Bad neuroscience coverage in newspapers criticized

On Wednesday, a second piece of spurious, brain-based punditry made its way into the opinion pages of a major newspaper. This time it’s an essay in the Los Angeles Times from psychiatrist and self-help guru Daniel G. Amen, a medical maverick who runs a chain of private brain-scanning facilities across the country. Amen doesn’t want to read the minds of swing voters; he wants to study the candidates themselves.


The proposal is doubly outlandish: first, for asserting that it’s possible to distinguish a tyrant from a peacemaker-or a philanderer from a loving spouse-on the basis of a few single photon emission computed tomography scans; and second, for suggesting that we might want to use this putative ability to make a priori judgments about anyone. (What if one of our presidential candidates turned out to have a Hitler brain-would we throw him in precautionary lockup?) Amen isn’t indulging in Swiftian irony, either. He truly believes that brain scans can predict behavior and that it’s a good idea to screen the general population for neuropathology: “I’m just always looking for the perfect brain,” he recently told the Sacramento Bee. “If I date someone long enough, they get scanned.”

Full Story: Slate.

Previous coverage on Slate.

(all via Hit and Run).

MDMA medical research article in Washington Post

Post-traumatic stress disorder had destroyed Donna Kilgore’s life. Then experimental therapy with MDMA, a psychedelic drug better known as ecstasy, showed her a way out. Was it a fluke — or the future?


But there is something more at work inside her, something growing from the little white capsule she swallowed just minutes ago. She’s subject No. 1 in a historic experiment, the first U.S. government-sanctioned research in two decades into the potential of psychedelic drugs to treat psychiatric disorders. This 2004 session in the office of a Charleston, S.C., psychiatrist is being recorded on audiocassettes, which Donna will later hand to a journalist.

Full Story: Washington Post.

(via Hit and Run).

50 years after his death, supporters promote Wilhelm Reich’s work

“It was 50 years ago that physician-scientist Wilhelm Reich, best known for his discovery of a purported cosmic life force associated with sexual orgasm, died in federal prison, his books burned and his equipment destroyed by the government.

Ridiculed at the time, the European-born psychiatrist is today largely forgotten and his work on what he called orgone energy remains outside the scientific mainstream. But a small number of scientists and other believers are working to advance his studies — and resurrect his reputation. “Personally, I think it’s going to be a long time before all of his work is understood and recognized,” said Reich’s granddaughter, Renata Reich Moise, a nurse-midwife and artist in the coastal town of Hancock.

Also this month, archives comprised of nearly 300 boxes of Reich’s unpublished papers that were placed in storage at the Countway Library at Harvard Medical School will become available to researchers for the first time. Before going to prison, Reich directed in his will that the scientific papers, journals and diaries only be opened 50 years after his death. He also specified that his laboratory at the 175-acre site he dubbed Orgonon that overlooks Rangeley Lake be converted to a museum.”

link- Boston.com

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