Monday Miscellany: Trolley Killers, Pain, PTSD

1. Via Stephanie, new and fascinating pain research out of Stanford.

Neuroimaging studies from several different labs examining diverse types of pain offer tantalizing clues. They all show that chronic pain patients have stronger connections among brain regions involved in pain perception and processing, as well as losses in gray matter in those areas and perturbations in brain chemistry compared to healthy individuals.

These changes are so profound and consistent that a computer can be trained to spot chronic pain patients by their brain scans alone. In 2011, Mackey’s team demonstrated just that. They taught a computer to recognize the brain activity pattern of a person experiencing acute pain. In 2012, they extended the work to chronic pain. When they fed structural MRI pictures from patients with lower back pain and healthy controls into a computer, it was able to distinguish these groups with 76 percent accuracy, based largely on gray matter changes.

Working with colleagues at Lucas, Mackey, who has a PhD in electrical engineering, also perfected a technique to obtain functional imaging scans of the spinal cord (tricky because the spine shifts with every breath). At a 2013 conference, his team presented preliminary evidence of amped-up connections in the spinal cord—which is responsible not only for routing messages to the brain but for sending inhibitory signals back to the body—that may play a role in chronic pain.

2. Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future

3. Genetic Russian Roulette (and read the comments, too, for some discussion of Sudbury Schools)

4. The words you use matter. We’ve known for a while about how much self-report can be skewed, but in clinical interview settings, it’s particularly important to talk so people can understand you.

5. Nightmares as a problematic and intrusive symptom of PTSD, and techniques for treating them.

6. And speaking of nightmares, here’s a comprehensive-but-readable roundup of the research.

7. ….YES.
Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 2.44.33 PM Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 2.44.46 PM

8. I know everyone’s going to be bowled over in shock, but an actual longitudinal study in the UK found that videogames don’t seem to measurably change kids’ behavior.

9. On teaching consent to children. I post versions of “teach kids to honor and expect consent-based ethics!” posts pretty regularly, but it’s an important enough idea to bear repeating.

I cannot express how important it was to actively practice saying “No” and “Stop” forcefully. I’m not going to lie: I thought the playful ‘Smiley-No’ was kinda fun. I’m not sure how I got the idea that saying “no” when I actually mean “yes” was fun. Does that idea come from ambient social-messaging, or some sort of natural impulse? I doubt I will ever know. But for my brother, the playful ‘No’ was indistinguishable from the serious ‘No’ so long as I still had a smile on my face.

There are plenty of reasons why someone (females in particular) would present a ‘Smiley-No’ when they seriously mean ‘No’. In fact, it’s totally natural to smile and laugh when afraid as a form of appeasement. There’s even a catchy name for this behavior; its called ‘tend and befriend‘. Additionally, females are socialized from a young age to suppress their voices, to be soft- spoken, and not-be-forceful in general.

Whether the tendency to give a ‘Smiley-No’ when we are truly frightened comes from nature or nurture, the fact that it’s so ingrained is all the more reason to actively break the habit by practicing.

10. I’m breaking my own rule about only posting linking to things I think are worth rereading and sharing, but how could I not link to something that contains these arguments?

Once both heterosexual marriage and gay marriage are legal, there will be no reason to prohibit bisexual marriage.


The secular case for polyamory will go something like this: If it’s legal to be right handed, and legal to be left handed, then it should be legal to be ambidextrous.

11. So I’ve said this several times now, but go read Worm. I can’t say you won’t regret it–it will certainly suck you in and eat up your free time, but it will be SO WORTH IT.

In Which Scary Things Happened, Decisions Were Made, And I Didn’t Blog


Dear readers.

I have been really great about blogging Monday Miscellany link posts. Except for that time I posted on Tuesday last week. And when I haven’t done them.

Okay, so I’ve been mediocre.

But! There are reasons!

