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Does my baby need an organic crib mattress? Answers from a mom-pediatrician - ChildrensMD

Does my baby need an organic crib mattress? Answers from a mom-pediatrician - ChildrensMD


ChildrensMD

Are organic crib mattresses safer for babies? What are the risks of traditional crib mattresses and are organic crib mattresses worth the extra money? What about breathable crib mattresses? If you’re buying a crib mattress you’ll be bombarded with online ads for products that are supposedly safer, but the truth is the science behind crib… READ MORE

Why Are Conservatives More Susceptible to Believing Lies?

Why Are Conservatives More Susceptible to Believing Lies?

by John Ehrenreich @ Slate Articles

Many conservatives have a loose relationship with facts. The right-wing denial of what most people think of as accepted reality starts with political issues: As recently as 2016, 45 percent of Republicans still believed that the Affordable Care Act included “death panels” (it doesn’t). A 2015 poll found that 54 percent of GOP primary voters believed then-President Obama to be a Muslim (…he isn’t).

Then there are the false beliefs about generally accepted science. Only 25 percent of self-proclaimed Trump voters agree that climate change is caused by human activities. Only 43 percent of Republicans overall believe that humans have evolved over time.

And then it gets really crazy. Almost 1 in 6 Trump voters, while simultaneously viewing photographs of the crowds at the 2016 inauguration of Donald Trump and at the 2012 inauguration of Barack Obama , insisted that the former were larger. Sixty-six percent of self-described “very conservative” Americans seriously believe that “Muslims are covertly implementing Sharia law in American courts.” Forty-six percent of Trump voters polled just after the 2016 election either thought that Hillary Clinton was connected to a child sex trafficking ring run out of the basement of a pizzeria in Washington, D.C., or weren’t sure if it was true.

If “truth” is judged on the basis of Enlightenment ideas of reason and more or less objective “evidence,” many of the substantive positions common on the right seem to border on delusional. The left is certainly not immune to credulity (most commonly about the safety of vaccines, GMO foods, and fracking), but the right seems to specialize in it. “Misinformation is currently predominantly a pathology of the right,” concluded a team of scholars from the Harvard Kennedy School and Northeastern University at a February 2017 conference. A BuzzFeed analysis found that three main hyperconservative Facebook pages were roughly twice as likely as three leading ultraliberal Facebook pages to publish fake or misleading information.

Why are conservatives so susceptible to misinformation? The right wing’s disregard for facts and reasoning is not a matter of stupidity or lack of education. College-educated Republicans are actually more likely than less-educated Republicans to have believed that Barack Obama was a Muslim and that “death panels” were part of the ACA. And for political conservatives, but not for liberals, greater knowledge of science and math is associated with a greater likelihood of dismissing what almost all scientists believe about the human causation of global warming.

It’s also not just misinformation gained from too many hours listening to Fox News, either, because correcting the falsehoods doesn’t change their opinions. For example, nine months following the release of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate, the percentage of Republicans who believed that he was not American-born was actually higher than before the release. Similarly, during the 2012 presidential campaign, Democrats corrected their previous overestimates of the unemployment rate after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the actual data. Republicans’ overestimated even more than before.

Part of the problem is widespread suspicion of facts—any facts. Both mistrust of scientists and other “experts” and mistrust of the mass media that reports what scientists and experts believe have increased among conservatives (but not among liberals) since the early ’80s. The mistrust has in part, at least, been deliberately inculcated. The fossil fuel industry publicizes studies to confuse the climate change debate; Big Pharma hides unfavorable information on drug safety and efficacy; and many schools in conservative areas teach students that evolution is “just a theory.” The public is understandably confused about both the findings and methods of science. “Fake news” deliberately created for political or economic gain and Donald Trump’s claims that media sites that disagree with him are “fake news” add to the mistrust.

But, the gullibility of many on the right seems to have deeper roots even than this. That may be because at the most basic level, conservatives and liberals seem to hold different beliefs about what constitutes “truth.” Finding facts and pursuing evidence and trusting science is part of liberal ideology itself. For many conservatives, faith and intuition and trust in revealed truth appear as equally valid sources of truth.

