This Blog Is Over

This blog is over. I’ll be taking it down soon. My ambitions outstripped my skills. For a professional type blog, versus just a ‘what I’m up to’ blog, you really need rather good journalism skills. Both in writing and researching. And oh yeah it takes a huge time commitment.  So I’m going to spend my time on actual work pursuits now. Bye-bye.


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Supporters of the BDS movement don’t really care about the Palestinians

I been saying all of these things in my head during newscasts for the last several years. Thanks to lough try for articulating them so well.

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Clapping Ban, Suffering and the Left

This is a response to Glosswitch’s post, re-blogged on this blog, about The National Union of Students in Britain who at their women’s conference have decided apparently to ban clapping. And replace it with ‘jazz hands’. Because clapping is considered “triggering”. I’m not sure where the triggering nomenclature came from but now it is associated either with PTSD, or in this case some fake left-wing version of PTSD that has been pressed into service as some fake left-wing issue. As distinct from real left-wing issues which are important. Y’know more political correctness. One of the main purposes of political correctness I hope we all understand by now, is to empower the Scoldocracy. People who want to supervise and nitpick other peoples everyday conduct and try to convince us that this is somehow a really important left wing thing. This, nitpicking and scolding, will change society. And of course it won’t.

I have a special take on the banning of clapping and replacing it with ‘jazz hands’, which Glosswitch ablely dismantles. If this is being presented as a measure to help people with PTSD then first off it’s just weird. Clapping? Presumably clapping is thought to be triggering of PTSD because it is noisy. Or because it is loud? These are two different things. I’m well up on all the nuances of sound experience. Because I have a neurological condition, part of brain injury with its vast smorgasbord of effects, where perfectly ordinary sounds are excruciatingly painful for me. It’s called idiotically, ‘hyperacusis’. It should be called audio-algesia ie, ‘sound pain’. I don’t have the eloquence to express how truly horrible this medical condition is. It is severe. If my other neurological impairments didn’t run my life then this alone would. I wear ear plugs 24 hours a day. (Different ones at night than in the daytime. It has its own complexities.) So I know a little something about noise being disturbing.

Which brings us back to the fake do-gooders of the clapping ban. As Glosswitch says it’s about ‘safe spaces’:

“That’s a safe space for you: somewhere with arbitrary rules that self-styled experts in the ways of anxiety impose at will. It seems to me far more about control and manipulation than comfort or respect.”

Indeed. Arbitrary as in people trying to fake you out and convince you you’ve done something wrong. But also arbitrary in that it addresses one real or supposed problem that some people have and ignores all the other problems. In other words I have this horrible hyperacusis thing, I wear my earplugs, I stay away from certain kinds of noises. Like a basketball bouncing. Oh my god it’s horrible. That are triggering in me of, wait for it, actual seizures. Very small ones. But also very painful. And knowing that any of this can happen to me when I go out of my home (plus also in my home viz renovations in an apartment building) is quite anxiety inducing in me. But no weird fake left-wing British University types are doing anything for me. Don’t get me wrong I don’t expect them to. My point is that looking at this from my perspective you can see how silly and half assed it is. In addition to glosswitch’s point about it being manipulative and about power not about helping. Jazz hands instead of clapping at some event, if I were to be able to go to such a thing, would be absolutely fan-fucking-tastic for me. Much more so than for lots of people with PTSD, because PTSD isn’t hyperacusis. People who have PTSD vary in whether or not loud noises have a negative effect on them. ‘Loud noises and PTSD’ is like some kind of bad TV drama stereotype. Like ‘autism and genius abilities’! Also it’s soldiers who have been in war. Because wars are noisy. Mind you the noise, I’m pretty damn sure isn’t clapping.

Which brings us to the more important question which is what the hell? Why are people presenting dopey stuff like this that is so half assed and underinformed as if this were some kind of left/progressive thing? Left-wing and progressive stuff has its own specific character. How’d this rubbish even get out of the gate? Real left-wing stuff is about inequality. And about suffering. Suffering people, social institutions that cause suffering very often via prejudice, and social institutions that neglect the suffering that people are going through. All different kinds of suffering. Physical illness kind to. Mental illness kind. Poverty and its desperation. The left needs to get back on an even keel. If you have some ideas in your head that you think are political but you’re not quite sure, ask yourself about suffering.

The 19 century socialists started with that. The feminists who criticize reactionary social norms in Third World countries start with that. Gay-rights activists who reach out from first world countries to third world ones start with that. Don’t worry about esoteric formulizations. Start with suffering. Who is suffering, what can society/government do about it, why aren’t we doing it.

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Whose safe space?

Strange things are happening in British universities. This one is about an onslaught of UltraLeftism. Critiqued by an excellent feminist blogger.


I grew up in a household in which there were a lot of rules. Not just the usual ones – don’t fight, brush your teeth, do your homework. There were others: don’t nudge the furniture “off position.” Don’t touch the newspapers or remote control. Don’t unlock the back door. Don’t do anything that makes me feel unsafe. These rules were subject to change without notice. If you broke them, the consequences were severe. Tantrums, shouting, worse. Sometimes you’d end up barricading yourself in your room, wishing you’d just not bothered to move at all. It was unbearable. But then again, if someone is anxious and says they feel unsafe, what can you do? Especially if their anxiety is presented as unknowable and resistant to change. You have to do what they want, regardless of your own desires.