1) Big Life Changes. I’m increasingly sold on the idea of graduate school following this year. This means applying to graduate school. Which eats a lot of time. Common App? No such luck. Individual applications with ambiguous instructions? Yeah, got that bit covered.
      a) This meant picking graduate schools. Yeah, that’s hard to do. I’m intending to get a Masters in Social Work (MSW), and I needed to decide exactly where to do that. Since certification as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker varies from state to state–and licenses don’t transfer–I’m effectively picking where I want to live for a long while. That’s…scary. I don’t have a strong identification to a place as My Place.
      b) In the absence of having My Place Where I Want To Live Somewhat Permanently, I have to decide what I need and value from a location. Real seasons seem to be a minor but notable requirement. A support system seems very necessary. At the same time, I feel a strong aversion (which seems to be socially conditioned and not useful at all) to not be That Girl, who moves because of friends, who isn’t independent enough, etc. This is probably a stupid feeling, since all my experience in the last four years says that I like being in places with people who make me happy, care about my feelings, and will sit in coffee shops and blog with me. Unfortunately, stupid feelings want be just as loud as reasonable feelings, and don’t come with warning labels.
     c) Good news! I have a whole list of places I’m applying to now. I have started those applications! This feels delightful. The future seems a little less like a big scary black hole of paperwork and failure.

2) It’s finals. It was midterms. (These keep happening.) This results in lots of stressing and very little writing. What little writing that does occur does seem to be in the pursuit of finishing papers.

3) I’ve been working. I just finished a teaching assistantship on the weekends, and I’m the social media contractor for the SSA. These are both fun, but they take time, and I haven’t managed to get my hands on a Time Turner.

4) Fear. For some reason–perhaps reading more specialized science blogs, perhaps jerkbrain, I’ve started a number of posts over the last weeks, and then just…stopped. The impulse would die, or I’d get caught up in another project, or I’d look at 300 words and think, nah, someone else has written a much better version of this anyways. So…link posts reigned. These will continue! But I’m trying to talk myself into more blogging. I LIKE it. I really do! So! Ideas for blogging? Stick them in the comments? Topics you want to see? The same!

Monday Miscellany: Vivaldi, Fourier, TUESDAY

I failed at posting this properly on Monday. Mostly because I was so busy having fun at Skepticon. Can you blame me? (Answer: yes, but you should click these links anyways)

1. Facts So Romantic is exactly my kind of column. Romance is good research tailor to your interests, y’all. Or flowers. Whatever floats your boat. Anyways, FSR is here making the Fourier transform seem positively dreamy.

2. Signaling and the stress of ‘whistling Vivaldi’:

Social psychologist Claude Steele revolutionized our understanding of the daily context and cognitive effects of stereotypes and bias. The title of his book alludes to a story his friend, NY Times writer, Brent Staples once shared. An African American man, Staples, recounts how his physical presence terrified whites as he moved about Chicago as a free citizen and graduate student. To counter the negative effects of white fear he took to whistling a classical music piece by Italian composer Vivaldi. It was a signal to the victimless victims of his blackness that he was safe. Dangerous black men do not listen to classical music, or so the hope goes. The incongruence between Staples’ musical choices and the stereotype of him as a predator were meant to disrupt the implicit, unexamined racist assumptions of him. It seems trite perhaps, an attempt to make whites feel at ease unless we recall the potential consequences of white dis-ease for black lives.

3. I’m lucky enough to know Erik in Real Life(tm) and this piece about UnderArmor, Northwestern football, and what it means that we glorify injury is amazing.

[…] we’d much rather see “service” and “country” written across the backs of our players’ blood-stained uniforms than “chronic traumatic encephalopathy,” the neurodegenerative condition that is responsible for what most people know as “the concussion scandal” sweeping the NFL. Because just like real warriors, we want our football players to keep fighting when they get blood spattered on them, or have a concussion, or, like legendary quarterback Brett Favre, can’t remember their daughters’ soccer games. What we don’t want them to do is kill themselves, like four NFL players or ex-players did in an eight-month span last year. You could be retired Chargers icon Junior Seau, or a young, active player like Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who shot himself outside the team’s practice facility after murdering his girlfriend in front of his 3-month old daughter. It doesn’t matter. No one’s immune to the mysterious but all too common “something” that football can do to you. Of course, our real warriors also kill themselves—at a rate a recent estimate placed at around 22 veteran suicides every day. It turns out that it’s much easier to fight through some blood on the outside of your jersey, or uniform, or flag, than it is to fight through what can go on inside your head.

