February 24, 2007

From R. Eisenman: Video games as perceived by Hispanic students

Re: Video games may boost surgery skill, tests find (Feb. 19): Video games can be seen negatively: as inducing lazy withdrawal from society or preventing exercise, or they can be seen positively: as improving skills. The article about surgical skills is a case in point where video games seem to sharpen perceptual and motor skills. Also, the U. S. military has used video games to teach soldiers how to fire weapons. I report here some data from Hispanic college students about video games. At the end, I suggest possibilities for future research.

Students at the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA), a Hispanic-serving university in Deep South Texas, near the Mexican border, participated in classroom discussions, regarding their playing and perceptions of video games. There were 200 students overall in this sample, in 5 sections of Introduction to Psychology, with about an equal number of males and females. UTPA has the largest number of Mexican-American college students of any university in the United States, and the second largest number of Hispanics, second only to Florida International University in Miami, Florida, which has many Cuban students, as well as many nonCuban Hispanics. While some commute from Mexico to attend UTPA, most come from the Rio Grande Valley section of Texas, which is about 88% Hispanic, the same percentage that UTPA has of Hispanic students. I tried not to count, for this study, any statements made by students who seemed to be clearly nonHispanic. While there may have been some nonHispanics students included, the overwhelming Hispanic nature of the classrooms, and my attempt not to include nonHispanic student comments makes it likely that most of the 200 students polled were Hispanic. The students were from five Introduction to Psychology classes, and participated in the discussions with their teacher, as part of the regular class activity. Introduction to Psychology contains a large cross-section of students at UTPA, since it is required for many different majors. As at most universities in the USA, most students in Introduction to Psychology are not psychology majors.

The teacher discussed video games with his class, and got a show of hands to obtain the percentages reported below. I was the teacher for all the classes. While this could induce a bias into the research, it also meant that I could make sure that the teacher, me, was doing the same thing in all five classes.

First, it was found that 50% of the students (100 students) initially admitted to playing video games. But when it was suggested that perhaps others had played although perhaps not on a regular basis, the percentage went up to 75%. Thus, 150 of the 200 students said they had played video games, with about 50% of all students playing on a fairly regular basis, according to discussions and show of hands.

Second, when asked if video games were often violent, initially only 40% (80 of the 200 students) initially said that they were often violent. They claimed that video games are nonviolent. But, after discussion, which included mention by several of violent games, the figure rose to 75% who felt that video games are often violent. This would seem to indicate rational thinking after others corrected the misperception about violence in video games, but since a public show of hands was used, it could also be interpreted as conformity to the majority vote. One way or the other, many thought of video games as nonviolent, but soon changed their minds after information was presented about violence in video games. Perhaps the initial denial of violence was at attempt to be socially acceptable. Or, perhaps the students truly failed to see the violence in some of the games they were playing.

Third, only 20% of the students, 40 students in all, thought that playing violent video games could lead to violence. Even after discussion, this increased only to 25%, or 50 students overall who said violent video games might lead to violence.

Future studies might employ different methodologies, such as having students answer anonymous questionnaires, or interviewing students individually, about video games. Also, it might be valuable to see if having the person in charge not be the students’ teacher changes the results.

The present results suggest that Hispanic college students underestimated violence in video games, but, when challenged, will recognize that video games are often violent. The present results also showed that 50% of Hispanic college students in this sample said they play video games on a regular basis (with regular not defined) while another 25% also play video games, although not as regularly. Thus, video games are an important part of the life of Hispanic college students. And, most do not perceive video games as leading to violence: only 20% did before discussion and 25% after discussion.

Other ethnic and racial groups could be studied, to see what their perceptions are about video games, and if video games have different levels of appeal to them. One could also look for sex differences, since certain kinds of games may appeal more to men than women, and vice versa. Sex difference in video games is an important topic that needs more study.

Russell Eisenman, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
University of Texas-Pan American
Edinburg, TX

From alpha _ome ga_alp ha@yah oo.dk:

Re: Plans for “Noah’s Ark” seed vault unveiled (Feb. 9): The idea of saving the crop seeds makes perfect logical sense.

The proposed site seems to somewhat temporary though. If scientists are correct about ice-ages not always being slow processes, but can also be rapid, surely the entire area would be under the ice-sheet, several kilometers thick.

Modern building techniques may be more advanced than previous eras, but I doubt sincerly that any structure would be able to withstand glacial pressures and movements.

Just a thought.

