the insular cortex of the brain, which is associated with feelings of love and compassion. The subjects’ brains responded to the sound of their phones as they would respond to the presence or proximity of a girlfriend, boyfriend or family member. OK, OK, we all know by now that royal proclamations of brain function based on logical fallacies and unpublished (and never-to-be-peer-reviewed) commercial studies are not to be believed. NYT did publish a retort to this silliness, a Letter to the Editor (The iPhone and the Brain) in which "Forty-five neuroscientists respond to a recent Op-Ed about using brain imaging to analyze our attachment to digital devices." We also know that the insula is activated in a substantial percentage of all neuroimaging studies (Yarkoni et al. 2011; PDF). Reflecting this ubiquity, The Neurocritic blog archive contains 73 unique posts with the word "insula."But what of addiction and the insula? In their 2007 Science paper, Naqvi and colleagues performed a retrospective study of 69 stroke patients (all smokers): 19 with lesions in the insula and 50 with lesions elsewhere. The color coding in the figure below depicts the number of individuals with damage in specific brain regions.Fig. 1 (Naqvi et al., 2007). Number (N) of patients with lesion in each of the regions identified in this study, mapped onto a reference brain. Boundaries of anatomically defined regions are drawn on the brain surface. Regions not assigned a color contained no lesions. (Top) All patients. The horizontal line marks the transverse section of the brain shown in the top row. The vertical line marks the coronal section shown in the bottom row. (Middle) Patients with lesions that involved the insula. (Bottom) Patients with lesions that did not involve the insula.The likelihood of post-stroke smoking cessation did not differ between the insula and non-insula groups, but those with insula lesions who did quit smoking reported that it was easy to do so. The authors concluded that......smokers with brain damage involving the insula, a region implicated in conscious urges, were more likely than smokers with brain damage not involving the insula to undergo a disruption of smoking addiction, characterized by the ability to quit smoking easily, immediately, without relapse, and without persistence of the urge to smoke. The problem with this assertion is that it relies on memory for events that occurred an average of 8 yrs earlier, which could be subject to recall bias (Vorel et al., 2007). A better design would be a prospective study that follows patients from the time of stroke and then assesses subsequent smoking behavior. In fact, Bienkowski et al. (2010) performed such a study and failed to see a difference between their insula and non-insula groups at a 3 month follow-up. This suggests that the insula does not play a special role in addiction.What does this mean for iPhone love? Is Lindstrom right? Unlikely! He would have to demonstrate that insular strokes cause an inability to feel love for iPhones (or anything else, for that matter). Such a finding would suggest that an intact insula is necessary for the experience of love and compassion, and that the activity in his fMRI experiment was not a mere epiphenomenon.In the real world of peer-reviewed neuroimaging research, however, that sort of converging evidence is rarely obtained.Further ReadingNYT Editorial + fMRI = complete crapthe New York Times blows it big time on brain imagingNeuromarketing means never having to say you're peer reviewed (but here's your NYT op-ed space)fMRI Shows My Bullshit Detector Going Ape Shit Over iPhone Lust...and pollyannaish comment by Martin LindstromNYT Letter to the Editor: The uncut versionArticles on insular cortex from The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry BlogThe Insula Is The New Black... No Longer an Island, the Insula Is Now a Hub of High FashionReferencesBienkowski P, Zatorski P, Baranowska A, Ryglewicz D, Sienkiewicz-Jarosz H. (2010). Insular lesions and smoking cessation after first-ever ischemic stroke: a 3-month follow-up. Neurosci Lett. 478:161-4.... Read more »

Naqvi, N., Rudrauf, D., Damasio, H., & Bechara, A. (2007) Damage to the Insula Disrupts Addiction to Cigarette Smoking. Science, 315(5811), 531-534. DOI: 10.1126/science.1135926  

  • October 6, 2011
  • 11:45 AM
  • 682 views

Charles Darwin and the Vivisection Outrage

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

Author’s Note: The following originally appeared at The Dispersal of Darwin. According to the British Medical Journal the alleged crime resembled a crucifixion. The victims had been strapped to boards, backs down, and with their legs cinched outwards. In the stifling August heat their heavy breathing was made only more intense by a suffocating fear. [...]









... Read more »

Feller, D. (2009) Dog fight: Darwin as animal advocate in the antivivisection controversy of 1875. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 40(4), 265-271. DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2009.09.004  

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