Here is the text of a retraction of a molecular genetic study asserting that mutations in a voltage-gated chloride channel cause epilepsy:

Re-examination of the families and the molecular genetic data by a neurologist and a geneticist who were not involved in the original study has revealed major differences from the published data in two of the three published pedigrees (presented in Figs. 1a,b of the original publication). The number of clinically affected individuals was much lower than was previously reported, and large parts of the pedigree structures and epilepsy phenotypes are different. Most importantly, re-examination revealed the existence of several asymptomatic mutation carriers, refuting the complete co-segregation of the two mutations with the clinical phenotypes that was originally reported. A detailed description of these differences, including the clinical phenotypes and the genetic reanalysis, is provided in the related Correspondence in this issue1.
We sincerely regret our failure to recognize that important family data were false before the original manuscript was published, and we apologize for any inconvenience that may have arisen as a result of our report.
A. Heils did not agree to coauthor this retraction.

Did they fake the shit, or are they just fucking idiots? What’s the dealio with “A. Heils”? Did he/she fake the shit, is an idiot, or what?

Please welcome Small Hyde!

August 28, 2009

One of our dear blogfriends, Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde, indicates that Small Hyde has arrived!
Congrats to the JekyllHyde family, welcome Small Hyde and best of luck to all in the wonderful months to come.

Internet random walk had me returning to this post for some reason recently. It wasn’t Abel Pharmboy’s excellent post on the women in his life, although that is clearly related. I did have the thought “I’ve only written one post tagged with methamphetamine? Really?” at one point along the stroll. Anyway…..
This was originally posted on January 28, 2008.

It is not news to observe that child issues cause women scientists some considerable career anxiety. When to tell the lab or the PI that you are pregnant? Should you wait to start “trying” until after the job interviews? Until after tenure so as to be taken as a “serious” scientist? How many children are “allowable”? How many pictures of the little darlin’s can go over the bench? Should the “balance” of lab and child rearing be kept as opaque as possible from one’s lab?
In contrast men have a much greater ability to conceal their “dad”-ness from their labs. They should not do so.
The father/PI who is seriously concerned about gender equity in science will go out of his way to exhibit his status. If you agree, there is no need to read below the fold.

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First off, if you are not at least an occasional reader of Tetrapod Zoology, I don’t know how you could possibly live with yourself. Fossils and charismatic species galore.
Although I thought I’d heard it all, this recent entry introduces a whole ‘nother brand of nuts.

…philosopher David Pearce is honestly proposing that we should feel ethically compelled to eradicate all suffering and cruelty from the natural world in order to create a sort of global vegan paradise where predators don’t exist. Pearce terms this the Abolitionist Project (for more on Pearce and his ideas see this wikipedia article). His plans are, as discussed in depth on his website, theoretically plausible and involve such things as the use of brain implants, behaviour-modifying drugs, and genetic manipulation. Eventually, the lion will, literally, lie down with the lamb, hyaenas will not feel compelled to eat baby elephants alive, and – I presume – ladybirds will not eat aphids, and so on


Hi-larious ciggie ads

August 28, 2009

Click on over to for this collection of cigarette ads.


I often debate with myself whether displaying and discussing the antics of what are often the tiny minority* lunatic fringe of the discussion over the use of animals in research is a help or a hindrance. I am not going to suggest that I have any good answers but I have been helped in my thinking by a comment from Dr. Free-Ride about being unaware of the ARA antics and the subsequent impact on researchers until informed by the latter about their experiences. So for now, I have my meter slid a little bit over to the side of shining light on what the ARA wackaloons are up to.

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The American Heart Associations recommendation to cut down on dietary sugar is all over the news. Discussion of this by Isis the Scientist triggered a comment from Callinectes :

Someone reading this may therefore assume diet drinks with Aspartame, Splenda, etc. may be okay because it’s 0 calories and added “sugar”. Can anyone comment authoritatively on this? The way I see it, it’s still just empty calories and not very good for you when consumed regularly on a weekly or (heaven forbid) daily basis.

To which Isis responded:

One might argue that diet drinks still activate the “Hedonistic food pathways” in the brain (centers in the ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens) that lead us to associate reward with food intake, causing us to take in more energy-dense food… That said, I don’t know of any multi-variate studies comparing risk between sugar drinks, diet drinks,… let’s be clear that Aspartame and Splenda are zero calorie sweeteners, meaning they would technically not contribute to the AHA’s recommended daily intake.

