Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Business of Intelligence

A report from Science Daily highlights the problems of modern intelligence research:
ScienceDaily (2010-10-30) -- General intelligence is not enough. Practical intelligence can mean the difference between entrepreneurial success or failure. Psychologists have identified multiple kinds of intelligence, but a new study has found one -- practical intelligence -- to be an indicator of likely entrepreneurial success.
Charles Spearman created the concept of the "g factor", a general intelligence that underlies the styles of intelligence measured in iq tests. I'll stay away from the whole issue of iq tests, I have two professional friends with a behaviorist orientation and they seem to hate IQ concept with a vengeance. I think I know what they are getting at but I still maintain that IQ as a metric is fine but has a theoretical construct or as data for the same it is useless. The history of the debate about IQ is in itself instructive that when dealing with the question of intelligence we are still very much in the dark. At the end of this post I will reference a research item that demonstrates we may have absolutely no idea about the true basis of intelligence.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Dark Side of the Fish Oil component, DHA

This news release contains some very worrying information ...

"We found that mice developed deadly, late-stage colon cancer when given high doses of fish oil," she said. "More importantly, with the increased inflammation, it only took four weeks for the tumors to develop."

The results do not surprise me because I have long known that DHA can induce inflammation and in this study inflammation was very present in the gut tissue of the organisms. So for the last few years I have been warning people about the dangers of high fish oil intake, though I suspect most thought I was balmy for making such warnings. But hey, I actually read stuff! 

In relation to fish oil a large Australian study recently found no benefit for babes or mums who were taking DHA during pregnancy. No improvement in babe health and no reduction in post partum depression. What I don't understand is the empahsis on DHA, the emphasis should be on EPA because of its direct modulation of the prostaglandin pathways. 

I realise this is all very frustrating for health conscious people and can offer no easy solutions. The methodology I use to examine biomedical data is time and memory consuming, it takes a lot of work and a lot of memorisation. That is easy for me because I have time on my hands and a bloody good memory. For most people it simply is not possible to read the relevant literature and discern good health advice, especially in a world where there are so many "health experts" offering easy solutions! 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Unquantified Placebo Effect

Upon viewing the Headline - No Standard for the Placebo? I had hoped for something more in line with my current interests. Alas no, the news item relates to how the placebo pill contents are rarely published and may have important bearing on experimental results. I was off on a completely different tangent, wondering about the variability of the placebo response and the implications this has for interpreting clinical trial results. Turns out it is rather variable.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More Glory For Open Access Scientific Publishing

Open Access Publishing is where researchers can submit their results to an Open Access Journal, such as found on Biomedcentral, and is freely available to everyone. This study highlights how open access publishing is promoting increasing citation of studies. Makes sense, especially in an age where there is so much like research(wasteful duplication?). So why pay exorbitant fees for download a paper when you can go to an open access site to find similiar if not identical findings? It is not uncommon to look for a paper, land on a journal website, only to be advised you can download the paper for $30 USD for 7 days viewing. That is a ripoff.

Open access publishing began about a decade ago and is becoming increasingly popular. That, together with the rise of sites like Scientific Blogging and Science Blogs, allows the average person much greater access to scientific research and scientists. So I imagine the life of the science writer is becoming increasingly difficult.

The major reason open access publishing took off is because journal publishers were charging outrageous fees for publishing the work of scientists, even going so far on occasion as to charge scientists for publishing their research, and then making very fat profits from journal sales. So I imagine there are many publishers who hate these sites BiomedcentralHighwire Press, and PLOS.

Patrick Lockerby: October Arctic Ice Update

Patrick provides extensive analysis and nice graphics to keep us informed of Arctic Ice movements.

Product Warning - MMS and alkalinity

This product, MMS, touted as a cure of everything from AIDS to cancer, is dangerous. (The product warning can be found here.) It equates to eating bleach. Relates to the idea that alkalinity is the key to killing cancer. Which is odd because I've read abstracts showing how alkalinity definitely helps some cancers survive. But there is no point looking at scientifically derived information because as Deepak Chopra would say, "that is based on Newtonian Mechanics, we're into Quantum Healing now". High school chemistry is sufficient, you don't have to be Quantumy to deal with this.

If your pH ranges are skewing there is something wrong with your diet. If you have to keep taking something to restore your pH values then you are potentially masking a serious illness. It may even be the case that your body is shifting the pH towards more acidic or alkaline for a specific reason. pH values may well vary throughout the day. For example, one study on retina found pH values ranging from 7.0 - 7.8. This circadian dependent shifting of pH values is entirely consistent with circadian dynamics in general. Life abhors stillness, our bodies and cells are typically in constant flux. It is as if it is easier to maintain a dynamic system that it is cycling through various phases rather than static. Perhaps not so surprising when you have feedback loops that directly impinge on other feedback loops. In that scenario perhaps it is impossible to obtain a "steady state". On the other hand, do "steady states" ever exist? Now if you'll excuse me, Bodhidharma is seeking my advice regarding a severed finger ... . 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dancing at the End of Time

"If you're standing on thin ice you may as well dance."

