Friday, November 28, 2014

Pharrell's observation on Ferguson


http://www.dailydot.com/technology/police-body-cam-ferguson/?fb=dd

As this article argues, at the very minimum body cameras should be worn by the police. They will definitely help to dilute the cops' confrontational mode which is highly toxic to aggressive young black males.


More important I think is to follow up on Pharrell's astute comment in Ebony. This means getting a better understanding of the biosocial variables in the inner city.

Michael Brown was at a convenience store stealing cigarillos before he was killed. But Pharrell says he was upset when he saw the way Brown was acting towards the owner.

“It looked very bully-ish,” he said. “That in itself I had a problem with. Not with the kid, but with whatever happened in his life for him to arrive at a place where that behavior is OK. Why aren’t we talking about that?” 

People quckly misread this to mean a criticism of Michael Brown when it is just the reverse. The fault lies with the community and family-- a particular kind of 
"cultureplace"  where nature and nurture intersect and produce probable outcomes. How do we mitigate certain dangerous situations?

Friday, November 14, 2014

More on national cultural differences affecting behavior


The case against labeling and medicating children, and effective alternatives for treating them

Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD

French children don't need medications to control their behavior.
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In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%. How come the epidemic of ADHD—which has become firmly established in the United States—has almost completely passed over children in France?

Is ADHD a biological-neurological disorder? Surprisingly, the answer to this question depends on whether you live in France or in the United States. In the United States, child psychiatrists consider ADHD to be a biological disorder with biological causes. The preferred treatment is also biological--psycho stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.

French child psychiatrists, on the other hand, view ADHD as a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes. Instead of treating children's focusing and behavioral problems withdrugs, French doctors prefer to look for the underlying issue that is causing the child distress—not in the child's brain but in the child's social context. They then choose to treat the underlying social context problem with psychotherapy or family counseling. This is a very different way of seeing things from the American tendency to attribute all symptoms to a biological dysfunction such as a chemical imbalance in the child's brain.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

A virus has been discovered that affects cognitive abilities in healthy people




THE INDEPENDENT


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/virus-that-makes-humans-more-stupid-discovered-9849920.html


A virus that infects human brains and makes us more stupid has been discovered, according to scientists in the US.

The algae virus, never before observed in healthy people, was found to affect cognitive functions including visual processing and spatial awareness. 

Scientists at Johns Hopkins Medical School and the University of Nebraska stumbled upon the discovery when they were undertaking an unrelated study into throat microbes.

Surprisingly, the researchers found DNA in the throats of healthy individuals that matched the DNA of a virus known to infect green algae.

Dr Robert Yolken, a virologist who led the original study, said: “This is a striking example showing that the ‘innocuous’ microorganisms we carry can affect behaviour and cognition.

“Many physiological differences between person A and person B are encoded in the set of genes each inherits from parents, yet some of these differences are fuelled by the various microorganisms we harbour and the way they interact with our genes.”

Of the 90 participants in the study, 40 tested positive for the algae virus. Those who tested positive performed worse on tests designed to measure the speed and accuracy of visual processing. They also achieved lower scores in tasks designed to measure attention.

Humans’ bodies contain trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Most are harmless, but the findings of this research show that there some microbes can have a detrimental impact on cognitive functions, while leaving individuals healthy.

The study’s findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Monday, November 03, 2014