4. Now that we’re married, can we go back to being queer?

5. Language and how it can give you more ways to divide and clarify your understanding.

6. On consent in romantic relationships:

There’s a lot of fuzzy usage around the word consent. I would like to propose a tightening of the definition, because if we are not clear about what consent is, we cannot possibly succeed in communicating about it. Consent is about me: my body, my mind, and my choices. My consent is required to access the things that I own. You do not need my consent to act, because I do not own your body, your mind, or your choices. However, if your behavior crosses into my personal space, then you need my consent. If my romantic partner goes out and sleeps with a dozen random hookups, he may have broken an agreement, but he has not violated my consent. If he then has sex with me without telling me about his actions, he has violated my consent because he has deprived me of the ability to make an informed choice.

7. People with really great memories are actually not so great at sifting through misinformation. Hunh.

8.This one isn’t a link. I just had a wonderful time at Skepticon 6 and I am just starting to come down from the ridiculous happiness of seeing dearly loved people. I twirled and made silly faces and tabled and was recognized by some of you dear readers. (This still leaves me speechless and flabbergasted) and wow, waking up in Chicago was a bit of a letdown today. So many thanks to the wonderful people who made that happen.

At This Absurd Hour…

….I am sitting in the airport, about to catch my flight to St. Louis, where I will drive with Miri and Adam Lee to SKEPTICON.

-I am going to be tabling for the Secular Student Alliance. You should come by and hear about how awesome we are. I am almost as exclamatory in person as I am online.

-I have a twitter! I use it significantly more than I’ve been blogging, and you should follow it. Or not. Or you should. (It’s really early and I’m reversing my reverse psychology. Or something.) But you should definitely be following @SecularStudents.

-I’m reading Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. I like it, but it gives me perpetual deja vu. Near constant instances of “oh, yes, of course everyone knows about this study with the–OH. You did this study!?” Fun fact: Hare Krishnas, the ones who will give you a flower or religious text and then immediately ask for a donation? (My university has them regularly.) This is actually a widely successful and planned campaign based on needing to raise more funds as Krishnas expanded into the United States. Less fun fact: this totally works by playing on our need to reciprocate favors, even when we didn’t want the favor in the first place.

This is Worm. It is a web novel (free!) and it involves superheroes! And character depth! And near-dystopian settings! And people making reasonable decisions based on the information they have, rather than blind faith and/or dues ex machina! I am also reading it, swapping between dead-tree book and online, but it’s horribly addictive and may take over all of my Cialdini time.


See you all in a few hours! I will probably be terribly, horribly sleep deprived, and have some dear ones to see before I do normal conference socializing, but normal!Kate will be back by the evening.

Monday Miscellany: Gorilla Opacity, Polyamory, Bad Statistics

1. Polyamory doesn’t get a free pass at being radical without an analysis of power in our interactions.

2. On signaling status and using luxuries to get past gatekeeping, The Logic of Stupid Poor People.

Why do poor people make stupid, illogical decisions to buy status symbols? For the same reason all but only the most wealthy buy status symbols, I suppose. We want to belong. And, not just for the psychic rewards, but belonging to one group at the right time can mean the difference between unemployment and employment, a good job as opposed to a bad job, housing or a shelter, and so on. Someone mentioned on twitter that poor people can be presentable with affordable options from Kmart. But the issue is not about being presentable. Presentable is the bare minimum of social civility. It means being clean, not smelling, wearing shirts and shoes for service and the like. Presentable as a sufficient condition for gainful, dignified work or successful social interactions is a privilege. It’s the aging white hippie who can cut the ponytail of his youthful rebellion and walk into senior management while aging black panthers can never completely outrun the effects of stigmatization against which they were courting a revolution. Presentable is relative and, like life, it ain’t fair.