After all, how hard can it be not to touch a newspaper? Not…

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36 Flavors, Charlevoix Michigan 1970

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “32 Flavors.”

I think it was 36. Strip mall at the bottom of the hill. BEST toy store! Expensive. So we had to get the cheaper toys and they were always disappointing. (Micro-Kiddle princess who later lost her hair in a Togl Blok and wading pool accident. And some psychedelic goo that you put on a tube and blew bubbles which then became tissue paper textured.) Yet I still remember it as the BEST toy store. I do not know how they had 36 flavors at the ice cream place. They must’ve filled it out with sherbet. I remember being disgusted by bubblegum ice cream. We went there after the Tooth Episode.

Baby teeth/milk teeth dissolve. The roots do, that’s how they come out. So what I remember as my very last tooth that fell out ever, only dissolved down one side. Leaving the rest of the route as a scraggly edged dagger stabbing into my gum. It bled. Undetected, all evening and just made my mouth taste weird. It bled that night all over my pillow. My mother, who in every other aspect of her mother activity was an abusive monster, looked in on me and discovered this bloody mess. I remember the hydrogen peroxide on the small pillow case of the crib pillow I still slept with foaming up and going hot. That was pretty cool. So was getting to eat ice cream, butter pecan, as we prepared to go to the emergency room in Charlevoix. The ice cream was supposed to slow the bleeding.

Charlevoix was usually for laundry, groceries, toy store, fishpond. In the middle of Charlevoix there’s a park. It runs alongside the docks where people’s cabin cruisers are tied up. You could walk up and down and look at the boats and their amusing names. In the park there was a big lumpy brick structure. Inside the walls were smooth and light blue. It was full of water and fish swimming around. This was northern Michigan so plain old ordinary trout. Possibly speckled. When I was a kid in the 60s and 70s showing fish to children was a near universal family entertainment activity. They weren’t even special fish. They were real small. There were some in a fountain on the campus at Purdue. I remember as a toddler being shown those fish. When you’re brought to the university again as a toddler you’re shown the fish again. And you respond: fishie! The trip to the emergency room was way less fun. The ER doctor pulled my tooth and stuffed it with gauze. I didn’t know what gauze was. So when my tongue accidentally wandered to it and felt it’s wet creepy texture I thought that was my tattered flesh. Ew. Even now it creeps me out. On the way out of Charlevoix we stopped at the 36 flavors. I didn’t get to have ice cream though. I got a fast food cup of cola with ice that I sucked on and tried to keep my tongue away from the creepy “gauze”.


03/17/2015 · 7:38 pm

QotD: “Why are Women Devouring Fifty Shades of Grey?”

What’so up with this 50 Shades of Grey crap? (Not to mention the repellent but also incompetently written Outlander.) I think this post hits the nail on the depressing head.

Anti-Porn Feminists

While much of the sex in Fifty Shades is as cruel and sadistic as in mainstream porn, it is expertly packaged for women who want a “fairy tale” ending. In male-targeted porn, the woman is interesting only for as long as the sex lasts. Once done with her, the man is onto the next, and the next, and the next. … She is disposable, interchangeable, and easily replaced. No happy ending here for women.

In Fifty Shades, however, the naïve, immature, bland Anastasia is, for some unfathomable reason, the most compelling woman our rich, sadistic, narcissistic hero has ever met, and he not only kisses her during sex (something you rarely see in Internet hardcore porn) but he doesn’t move on to the next conquest once he has had his wicked way with her. In fact, he actually marries her and confesses undying love. As one of the female fans…

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Guess What? I’m Not A Fan Of fMRI

Let’s not reify visuals:


Visual cliche can so strongly influence us.


We associate some imagery with our professional identity.


And that can mislead us.





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Filed under Brain science, false knowledge, fMRI, Neurophysiology, Reification

Vaccines work. Here are the facts

This is phenomenal. The last word on vaccines and the anti-fax movement. It explains everything and does it with cartoons. All anybody’s questions answered. Read it. Tweet it. Paste it.

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None Of This Is True: Pop Medicine