From Nicholas Dalton:

I am a science teacher and I have been exploring a problem that has been nagging at me for some time.

Current theory on matter formation is founded on two concepts: a “Force of Attraction” and a “Force of Charge”. However in over 150 years of research, the bests minds in the world have failed to discovered a satisfactory explanation for the actual physical mechanisms behind either of these two forces.

Einstein in fact theorized that Gravity was not a force of attraction at all, while the Standard Model proposes that a “force transfer particle” is responsible. But that simply adds a layer of complexity while still not providing any real, mechanical explanation for how the process actually works!

Doesn’t it seem strange to you that despite all our advances in the other areas of science, as well as computing, there is still no explanation for these forces?

Doesn’t it seem suspicious and rather precarious considering that vast amounts of research are optimistically based on these two complete unknowns?

The truth is that the only clearly understood mechanism known to science that can be mistaken for a force of “attraction” is an energy gradient (vacuums, osmosis etc)

I was so intrigued by this fact that I decided to develop a hypothetical Energy Gradient model just to see if it could be used to explain the world around us.

Admittedly this model is simple and takes some creative, though sound liberties, but it succeeds remarkably well.

And this hypothetical Gradient Model is especially interesting when it is used to model the atomic structures of the elements. They do not take the traditional spherical shape of the Bohr model. Instead they are three dimensional. But most significantly, their structures clearly reflect all the characteristics we know about those elements; valence, metal, nonmetal, conductivity, reactivity etc. I find that remarkable and quite beyond coincidence.

These structures even explain the strange 2, 8, 8, 10 Bohr orbital pattern that, for a growing sphere, should logically be 2, 8, 10, plus, ….

My question is this; considering that the forces of “attraction” and” charge” are so fundamental to modern theory, don’t you think that this very strange situation is worth examining?

Don’t you think that such a prolonged mystery is rather suspicious and deserves at least a little attention and discussion - especially if a hypothetical Gradient Model can be substituted with such surprising success?

Could it possibly be that “attraction” and “charge” are merely illusions created by an energy gradient?

This Gradient Model is currently an 88 page paper which can be found in PDF form at my web page www.daltonscience.com.

I would very much like to hear your opinion or advice.

From Michael Ricciardi:

Re: “Youth” pills, hawked online, win over top scientists (Feb. 9): Ah, would that there were a pill to make us REMEMBER the lessons of the past (as oppose to just returning to youthfulness). . .

Remember Durk Pearson and his ‘Life Extension’ science of nutrition--the 1980’s health craze that lead to millions of people taking ‘mega-dosages’ of of vitamin C (amongst other nutritional substances)?. . . Then in the late 1990’s and early 00’s we learn that mega-dosages of vitamin C result in an accumulation of ‘geno-toxins’ within our cells nuclei--causing potential damage to the DNA). . . . . . Yet, of course, vitamin C is crucial for a healthy existence. So, how could more of a vital thing be bad for you, right?

My Pearson is no doubt a highly intelligent person/academic (MIT professor, I believe). But highly intelligent people are not immune from ‘brain arrogance’ and the subtle, but culturally pervasive, commercial message that ‘more is better’.

Long before the discovery of resveratrol, studies were conducted that showed a modest (but significant) life extension benefit to moderate alcohol consumption (beer included), especially (surprise) red wines (these earlier studies did not naroow it down to Merlots). If memory serves me, the scientific recommendation for such alcohol consumption was “more than once a month but less than once per day” (i. e. , number of drinks). Clearly, that leaves much room for moderation.

I do not doubt that resveratrol has some health benefit (anti-oxidant activity), nor that some people will derive some psychological benefit from these pills, making one’s ‘outlook on life’ less worrisome.

But, the human body is an intricate and inexact machine; its ‘output’ does not equal the sum of its inputs.

From Dingo Discovery Centre:

Re: For some species, an upside to inbreeding (Feb. 5): The story on the inbred fish is similar to that for the Australian dingo. DNA sampling shows that all dingoes in Australia descend from a single female, maybe even pregnant on arrival in Australia some 5 - 10, 000 years ago. These wonderful animals have a social system to be marvelled at, and when it comes to parenting have no betters. Communal rearing of young, with non breeding females lactating and assisting with feeding and caring duties. Males nurturing and caring, regurgitating food, uncles babysitting. The list goes on. Strangers - canines not of the immediate family - are repelled.