3. Statistics Done Wrong: A Woefully Complete Guide

If you’re a practicing scientist, you probably use statistics to analyze your data. From basic t tests and standard error calculations to Cox proportional hazards models and geospatial kriging systems, we rely on statistics to give answers to scientific problems. This is unfortunate, because most of us don’t know how to do statistics. Statistics Done Wrong is a guide to the most popular statistical errors and slip-ups committed by scientists every day, in the lab and in peer-reviewed journals. Many of the errors are prevalent in vast swathes of the published literature, casting doubt on the findings of thousands of papers.Statistics Done Wrong assumes no prior knowledge of statistics, so you can read it before your first statistics course or after thirty years of scientific practice.

4. Bystanders won’t always interpret you as charitably as I do.

5.  Miri responds to this post in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

 Folks, nobody will hear you loudly doing nothing about bigotry. Nobody will care that you determinedly, passionately shrugged and closed the browser tab and moved on. The best case scenario of this is that trolls will keep trolling and bigots will keep bigoting.

The best case scenario of speaking up is that you change minds. The good-but-not-best case scenario is that you don’t necessarily change any minds, but the bigot will stop posting bigotry because they’ll realize they’ll be hated for it. And others won’t see that bigotry and either be hurt OR assume that it’s okay and they can do it too.

6. Back in my homestate, Texas A&M combines religion and neuroscience into a new course. How this could be a course I’d jump at the chance to take: what does religion change (if anything) in the brain? Are those changes religion-specific? Do certain kinds of rituals result in certain kinds of responses? What about spirituality? Does one have to believe in the supernatural stuff, or just participate in the ritual?  What this course actually is:

[…]when discussing evolution of the nervous system, the students will also consider the Biblical book of Genesis and other creation stories. The lesson about action potentials — the cellular process that transmits information within and between neurons — will also include a discussion of Descartes and dualism between mind and brain.

7. Found this pullquote on tumblr from Allie Brosh’s new book, Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened. You should almost definitely buy it here.

Most people can motivate themselves to do things simply by knowing that those things need to be done. But not me. For me, motivation is this horrible, scary game where I try to make myself do something while I actively avoid doing it. If I win, I have to do something I don’t want to do. If I lose, I’m one step closer to ruining my entire life. And I never know whether I’m going to win or lose until the last second.

8. Via Scott at Slate Star Codex, this study, entitled The Invisible Gorilla Strikes Again: Sustained Inattentional Blindness in Expert Observers. And you know, I think I’m just going to let him explain:

You remember the Invisible Gorilla Test? Now they’ve done the same thing, except that this time they ask radiologists to evaluate a patient’s lungs for potential cancer, and see how many of those radiologists fail to notice that the patient’s lungs also contain a gorilla. I am not making this up. One day, we will tell our grandchildren about the bad old days when science was about discovering bosons and stuff instead of just cataloguing the situations in which we can trick people into ignoring gorillas.

Yes, this is a link post that just quoted a link post. Let’s just ignore that.

Aaaand, now that I’ve linked you to something that used “gorilla opacity” in serious terms, I think that’s enough silliness for Monday.

Love FtB, Hate Ads? We’ve got a solution for you!

For those who hate seeing ads and/or those who would like to financially support this network of blogs, Jason Thibeault at Lousy Canuck has set up a system that will give you ad-free access by purchasing a subscription.

The rates are $3 for a 30-day subscription, $8 for 90-day subscription, and $30 for a 365-day subscription and one subscription applies to all the blogs at FtB.

If you are not already signed into a valid user account, you’ll be sent to the Login page, where you can pick one of the options: to sign into a third party authorizing service like Yahoo or Google; connect with your blog account; or click the Register link underneath all of it to sign up for a local user account.

There is the slim possibility that you might have difficulty getting to that dashboard page if you are an existing user and don’t already have access. If we get a lot of reports of this, Jason will take measures to automatically add all the user accounts to that main dashboard, but you should be able to get there by default regardless of when or where you signed up.

One of the limitations so far is that this service only uses Paypal, which does unfortunately exclude some people from being able to participate. Jason will be attempting to integrate other payment gateways as his limited time allows. This work is done by him on a volunteer basis in addition to all the other things he does, so please have patience if it takes some time.

If there are bugs, please report them directly to Jason by clicking here.

On Nail Polish and Pizza

After a bit of an unusual childhood/teenagerhood, I spent a lot of my senior year of high school and freshman year of college hacking away at a list of things I’d never had to learn that are rote to your average young adult.

