Greg and Steve (not Adam and Eve) both blogged a recent paper by Degenhardt and (20 other) colleagues in PLoS Medicine.

According to a new survey the USA has highest level of illegal cocaine and cannabis use in the world. Thank goodness the War for Drugs is working so well! Ohh… wait… that’s the war ON drugs and it’s supposed to protect us from ourselves and our nasty drug habits.

Greg asks:

Does the observed age difference (younger cohorts with more drug use) reflect a reporting bias or a reality? It seems that over the last several decades the evidence that younger people are using more drugs is so often reported that all people must be using all drugs by now, but they aren’t! Do studies that show declines in drug use get less press, or go unfinished? (Is there a reporting bias or a confirmation bias at work here?)

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Readers of the old blog on WordPress will recall that I enlisted BikeMonkey to cover the sports-doping beat a time or two on the old blog. Today’s news pried him away from his political ranting commenting for a guest appearance. -DM

Dave Stoller: “Everybody cheats. I just didn’t know”.

BikeMonkey GuestPost

Professional cyclist Floyd Landis has lost his final appeal of his conviction for testosterone doping during the 2006 Tour de France. Most readers will be familiar with the backstory. If not, click the two prior links and then head on over to the trust but verify blog for the pro-Landis perspective.
I’m motivated to discuss this stuff not just because I follow professional cycling now and again; it has a lot of parallels with science misconduct.

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Now the PP’s been a little frisky this week. Gettin’ up the noses of the postdocs, Open Access Nozdrul (twice! although curiously not a bill nor a Bora in sight), dreamers who want lyrical masterpieces instead of geeky science articles. Not to mention the Care Bears fans.
So I’m going to let you in on a little hint on getting your own back. With no further delay…

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Are there any experimental scientists out there advocating for and using open notebooks? Not navel-gazing theoreticians that sit around drinking coffee and making shit up, but actual real scientists: people fucking with shit in a laboratory. Because frankly, “Open Notebook” sounds like the kind of batshit wackaloonery that people who don’t even know what a real lab notebook looks like would be propounding.

People are still going on about the completely absurd idea of “opening” working lab notebooks by publishing them on the Web?
Who the fuck wants to read someone else’s lab notebook? I want to see digested, processed, analyzed data, with bad experiments thrown out. Maybe bloggers have the time to wade through the piles of shit in other people’s lab notebooks to find the meaningful nuggets, but working scientists do not.
And if we are talking about publishing curated, analyzed datasets on the Web independently of peer-reviewed publication, well this ain’t a “notebook”, and calling it “Open Notebook” is fucking stupid.

Jonah Leherer has an interesting post up at The Frontal Cortex in which he discusses the very stereotyped structure of a scientific research article:

The vast, vast majority of science articles follow the same basic pattern: abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion. * * * There are no stories, no narrative, no amusing anecdotes. * * * Rather, there’s just line after line of jargon leaden prose in the passive tense.

Jonah is not particularly pleased by this:

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This is a followup to an older entry I recently reposted following a post from the Mad Hatter on alternate careers. I thought perhaps this was relevant to the ongoing discussion we’ve been having about postdoctoral views on the dismal prospects for transition to independence.

Still not done with the issue of nontraditional entries to independent research positions. “Independent” here being somewhat narrowly defined as the ability to submit and hold research grant funding (not just fellowships) as a Principal Investigator. I’ve been advocating postdocs to look beyond the traditional route to independence, i.e., applying for hard money salary, tenure track assistant professorships (with startup funds!) advertised halfway across the country. Physioprof is most familiar with the more traditional route to independence but is, I hope, being won over a bit. S/he asks:

Drugmonkey, if you personally have taken a “non-OldeSkool” route, would you mind summarizing your path?

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In a prior post on the post-submission care and feeding of your NIH grant application I touched on the submission of an update just prior to review:

You did know you can supply an update to your proposal after submitting it right? Well you can. Actually I’m surprised by how few applications I see on my section are updated, given that you submit the thing some three or four months before the review…The point is usually to update the preliminary data which you’ve continued to work on (right?).