I am reminded of what I think of as a reasonably provocative series of observation from Susan Swithers and Terry Davidson at Purdue.

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The Revolutionary Minds Think Tank blog ( which I mentioned over at A Vote for Science yesterday) is a new pet project to transfer a Seed project over to the ScienceBlogs side of the Seed Media Group. In the initial post the editors asked the following question, to be followed by answers from, one assumes, revolutionary minds.

The boundaries of science are continually expanding as scientists become increasingly integral to finding solutions for larger social issues, such as poverty, conflict, financial crises, etc. On what specific issue/problem do you feel we need to bring the scientific lens to bear?

I am not a revolutionary mind but I have a minor thought on the application of the scientific lens to the political process. The key concepts are “experimentalism” and “sunset provision“.

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One link to pwn them all

August 24, 2009

Anti-vaccers, that is. I was recently sent this by a reader.
Why we immunize at the Making Light blog.

There’s a manual that every Navy gunnery officer was required to read or re-read every year: OP 1014; Ordnance Safety Precautions: Their Origin and Necessity. It’s a collection of stories about, and photographs of, spectacular accidents involving big guns and ammunition. Gun turrets that have fired on other gun turrets on the same ship. Holes in the coral where ammunition ships were formerly anchored. That sort of thing. It’s simultaneously grim and fascinating.
Nowadays there’s some kind of movement afoot for claiming that immunization against common childhood diseases is unnecessary. That they cause disease. That they’re harmful. It is true that rare adverse reactions to immunizations occur. It is also true that adverse reactions to the diseases themselves are not at all rare if you don’t immunize. So let’s call this post Immunizations: Their Origin and Necessity.

Read. Bookmark. View the linked pictures (Not for the sensitive).

Writedit points to the following story.

Focus reported that the professors from a dozen German universities took payments of between 4,000 and 20,000 euros ($5,700 and $28,600) to grant doctorates to students.


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Poster Version
from Research!America
As PhysioProf just posted, we received a note from Heather Benson of the New Voices blog alerting everyone to a new poster created by Research!America. These sources also point us to a nifty web site which allows you to examine the distribution of NIH ARRA funding in the US.
Pretty interesting. In a couple of prior posts I talked about using NIH funding data to enhance your communications with your Congressional Rep I notice that the ARRA tables provided by the Research!America site include a national rank for each Congressional district. I make out the top Congressional NIH ARRA recipient districts as:
1. MA 8
2. NC 4
3. CA 53
4. NY 14
5. PA 2
Hmm, pretty good concordance with the overall NIH allocation, the only outlier seems to be MD 07, which falls to 6th on the ARRA list from 4th overall.
If you have received any ARRA funding I would encourage you to print out the poster and stick it up somewhere. Remember, all those support staff of your institution right down to overnight custodians are taxpayers and voters. It is important to communicate to them that the stimulus is supporting your work (and therefore their jobs) just as much as the new bridge-fixing or pothole-filling projects that impede their commute.

We just received a nice e-mail from Heather Benson–Manager for Science Outreach of Research!America, a research advocacy organization–giving us a heads up that they have created a nice poster for ARRA (i.e., “stimulus”)-funded labs to put up on their doors. How fucking coolio is this?!?!?
You can download a vector-based PDF version here.

In case you have been living under a rock (yet inexplicably reading this blog) Usain Bolt has now run both the 100 meter and 200 meter track events faster than anyone ever. The margin of improvement in the 100 meter event (which occurred earlier) was sufficient to start the sports world abuzz. Naturally, sports fans are willing to talk endlessly about the most absurd minutia and implications of such an event in terms pedestrian and embarrassingly overwrought.
YHN is no different.

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In case you are just entering the discussion I’m following up on points I’ve made on shifting the intrapersonal Overton window and communicating unmistakeably to your opponent that they are not in your camp. This series on How to Argue more or less in response to Ethan Siegel and Isis the Scientist, kinda taking a Ladenesque or UncertainChadian approach of being unable to relinquish the bone…except without the initial pronouncements of disinterest.
Personal confession after the jump.

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From the Mindset folks at Beloit College we have the historical perspective of this year’s entering college class.

If the entering college class of 2013 had been more alert back in 1991 when most of them were born

oh c’mon now. 1991? I was …. oh nevermind.

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