I’d never used a microwave before, for instance. (For the record, really mean it about the metal. Also, generalizing from “well, the other containers I put in the microwave those other two times didn’t get hot!” is a terrible plan.) Or matches/lighters. If anyone has hints or tricks on that front for someone with either a mild phobia or silly fear, toss them thisaway. (The first time I attempted to light a candle, I set my thumb on fire. Turns out nail polish is flammable. Have sneakily avoided all kinds of fire since.)

The thing is, it was rarely just a single task that I wanted to know, like, how does one paint their nails? I didn’t actually want the specific information about getting the smelly stuff on your nails and only on the nail parts–though seriously, how does one do their right hand?!–I wanted the set of all the knowledge you get from trying it at age twelve and screwing up and being told you need to take it off because it’s too chipped. It’s knowing which colors are considered professional and which aren’t and whether or not it matters if your nails match your clothes (it seems impossible to do, but teen magazines kept assuring me it’s a thing). So it never was “how do you paint your nails?” that I was asking, it was “how do I get all of the knowledge you have from painting your nails without screwing up a simple step and looking foolish in the process?”

At this point, few normal things reduce me to stressful bafflement, or require me to google around. (Shoutout to WikiHow!) Few things, that is, until last Wednesday, when I realized I had no idea how one places an order for delivery. Or whether one can pay with a credit card. Or if one does it far in advance of when you needed the food. Or how much to tip. It’s all solved now, but geez, I have no idea how I’d be doing without people writing nice articles like How To Order A Pizza Over The Phone.

[Of course, the best laid plans and all that, and the pizza arrived an hour later than I’d scheduled it.]

Monday Miscellany: Anorexia, Anonymous Comments, Alternative Energy Sources

65632_10200463503102210_1178298586_nIf I managed to publish this on time, I’ve survived it to Week 6 of 10, in my ninth quarter of academics. (One quarter of the last three years was spent at Fabulous Unspecified Internship.)

1. PubMed has opened commenting with the intention of allowing it for all PubMed authors. This cannot possibly go wrong.
Upside: No anonymous comments!
Downside: little moderation.

2. Women in my family have been shrinking for decades. [Trigger warning for eating disorders like woah.]

3. Reviewing the DSM 5 as a dystopian novel…death by a hundred lines of cutting satire.

For all the subtlety of its characterization, the book doesn’t just provide a chilling psychological portrait, it conjures up an entire world. The clue is in the name: On some level we’re to imagine that the American Psychiatric Association is a body with real powers, that the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual” is something that might actually be used, and that its caricature of our inner lives could have serious consequences. Sections like those on the personality disorders offer a terrifying glimpse of a futuristic system of repression, one in which deviance isn’t furiously stamped out like it is in Orwell’s unsubtle Oceania, but pathologized instead. Here there’s no need for any rats, and the diagnostician can honestly believe she’s doing the right thing; it’s all in the name of restoring the sick to health. DSM-5 describes a nightmare society in which human beings are individuated, sick, and alone. For much of the novel, what the narrator of this story is describing is its own solitude, its own inability to appreciate other people, and its own overpowering desire for death – but the real horror lies in the world that could produce such a voice.

I…suddenly feel like one of those antidepressant commercials with the little cloud over me.

4. If you have been recently describing people who want to have children as breeders and/or children as spawn, stop. [See also: Cease! Desist! and ohmygod whyyyyy were you doing that?] Chana also pointed me to this piece from Leah, which made me think of the importance of tolerating the occasionally fussy baby as part of how we provide social support to parents. If supporting adults doesn’t seem a good enough reason, social support seems a factor in preventing abuse and neglect of children.

5. This is not psychology related, but it is wonderful. In fact, even the announcement is great enough that I’ll let it speak for itself:

What we are offering you today is the opportunity to bid on a digital portrait of your dashing visage, executed by the one and only Zach Weinersmith, the author and illustrator of the wildly famous Sunday Morning Breakfast Cereal webcomic. This is an incredibly rare opportunity, not available since the days of Veláquez in the court of Philip IV, to have yourself preserved for all time, a masterpiece that future collectors will vie for to display on the walls of their own palaces. Needless to say, this is not something you’ll want to miss out on.