The NIH has recently issued a Notice formalizing the “NIH Policy on Submission of Additional Grant Application Materials“.

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Academia, like many professional career enterprises in the United States, is structured in a winner-takes-all format. Many people enter the enterprise at the bottom level, trickle their way upwards, until a relative few make it to the top and enjoy the spoils of true scientific independence. This kind of system is common to academia, professional sports, law, medicine, performing arts, entertainment, comedy, business, entrepreneurialism, journalism, engineering, and most other professional career enterprises.

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Mad Hatter has a post up proposing a blog-based forum for alternative careers.

I noticed a long time ago that the top Google hits to this blog are on three posts I wrote on alternative career tracks in academia for PhD scientists*. I’ve also been contacted in real life by people at my institution who are interested in learning about my position and other non-traditional careers for PhDs. It seems that even though academia is becoming less hostile to alternative careers, there is still a dearth of open and honest discussion on a PhD scientist’s options outside of the academic tenure-track.

The post and the ensuing discussion reminded me of a couple of observations I had up on the old blog regarding perhaps not truly alternate careers, but alternate paths to the prize of independent, NIH-funded investigator. Today’s retread is on the importance of a grant writing position, regardless of academic title.

A couple of exchanges between YHN and PhysioProf in comments following a post at Galactic Interactions bear further examination. I’ve mentioned before that in the biomedical research career, the most important thing is to get a job which allows one to submit* independent research grants to the NIH. In other words, the ability to compete with your fellow scientists to fund the research you think is important. In my view, this is the essential place where you want to be, all else is gravy. Sometimes, perhaps frequently these days, that “job”may be different from the stereotypical tenure track assistant professorship with hard salary and startup package across the country from your current postdoc.

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A letter printed in the 20 June 2008 issue of Science magazine proposes an Oath of integrity, professionalism and ethical conduct for graduate students. The authors review the well known Hippocratic Oath which is one of the basic tenets of the medical profession:

The Hippocratic Oath, recited by medical school graduates worldwide, is arguably the best-known professional honor code. This centuries-old oath instills a commitment to altruism, professionalism, honesty, skill, knowledge, duty, loyalty, and fraternity among medical doctors.

Is it time for scientists to adopt something similar?

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2Figure 15b: Advanced emphysema in a
relatively young (36-year-old) woman with
a history of heavy cocaine abuse and unrelated
mitral valve disease. Chest CT scan reveals
diffuse advanced emphysema.

The latest news in the celebrity drug-abuse world is that Amy Winehouse’s dad has informed the press that she has early stage emphysema. Her publicist has also confirmed the report.

Although health problems related to drug abuse are nothing novel in the world of musical entertainment, emphysema in a 24-year old is unusual, to say the least.

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George Carlin Has Died

June 23, 2008

It is sad news that George Carlin has died. His mordant wit, disdain for bullshit, and penetrating insight into social and political wackaloonery have been an inspiration to many. Of course, he would have mocked the shit out of anyone who melodramatically mourned his passing.
Some of his best work pierced the conceits and deflated the overweening self-centeredness of those who mourn the deaths of public figures they never even met. He would be disgusted if his own death were subject to the kind of arrogant starfucking me! me! me! fake-ass public self-aggrandizing “mourning” garbaggio that Tim Russert’s death inspired.
Adios motherfucker!!

One of my agents passed along the link to BiomedExperts, the latest tool to geek away endless hours obsessing about your publications. Or, more precisely your cloud of scientific collaborators (and their collaborators….) linked through your co-authored publications.

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In a prior post on the clinical trials evaluating MDMA as a medication to be used in psychotherapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder I focused on the dose that was being administered. This is an interest of mine because it helps us to understand how the animal research might relate to human recreational and therapeutic use.

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