January 29, 2007

From Steve (sro mes 1@ya hoo. com):

Re: Genes may help predict infidelity, study reports (Nov. 30): I read your article and it was interesting, but it begs the question of why don’t women use their sense of smell to chose a more compatible partner to begin with?

From Murray Stainton:

Re: Study: Nobel Prize may add two years to life (Jan. 20): In your piece on Nobel Prize winners living longer, the notion of reversed causation is not considered. That is, because the data are correlational, it may not be the prize causing longevity, but something about winning people causing them both to win the prize and to live longer.

From Simon Ethan:

Re: Most horrible sound: vomiting, study finds (Jan. 24): There is what I consider a serious flaw in the research about what sounds people find most distasteful. When recordings are digitized and compressed, very high and very low frequencies are often truncated, which can markedly affect the character of a sound. Acoustic sounds change dramatically when recorded — regardless of the quality — and the results of this research may have been very different, had it been done live (nonviable as this would have been). Nails down a chalkboard owe their chilling timbre to the harmonic frequencies they produce, and those would have to be present to create that shudder. On another, more distrubing note, I watched to the video of Nick Berg’s decapitation in Iraq years ago. Another captive was being tortured off-screen, and the genuine screams that came from that person were far more unpleasant than any of the sounds offered in the study. I doubt a minority would agree.

January 02, 2007

From Kevin Cooper:

Re: First cancer vaccine approved (June 9): You did not mention that that the vaccine was invented in Australia by an Australian. The following was extracted from this web site: www.whitehat.com.au/Australia/Inventions/InventionsA.html

The world’s first vaccine to prevent cervical cancer with the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives was developed by Professor Ian Frazer and others at the University of Queensland during the 1990s and eventually approved for use in USA in 2006. The vaccine does not act against cancer but against the virus that causes cervical cancer. It was released onto the market in 2006 under the name Gardacil.

From Michael Ricciardi:

Re: Pot may be both good and bad, researchers say (Nov. 25): This is an intriguing report on Cannabis, insofar as it seems to contradict the medical truism that ‘the dose makes the poison’, meaning that the greater the dose, the greater the toxic effect, etc. The article asserts that HIGH dosages are therapeutic, but LOW dosages allow toxic effects to accumulate (and the report does state that the tested dosages were in fact lower that typical human dosages).

Curiously, the article does not mention endocannabinoids, which are naturally occurring neuro-transmitter precursors that are crucial to general neuro-transmission, and whose nerve cell receptors are plentiful in the brain (cannabinoids are primary, chemically active compounds found in marijuana).

Once again, it seems, Cannabis proves far more complex a substance that many have supposed.

And, classifying the drug remains problematic, as it can manifest different effects in different persons. For this reason, some have suggested classifying marijuana as an ‘adaptogen’.

Aside from this, I note that the report treats the drug in isolation from the popular ‘pharmacopia’; it does not draw comparisons with other drugs, whether medical or recreational. Other general studies show Cannabis (and Psilocybe) to be amongst the LEAST toxic substances (based upon comparisons of ‘effective dose to lethal dose’ ratios).

The researchers do not seem to allow consideration of ‘recreational use’ as a legitimate (if not wholly desirable) purpose for the drug.

To be sure, ALL drugs have SOME medicinal (or therapeutic) and deleterious qualities, and this fact warrants clinical study. But, one has to wonder, given the legality, social usage, and known physical effects (‘pharmacology’) of alcohol, why marijuana must be continuously subjected to such ‘serious’ investigations that, covertly, attempt to suggest social/public policy.

From Michael Ricciardi:

Re: “Trust hormone” now tied to “mind reading” -- and in­creas­ingly, autism (Dec. 13): The article is fascinating and certainly suggests an important avenue of continued research... but I could not help from noticing a ‘discrepancy’ with data from an earlier study with autistic persons.

The article states that:

“The abil­i­ty to ‘read the mind’ of oth­er in­di­vid­u­al, that is, to in­fer their men­tal state by in­ter­pret­ing sub­tle so­cial cues, is in­dis­pen­sa­ble in hu­man so­cial in­ter­ac­tion...”

The above quote (in context) clearly implies that autistic individuals are highly impaired in their ability to read various social cues, having a deficiency of this hormone, etc. Yet this assertion stand in contrasts to a study from three years ago involving autistic persons’ abilities to discern ‘truthfulness’ in others, i.e., it was found that autistic persons were far more likely (60 + %) to accurately determine who, in a series of examples, was ‘telling the truth, and who was lying’. The researchers believed that this was due to the enhanced ability of autistic persons to focus in on minute and subtle visual cues (or ‘tells’) that others missed.

Regrettably, I am not able to quote/reference this study in more detail, as a report which I saved is on an old, failed hard drive, and currently, not recoverable.

I thus suspect strongly that the impairments of autism are not reducible to oxytocin deficiency alone, nor is the discernment of emotional states from ‘social cues’ the only means people have for ‘mind reading’ others.

Suffice it to say that autism is a complex condition, and that the autistic mind continues to mystify scientists with its altered, and sometimes enhanced, abilities.

From Charles Sifers:

Re: Surprises in comet dust (Dec. 14): I was not surprised to see the findings from comet Wild 2. Nor was I surprised to see that those studying it have continued to follow a failed paradigm. The fact that there were a great abundance of near Sol particles is exactly what is predicted by James McCanney’s Plasma Discharge Comet Model. In fact, everything we have learned with our close encounters with comets has been predicted by Mr McCanney’s theories (www.jmccanneyscience.com). Isn’t it time to admit that we have been wrong, and stop wasting time and resources following an incorrect hypothesis? Science should not be a religion based on dogma. The truth is available and I would think any true scientist would be more interested in the truth than reinforcing a construct that simply supports the current power structure. Please make yourself aware of Mr. McCanney’s work, and consider the possibility of stepping out of the herd and actually bringing new ideas to light.

From David Barclay:

Re: NASA announces lunar base plan (Dec. 4): This plan to build a manned base on the moon and utilize the existing resources on the moon for this purpose has one small flaw: we do not have a method by which to achieve a uniform access to the lunar environment. Therefore the idea of utilizing lunar resources to supplement a manned base puts the mission crew at risk, in relation to the affects of non-uniformity associated with the lunar environment. For example; any water or moisture extracted from the lunar environment cannot be safely ingested as it is out of sync with the relative condition of the crew members bodies. The moon is a field within the field of the earth and our astronauts are in sync with the field of the earth and not the field of the moon.... two completely different systems. Even a prolonged stay on the moon could have adverse physiological effects. So what’s the deal here, is NASA simply going to ignore the problem until it causes an injury or death or are they going to deal with it and resolve the problem before they start construction on the moon.

From Jhug hes0 67 @ao l.com:

Re: NASA announces lunar base plan (Dec. 4): This project should have been developed ahead of or instead of the current space station. It surely would have been more economical to add on to the moon rather than build the whole orbiting platform.