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Context and Variation


Human behavior, evolutionary medicine… and ladybusiness.
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Link love: December 2012

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Some interesting, insightful, or amusing things I’ve been reading this week.

The DSM-V is out

I’m not a psychologist, but the DSM, or Diagnostic Systems Manual, is still important to my research, but as someone who teaches evolutionary medicine, most especially my teaching. I have been teaching the shift from the DSM-IV to DSM-V (excuse me, I guess it’s DSM-5 now)  for the past several years, with students doing a close reading of the proposed changes, or projects on some of the new diagnoses. It will be interesting this year to have a finalized document to talk about — as well as the reactions. Two of the main ones I’ll be assigning:

The DSM-5 has been finalized by Vaughan Bell. Bell summarizes the major changes — mostly I can’t believe they took out the bereavement clause for depression.

The New Tamper Tantrum Disorder by David Dobbs. A smart perspective on the pathologizing of normal behavior.

 

Grumble grumble

Why Do Women Leave Biology? This is the page for the press release of an article in BioScience, but it links to the pdf of the manuscript. Shelley Adamo takes a smart look at the factors that drive attrition of female scientists. She suggests that the factors that are blamed for fewer female scientists exist in medicine, but the same gender differences in attrition don’t exist. Adamo claims policy issues drive differences instead (for instance, mandated parental leave seems to reduce attrition in Canada but doesn’t exist in the US). I agree.

A week of a student’s electrodermal activity. Teachers, check out the activity during classes and when sleeping. Decide you’d probably be better napping during your own lecture after all.

How to Email a Professor over at WikiHow. Overall not bad advice. I find it interesting that in the how to address professors section, they tell you how bad it is to call a professor “Mr.,” but only say it’s bad to call a female professor (note professors are default-male) “Mrs.” Personally, I take issue with anything that isn’t Dr. or Prof. if I don’t know the student. Once I know the student, particularly if I advise them, Kate is fine.

Stop Saying That. A great blog post that points out the error of complaining that women should “put as much time and effort into researching their birth as they do researching their next smartphone.”

Sexist humor… leads to more sexism. In the same vein as “stop saying that,” stop permitting sexist humor in your workspace, your home, among your friends. Don’t be a silent witness, and be the guy who interrupts sexism. You don’t have to be obnoxious about it, but if you let it go, you’re telling your friends that being sexist is ok.

I Am the Woman in Your Department Who Does All the Committee Work at McSweeney’s. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry about this one.

 

Re-emerge from a tough week

Mouse research saves a little girl with leukemia. Because my husband is a two-time cancer survivor, with many of his treatments first being tested in animals, I am grateful to animal researchers every single day.

Your Holiday Mom. A blog that posts letters from parents who love and support LGBTQ kiddos. Have a tissue handy. Also, make it abundantly clear to anyone around you who needs to know it that you are a holiday mom, too, but with actions over words.

How do you pack your bag for a 7 year, 22,000 mile international reporting assignment? Journalist Salopek will walk the “out of Africa” route to South America. I highly recommend a few pairs of Ex Officio underwear — they last for years and you can wash and hang dry them overnight.

The flipped academic: turning higher education on its head. This article describes academics who are doing outreach or making their results available to the public before putting them in academic jargon-speak and up for peer review. Certainly an article that supports those of us that blog, but I didn’t see a clear way the flipped academic was going to push her university to consider her for tenure under that model. Also, why are we into “flipping” so much in academia right now (I’ve also read a few articles on “flipping” the classroom)? Why not call it “inverted” or “transparent” or “outreach-focused?”

And now my favorite post: Michael Eisen puts Darwin’s Tangled Bank in verse. Eisen wrote this poem because his daughter needed to recite a poem for school, and he wanted to give her something scientific and beautiful. He totally wins at parenting. Some day my daughter will learn this, too.

Kate Clancy About the Author: Dr. Kate Clancy is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois. She studies the evolutionary medicine of women’s reproductive physiology, and blogs about her field, the evolution of human behavior and issues for women in science. Find her comment policy here. Follow on Twitter @KateClancy.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. TonyMach 8:32 am 12/19/2012

    FYI regarding Major Depressive Disorder:
    Kathleen Light and Alan Light are doing some very interesting work with gene expression studies and they are currently researching a gene expression based blood test that can:
    a) identify MDD
    and
    b) identify CFS, *and* distinguish it from MDD (which is clinically a problem, with one being misdiagnosed for the other, and vice versa).

    So the “real” MDD (not the grieving kind) seems to have an organic base and I’m willing to bet “doughnuts to dollars” that it will turn out that MDD has a nutritional base (I’d bet either one or a combination of the following being the culprit: dairy from pasteurized milk, cereal grains or seed oil – we’ll see).

    And while we are at it (and possibly preaching to the converted): I won’t be the slightest bit surprised if some the “functional disorders”, “psychosomatic illnesses”, “somatoform disorders” and mental/psychiatric problems (e.g. anxiety) will turn out to have an organic/nutritional bases.

    We’ll see how this will play out, but I feel like the DSM-5 is step backwards, while at the same time we are seeing some paradigm changes in medicine showing their first blossoms.

    Link to this

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