6. Still not psychology, still hilarious. @HardSciFiMovies. You should really just take my word for it and go follow them, but for the skeptics:

Xenu of the Galactic Federation demands eternal dominion over all life. He decides to start his own religion. It is popular with celebrities

A hacker must break the encryption on the explosive device within 60 seconds. This would require a computer the size of Mexico. He dies.

A scientist would usurp God, to toy and tinker with the very fabric of life. The resultant kumquats have increased mold resistance.

A scientist bursts into a White House meeting to announce urgent findings to the President. A number of Secret Service personnel are fired.

7. Treating anorexia nervosa in adults. There’s a very thin silver lining in this, but mostly AN is treatment-resistant in ways you won’t see in teen populations.

8. Wind Turbine Syndrome


A Tale of Two Weirds

Bobo dolls are also weeeeeird.

Science is weird, and it is WEIRD.

On the one hand, we have the weird stuff. The study of youtube videos. How long mammals take to pee.  The farting salmon. Heck, everything about the IgNobels. Psychology, for the record, is not exempt. Have you seen the BoBo doll experiments?

Imaginary Bandura to imaginary research assistant: Could you just go in this room, and ah, punch the lights out of this inflatable doll? Look like you’re enjoying it, and keep it up for at least five minutes.

There’s some fascinating arguments that we should maybe talk less about this ‘weird’ science, that when we laugh and sigh and say ‘they spent all that money to study what about snails?’ we’re actually devaluing important research in the eyes of the people who just see it in the newspaper. And I really really want research to be done because it might add something of value to what we know, not because the results will sound impressive*. So I lean towards agreeing–maybe we should frame it less as “how weird and arcane and odd it is that people think this is worth spending their time on!” and more like “woah, isn’t it neat that we can learn important things from experiments like launching jellyfish into space?!”

And on then, on the other hand, there is WEIRD science, and it is this that should be keeping us up at night, leaving us a little ragged and hysterical and twitchy, not the people who swallowed shrews whole and then examined their poop.  I kid, I kid. (Not about the shrew-swallowing, though, that’s totally an actual scientific study.)

Our research studies, the ones that make grand and sweeping claims about human behavior? They come overwhelmingly from Western, educated participants living in industrialized, rich, and democratic countries.

And it’s more than just the college sophomore problem, wherein to get class credit, your collegiate 20-year-old will obligingly answer questionnaires, take the Implicit Association tests, and get trapped in endless prisoner’s dilemmas. (Trust me, as a psych-studying former college sophomore, by the three hundred and seventy second time you get asked to press Z to cooperate or M to defect, it is oooold.)

So we have this majority of research that’s conducted on a very specific–and non-majority!–of the population. And then we use it to make some Big Claims about how people think. Like, really big claims about conformity and social interventions and How Humans Got This Way. (I am making side-eyes at you, evolutionary psychology**.) And this seems to be a very incorrect plan.

Truth is, we don’t have a great handle on how much of a problem WEIRD research participants are. Though preliminary research suggests that we should be incredibly concerned by our habits of extrapolating WEIRD research to claims about human behavior. (From the abstract: “One of the least representative samples of the human population.”)

And of course, if you want to determine the usefulness of an intervention in the United States, you don’t much care to get an international sample of the world, you want to know about Americans (though here I would remind you that not all Americans are young adults attending research universities). But what if you want to know about conformity? Or gendered behavior? Or memory? Or sleep? Or IQ? Or moral development? The foundations of these are all considered solid and basic, the sort of thing you’ll see in high school, or 101…and guess who we sampled?

Look, it’s entirely possible that non-WEIRD people act just like WEIRD people. (It seems incredibly unlikely, but go with me here.) The problem is, we really don’t have enough information. And we keep brushing it off and explaining to college freshman that yes, people will conform and agree that this line is shorter than those lines at these rates. We’re missing all this potential nuance! and data!

So yes, we should probably present weird science as less about the weird, and more about the science. But WEIRD science? We need to talk about it more. Lots more.