In the spirit of this blog’s previous incarnation as Medical False Knowledge I want to talk about two dismaying stories on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The CBC got caught up in ‘pop medicine’ like a pant leg caught in a bicycle chain. The first was an episode of The Nature of Things on heart attacks. It did well on how the cholesterol hypothesis has died. (It has. The question is what comes next. I’ll probably have something about that in the future.) But the rest of the episode which had some jokey cartoon graphics (the heart attack cause “suspects” pictured as criminals in a lineup) proceeded to seek out a ‘single simple chemical’ cause of heart attacks. This startled me because I have an internal medicine textbook, Harrison’s, from 2004 that describes heart attacks is being caused by plaques. Plaques are hardened areas inside of arteries with hunks of stuff sticking to them. Plaques have anatomy. According to Harrison’s the stuff on the plaque breaks off and flows downstream blocking the artery. Or by the accumulated stuff of the plaque causing blood clots to form. Which break off and float downstream, etc. Anywhere your blood flow slows down too much clots start to form. But here’s the really creepy part, Harrison’s said that plaques are formed by cells from one layer of muscle tissue, your blood vessels are made of muscle tissue, migrating into the lining layer. The lining layer is really thin like, I don’t know, wet Kleenex. Whereas the muscle layer is made of you, know, muscle. So when these muscle cells go into the lining layer they make it all stiff. That’s the beginning of the plaque. They also I believe bugger up the surface and cause blood clots to start to form. There’s another process I know of involving cholesterol. Cholesterol is a chemical that does lots of vital things in the body. Including making steroid hormones. It gets inserted into the inside of these wet Kleenex type lining cells. And then a chemical comes along and takes it out again. We have no idea why. If the chemical doesn’t come along and take it out again the cell gets fatter, and starts to fill in the hollow part of the artery. That’s narrowing of an artery like people have bypass surgery for. None of this was in The Nature of Things show about how heart attacks happen. Though the show was being presented as the big new insights into heart attacks. But was pop medicine. Which is, among other things, all those stories on the news with the Headless Giant Tummy People or telling you What Not To Eat. The “medicine” in pop medicine stories is never about what real diseases are like. It’s about how to avoid some disease (usually heart disease) and by fiddling with what you eat. Sometimes “exercise” of some indeterminant sort is thrown in. Now we even have meta pop medicine stories about how the fiddling with what you eat stories disagree with each other! The point is this stuff is crap. No news outlet should do it. Including the CBC and certainly not on The Nature of Things.

The CBC show Marketplace, which is an often excellent consumer affairs show, had a pop medicine story too. They went after sodium again. THE new pop medicine bogeyman and one Marketplace already sullied itself with in May 2013. Both stories claimed that certain diseases and medical conditions are caused by excessive sodium intake. Now to be fair Health Canada actually puts out guidelines on how much sodium intake/eating per day is “too much”. I have no idea how they would get a number like that. Our bodies turf out all the sodium we don’t need. It’s one of the main activities of the kidneys. It totally works. Unless you have a particular kidney disease. If not, we can eat huge amounts of sodium and it will not hurt us. Interesting fact, some of the diseases they claim are caused by sodium aren’t even diseases. High blood pressure. Kidney stones. Obesity. It’s not biologically possible for high sodium intake to cause kidney stones or obesity. (Obesity?) No matter how goddamn high it is. On the show the person presenting this Diseases It Causes information was, wait for it, a nutritionist. Interesting thing: a nutritionist isn’t a doctor. In the 2013 story they had a doctor. But he specialized in quitting smoking. As you’ll recall an intrinsic element of pop medicine is fiddling with what you eat to prevent some disease. 1) that’s not how medicine works. Medicine starts with diseases and tries to find out everything about them that is relevant. Not just everything about them that is food related. 2) having a doctor on your consumer affairs show say a bunch of crazy ass stuff (food, disease, prevent) does not make it medical and scientific and okay. It just means you found a screwball doctor. Or in the case of this story, nutritionist. The message for journalists is: don’t do pop medicine stories. Real medical stories are about diseases or about medical fuck ups or things our medical system needs to do or about new treatments. On the latter the journalists are always being manipulated though.
The context in which they were going after sodium was breakfast sandwiches, like Egg McMuffins. They also felt it was important to pitch a fit about the number of calories in each of the different fast food chains brekkie sandwich. The high one which the presenter affected to be appalled by it was 500 cal. For breakfast. If normal caloric intake is said to be 2000 cal per day, or more, then unless you’re eating four meals a day it seems to me 500 cal for breakfast is actually a little low. Although the show was happy to quote Health Canada’s nutty maximum sodium number they didn’t manage to present any number for daily caloric intake. Apparently we’re just supposed to think every bit of food we eat should be the lowest number of calories it could possibly be. I call that the anorexic mindset. And it’s really not appropriate that a consumer affairs show try to teach us that.

In short pop medicine stories are terrible and bad and medicine is not a toy for journalists. If the news, especially on TV, is going to have anything about medicine they need to vet it way, way better than anything else they tell us about, short of an evacuation order. Pop medicine stories usually feature food. But that doesn’t make ’em food stories. If you talk about diseases it’s medicine. Do it right.

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Filed under false knowledge, Heart Attacks, Medicine, News, News stupidity, Pop Medicine, Sodium

This Blog Is Under Construction


I changed the name of this blog from Medical False Knowledge to The Brain Science Critic a couple months ago and am retooling it. There have been nothing but delays since then. First I was sick, then I was cutting the cable and had to get a new TV… And of course the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Funny how a massacre, even that one is not directly involved in, can alter your schedule. So in the meantime I have been re-blogging. I think you’ll find them very interesting although they’re not about brain science. My brain science critique is coming. The plan is to take my time, and to write it up in proper little essays. I take up all the issues, methodological and conceptual, that I and I know many others find problematic in brain science today. (Whether you call it neuro this neuro that.)

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