To understand how these differences manifest and what we might do about them, it helps to understand how all humans reason and rationalize: In other words, let’s take a detour into psychology. Freud distinguished between “errors” on the one hand, “illusions” and “delusions” on the other. Errors, he argued, simply reflect lack of knowledge or poor logic; Aristotle’s belief that vermin form out of dung was an error. But illusions and delusions are based on conscious or unconscious wishes; Columbus’s belief that he had found a new route to the Indies was a delusion based on his wish that he had done so.

Although Freud is out of favor with many contemporary psychologists, modern cognitive psychology suggests that he was on the right track. The tenacity of many of the right’s beliefs in the face of evidence, rational arguments, and common sense suggest that these beliefs are not merely alternate interpretations of facts but are instead illusions rooted in unconscious wishes. 

This is a very human thing to do. As popular writers such as Daniel Kahneman, Cass Sunstein, and Richard Thaler have pointed out, we often use shortcuts when we reason, shortcuts that enable us to make decisions quickly and with little expenditure of mental energy. But they also often lead us astray—we underestimate the risks of events that unfold slowly and whose consequences are felt only over the long term (think global warming) and overestimate the likelihood of events that unfold rapidly and have immediate consequences (think terrorist attacks).

Our reasoning is also influenced (motivated, psychologists would say) by our emotions and instincts. This manifests in all kinds of ways: We need to maintain a positive self-image, to stave off anxiety and guilt, and to preserve social relationships. We also seek to maintain consistency in our beliefs, meaning that when people simultaneously hold two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values, one or the other must go. And so we pay more attention and give more credence to information and assertions that confirm what we already believe: Liberals enthusiastically recount even the most tenuous circumstantial evidence of Trump campaign collusion with the Russians, and dyed-in-the-wool Trump supporters happily believe that the crowd really was bigger at his candidate’s inauguration.

These limits to “objective” reasoning apply to everyone, of course—left and right. Why is it that conservatives have taken the lead in falling off the deep edge?

The answer, I think, lies in the interaction between reasoning processes and personality. It’s each person’s particular motivations and particular psychological makeup that affects how they search for information, what information they pay attention to, how they assess the accuracy and meaning of the information, what information they retain, and what conclusions they draw. But conservatives and liberals typically differ in their particular psychological makeups. And if you add up all of these particular differences, you get two groups that are systematically motivated to believe different things.

Psychologists have repeatedly reported that self-described conservatives tend to place a higher value than those to their left on deference to tradition and authority. They are more likely to value stability, conformity, and order, and have more difficulty tolerating novelty and ambiguity and uncertainty. They are more sensitive than liberals to information suggesting the possibility of danger than to information suggesting benefits. And they are more moralistic and more likely to repress unconscious drives towards unconventional sexuality.

Fairness and kindness place lower on the list of moral priorities for conservatives than for liberals. Conservatives show a stronger preference for higher status groups, are more accepting of inequality and injustice, and are less empathic (at least towards those outside their immediate family). As one Tea Party member told University of California sociologist Arlie Hochschild, “People think we are not good people if we don’t feel sorry for blacks and immigrants and Syrian refugees. But I am a good person and I don’t feel sorry for them.”

Baptist minister and former Republican congressman J.C. Watts put it succinctly. Campaigning for Sen. Rand Paul in Iowa in 2015 he observed, “The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans believe people are fundamentally bad, while Democrats see people as fundamentally good.”

These conservative traits lead directly to conservative views on many issues, just as liberal traits tend to lead to liberal views on many issues. But when you consider how these conservative traits and these conservative views interact with commonly shared patterns of motivated reasoning, it becomes clearer why conservatives may be more likely to run into errors in reasoning and into difficulty judging accurately what is true and what is false.

It’s not just that Trump is “their” president, so they want to defend him. Conservatives’ greater acceptance of hierarchy and trust in authority may lead to greater faith that what the president says must be true, even when the “facts” would seem to indicate otherwise. The New York Times cataloged no less than 117 clearly false statements proclaimed publicly by Trump in the first six months of his presidency, with no evident loss in his supporters’ faith in him. In the same way, greater faith in the legitimacy of the decisions of corporate CEOs may strengthen the tendency to deny evidence that there are any potential benefits from regulation of industry.