*It’s actually slightly more complicated than that, because of course I’d rather have something that gets us closer to a cure for a horrible disease or fixes some global crisis. However, this seems to be reflected in the fact that we spend more money on developing approaches to cancer than we do on investigating bellybutton lint. 

**No, I don’t think evolutionary psychology is entirely bunk. But I think it should be especially concerned about these sampling issues, and it makes me nervous that I don’t see it. 

Monday Miscellany: Male Gamers! Millenials! Midterms.

It’s Monday! I have midterms! So, whilst I dog-paddle furiously in academic soup and mix metaphors with abandon, here’s some links.

1. Even as I knew Male Gamers Only was a satire, I got caught up in it and I had…Feelings.

2. The Curse of Cute. Dammit, science, ruining EVERYTHING. (…She said, sipping clean water and using the internet.)

3.  Attention, news media. Not all Millennials are white and privileged. [See also: not all people

I have a timer set on my phone. It counts how often I hear the words “millennial” or “Generation Y’er” with some sweeping crass generalization about how awful people my age are. It is coupled of course with photos, of some Instagram-lit, tattooed, white manic-pixie dream girl and her alt-rock flannel boyfriend. The chances of the poster children looking like me (fat, and unambiguously black) hover between not-in-the-slightest and Christmas miracle. Rhetoric that comes anywhere close to talking about my life is even less common.

It’s easy to to make fun of the entitled, selfie-taking stereotype. In reality those of us born between 1980 and 2009 are a diverse group, who have had extraordinarily different experiences growing up. The lack of engagement with race, class, regional, political and immigration issues in journalism about millennials does us all a disservice by dodging the serious questions of what our coming of age means for the future of America.

4. This piece about science and whether there really is a self correcting mechanism, makes me feel like a psych hipster. I was suspicious of priming research before Kahneman made it cool. And this:

It is tempting to see the priming fracas as an isolated case in an area of science—psychology—easily marginalised as soft and wayward. But irreproducibility is much more widespread. A few years ago scientists at Amgen, an American drug company, tried to replicate 53 studies that they considered landmarks in the basic science of cancer, often co-operating closely with the original researchers to ensure that their experimental technique matched the one used first time round. According to a piece they wrote last year in Nature, a leading scientific journal, they were able to reproduce the original results in just six. Months earlier Florian Prinz and his colleagues at Bayer HealthCare, a German pharmaceutical giant, reported in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, a sister journal, that they had successfully reproduced the published results in just a quarter of 67 seminal studies.

5. The psychology of intent versus impact. Yeah, we’re really bad at untangling the two. Here’s why.

6. Talking to our children about rape.

7. Neil Gaiman on libraries.

They were good librarians. They liked books and they liked the books being read. They taught me how to order books from other libraries on inter-library loans. They had no snobbery about anything I read. They just seemed to like that there was this wide-eyed little boy who loved to read, and would talk to me about the books I was reading, they would find me other books in a series, they would help. They treated me as another reader – nothing less or more – which meant they treated me with respect. I was not used to being treated with respect as an eight-year-old.

But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.

8. There are new ethical guidelines for experimental testing involving humans, and by and large, it’s awesome. Not awesome? Things like this [emphasis mine]:

Granting agencies increasingly require that research they fund involving [randomized controlled trials] will be preregistered, but many psychological intervention studies are simply noncompliant. Checking published randomized clinical trials of psychological interventions, one finds that more recent ones are registered, but that often the outcomes reported in the published papers differ from what is reported in the registration. Alternatively, the registration involves designation of a primary outcome that could be assessed by a full range of measures, without stating which measure will be used. Researchers thus assess psychological distress with the BDI, the CES-D, the distress thermometer, adjective checklists, and a battery of self-reported anxiety measures. They then pick the measures that make the intervention looked most effective. This is the source of rampant selective reporting of outcomes and confirmatory bias. The proportion of clinical trials that report negative outcomes continues to decline, and there’s little doubt that this stems from selective reporting, not improvement in the design and evaluation of interventions.

My reaction. Luckily, these new guidelines are extending what sorts of trials should be registered.

Happy Monday!