Perhaps some interested scientist would care to undertake a study, but this would have to be in the very near future. NSW Govt. Gazette for October 06 shows that Govt Department has issued orders for 5 years aerial baiting with 1080 over the entire state, including National Parks, where previously dingoes have enjoyed protection. This will spell the extinction of the secies there, as well as the remaining states with similar regimes.

Dingo Discovery Centre
Toolern Vale, Victoria, Australia
web - http://clix.to/dingodiscoverycentre

February 19, 2007

From David Moskowitz, M.D.: ACE as “master” disease gene

A major medical story has been brewing for the past decade or so, but so far hasn’t been reported in the regular media.

The discovery involves a very well known enzyme called angiotensin I-converting enzyme, or ACE for short. ACE inhibitors have been used to lower blood pressure since the late 1970s, and are among the safest drugs used in medicine. An even safer class of drugs was marketed about 10 years ago, called angiotensin II receptor blockers, or “ARBs.” ACEI’s and, especially, their cousins, ARBs are considerably safer than aspirin, and are carried in every drugstore on earth. There are many drugs in each class. Some of the better ACEI’s are generic by now; the first ARB goes generic in 4 years.

It turns out ACE is a “master” disease gene, whose overactivity is associated with 3/4 of common diseases among Caucasians, and about 40% in African Americans.2

Thus inhibiting ACE, which has been possible since 1978, should delay most common diseases, and may add 5-10 years of lifespan. Not to mention cutting healthcare costs by keeping people out of hospital longer.

As just one corrollary, ACE inhibitors and ARBs may be a general viral antidote, useful against avian influenza as well as the common cold. Language describing this general approach to viral diseases was included in the Project BioShield II Act of 2005.8

It is the best possible thing that could have happened for global public health.

ACE inhibitors, when used at a high enough dose, have been able to reverse 90% of kidney failure.1 Case reports showing unexpectedly good results in sickle cell disease,7 COPD (emphysema1), West Nile virus encephalitis,5 psoriasis,5 and stage IV pancreatic cancer5 have also been published.

The angiotensin I-converting enzyme, discovered in 1950, is so called because it converts angiotensin I, a 10 amino acid peptide, into angiotensin II, an 8 amino acid peptide, by clipping off the terminal two amino acids.

References follow. 

1: Moskowitz DW. From pharmacogenomics to improved patient outcomes: angiotensin I-converting enzyme as an example. Diabetes Technol Ther. 2002;4(4):519-32. PMID: 12396747. (For PDF file, click on paper #1 at:
http://www.genomed.com/index.cfm?action=investor&drill=publications )

2: Moskowitz DW. Is angiotensin I-converting enzyme a “master” disease gene? Diabetes Technol Ther. 2002;4(5):683-711. PMID: 12458570 (For PDF file, click on paper #2 at:
http://www.genomed.com/index.cfm?action=investor&drill=publications );

3: Moskowitz DW. Is “somatic” angiotensin I-converting enzyme a mechanosensor? Diabetes Technol Ther. 2002;4(6):841-58. PMID: 12685804 (For PDF file, click on paper #3 at:
http://www.genomed.com/index.cfm?action=investor&drill=publications )

4: Moskowitz DW. Pathophysiologic implications of angiotensin I-converting enzyme as a mechanosensor: diabetes. Diabetes Technol Ther. 2003;5(2):189-99. PMID: 12871609 (For PDF file, click on paper #4 at:
http://www.genomed.com/index.cfm?action=investor&drill=publications )

5: Moskowitz DW, Johnson FE. The central role of angiotensin I-converting enzyme in vertebrate pathophysiology. Curr Top Med Chem. 2004;4(13):1433-54. PMID: 15379656 (For PDF file, click on paper #6 at:
http://www.genomed.com/index.cfm?action=investor&drill=publications )

6: Moskowitz DW. Acute oxygen-sensing mechanisms. N Engl J Med. 2006 Mar 2;354(9):975-7. PMID: 16510756 

7: Williams RM, Moskowitz DW. The prevention of pain from sickle cell disease using trandolapril. J Natl Med Assoc 2007 Mar (in press) 

8: Section 2151 of the Project BioShield II Act of April 28, 2005

David W. Moskowitz, MD, MA(Oxon.), FACP
Chairman, CEO & Chief Medical Officer
GenoMed, Inc.
"Our business is public health(TM)"
9666 Olive Blvd., Suite 310
St. Louis, MO 63132
website: www.genomed.com