Steven Cummings, Australian Singer

You have to wonder about the unbounded optimism of our political leaders. At present there is yet another big meeting, this time in Japan, to try and find strategies to prevent the further transformation of the environment. Dreamers, silly little dreamers. Too late, that boat has sailed and was last seen wallowing in the horse latitudes.

Eco transformation is happening now. Even by Greenie logic it must be conceded that we have introduced so much novelty into the "web of life" that we must have irretrievably perturbed the "balance of nature" and so have inexorably set in train processes which will entail a eco-transformation that we will neither be able to predict or control.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Remarkable Anti-Inflammatory diet

You can download the press release here. This is a startlingly good result, so good I want to see it followed up. It could be too good to be true or wonderful.

The results in brief ...

The results show that the food portfolio significantly reduced inflammation. Furthermore, LDL-cholesterol was reduced by 33%, blood triglycerides by 14%, blood pressure by 8 % and a thrombotic risk factor by 26 %. In addition, the subjects’ cognitive functions were improved after the food portfolio compared with the reference food.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Enjoy Airline Food - Wear Ear Plugs

This news item from Physorg throws some light on the complexity of tasting. We might think it is just about taste buds and smell. Think again, our senses are not as separate as we are inclined to believe.

Professor Holick on Vitamin D

This news link from Physorg has an interview with the man who kept promoting vitamin D when everyone else thought the sun was enough.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Price of Freedom


“This is an extraordinary and alarming result,” said Busby, a professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Ulster and director of scientific research for Green Audit, an independent environmental research group. “To produce an effect like this, some very major mutagenic exposure must have occurred in 2004 when the attacks happened. We need urgently to find out what the agent was. Although many suspect uranium, we cannot be certain without further research and independent analysis of samples from the area.”
Busby told an Italian television news station, RAI 24, that the “extraordinary” increase in radiation-related maladies in Fallujah is higher than that found in the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the US atomic strikes of 1945. “My guess is that this was caused by depleted uranium,” he said. “They must be connected.”

Cannabis, Schizophrenia, Cognition, and Autoimmunity

When I was writing up the earlier piece last night I came across some searches from Norml, the rabidly pro marijuana organisation. The search page had the extract - schizophrenics have improved cognition if smoking pot. At the time I dismissed it but today I realised I was being silly, there is a very good neuroimmunological explanation for why cannabinoids can be helping schizophrenics.

"Spontaneous recovery" in schizophrenia

I just found this article from the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 2007. This statement is striking ...

Patients with schizophrenia who had removed themselves or been removed from antipsychotic medications showed significantly better global functioning and outcome than those still being treated with antipsychotics. Detailed analyses of those patients with schizophrenia on antipsychotic medications versus those not on medications at the 15-year follow-ups also were conducted. These analyses indicated that in addition to the significant differences in global functioning between these groups, 19 of the 23 schizophrenia patients (83%) with uniformly poor outcome at the 15-year follow-ups were on antipsychotic medications.
Not good, not at all. Lots of issues involved here, especially that the possibility that those who go off medication did not have such a severe condition. Much more worryingly though is that those on medication generally declined in function, whereas those on medication had a much greater chance of improvement.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Do Neuroleptics Increase an Aberrant Neurodegenerative Autoimmune Response?

Long, 2250 words, difficult, give yourself a chance. My conclusion is that the current approach to treating schizophrenia could very well be inducing neurodegeneration through an autoimmune mediated pathology. I examine this from the perspective of heat shock proteins, autoimmunity, and neuroimmunology. This raises very serious questions about the current emphasis on "pre treating" so called "pre-psychotic" individuals.

This recent news item caught my interest because it relates to a set of immune cells that play a cardinal role in autoimmunity and cancer prevention. The news item addresses gamma delta T cells, a set of T cells that respond to one of the most abundantly expressed stress proteins in our body, heat shock protein 60. This protein is very strongly associated with autoimmunity. While autoimmunity is typically associated with pathology it plays a fundamental role in our health by eliminating dangerous cells that could become cancerous or induce the release inflammatory mediators that initiate tissue damage.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Good News on Saturated Fat

Must be that time of year when all the long held myths concerning health and nutrition are held up for scrutiny. About time, many people believe that saturated fat is bad. That is bollocks. You need saturated fat. This obsession with the terror of saturated fat is what drove many people to avoid eggs and dairy products. This in spite of good literature showing that eggs are an excellent food and FULL FAT dairy is good for you, albeit keeping in mind total fat intake and the balance of fatty acid intake.

Thus, from the news article ...
A recent meta-analysis of epidemiological and intervention studies of milk fat conducted by Peter Elwood, DSc, MD, FRCP, FFPHM, DUniv, Hon DSc, Honorary Professor at the School of Medicine, Cardiff University, found that milk and dairy consumption actually was associated with a decrease in CVD risk.
The above has been known for years. What many people don't realise is that dairy products contain a very beneficial fatty acid - conjugated linoleic acid.

Cannabis and Memory Loss

This finding from the British Journal of Psychiatry is very consistent with the known pharmacology of THC. It is found that the higher the THC content, the greater the memory loss. Modern breeds of marijuana undoubtedly have higher THC content, though this increase is greatly exaggerated by the authorities.

This modern change in the ratios of THC to CBD probably explains the rise in cannabis associated psychosis. This recent research piece, a nice piece of work, highlights the differing roles.