Similarly, greater valuation of stability, greater sensitivity to the possibility of danger, and greater difficulty tolerating difference and change lead to greater anxiety about social change and so support greater credulity with respect to lurid tales of the dangers posed by immigrants. And higher levels of repression and greater adherence to tradition and traditional sources of moral judgment increase the credibility of claims that gay marriage is a threat to the “traditional” family.

Conservatives are also less introspective, less attentive to their inner feelings, and less likely to override their “gut” reactions and engage in further reflection to find a correct answer. As a result, they may be more likely to rely on error-prone cognitive shortcuts, less aware of their own unconscious biases, and less likely to respond to factual corrections to previously held beliefs.

The differences in how conservatives and liberals process information are augmented by an asymmetry in group psychological processes. Yes, we all seek to keep our social environment stable and predictable. Beliefs that might threaten relationships with family, neighbors, and friends (e.g., for a fundamentalist evangelical to believe that humans are the result of Darwinian evolution or for a coal miner to believe that climate change is real and human-made) must be ignored or denied, at peril of disrupting the relationships. But among all Americans, the intensity of social networks has declined in recent years. Church attendance and union membership, participation in community organizations, and direct political involvement have flagged. Conservatives come disproportionately from rural areas and small towns, where social networks remain smaller, but denser and more homogeneous than in the big cities that liberals dominate. As a result, the opinions of family, friends, and community may be more potent in conservative hotbeds than in the more anonymous big cities where Democrats dominate.

The lack of shared reality between left and right in America today has contributed greatly to our current political polarization. Despite occasional left forays into reality denial, conservatives are far more likely to accept misinformation and outright lies. Deliberate campaigns of misinformation and conservative preferences for information that fits in with their pre-existing ideology provide only a partial explanation. Faulty reasoning and judgment, rooted in the interactions between modes of reasoning and judgment shared by all with the specific personality patterns found disproportionately among conservatives may also play a central role.

Top 5 Best Crib Mattresses 2018 - Buyer's Guide And Reviews

Top 5 Best Crib Mattresses 2018 - Buyer's Guide And Reviews


Best Mattress Reviews

Disclaimer:We receive free products to review and participate in affiliate programs, where we are compensated for items purchased through links from our site (at no cost to the buyer). Have a newborn or a toddler? Then you should definitely care about their sleep as it is imperative to their growth. To ensure the latter, you …

Want to Win a Nobel Prize? Retract a Paper.

Want to Win a Nobel Prize? Retract a Paper.

by Adam Marcus @ Slate Articles

Retracting a paper is supposed to be a kiss of death to a career in science, right? Not if you think that winning a Nobel Prize is a mark of achievement, which pretty much everyone does.

Just ask Michael Rosbash, who shared the 2017 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his work on circadian rhythms, aka the body’s internal clock. Rosbash, of Brandeis University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, retracted a paper in 2016 because the results couldn’t be replicated. The researcher who couldn’t replicate them? Michael Young, who shared the 2017 Nobel with Rosbash.

This wasn’t a first. Harvard’s Jack Szostak retracted a paper in 2009. Months later, he got that early morning call from the Nobel committee for his work. And he hasn’t been afraid to correct the record since, either. In 2016, Szostak and his colleagues published a paper in Nature Chemistry that offered potentially breakthrough clues for how RNA might have preceded DNA as the key chemical of life on Earth—a possibility that has captivated and frustrated biologists for half a century. But when Tivoli Olsen, a researcher in Szostak’s lab, repeated the experiments last year, she couldn’t get the same results. The scientists had made a mistake interpreting their initial data. Once that realization settled in, they retracted the paper—a turn of events Szostak described as “definitely embarrassing.”

The simplistic message might be: Want to win a Nobel Prize? Try retracting a paper. That logic is obviously ridiculous. It confuses correlation with causation in a way that—wait for it—should be retracted. The vast majority of those who’ve won Nobel Prizes have not retracted any papers, and the vast majority of retractions were not by those who’ve won Nobels. The advice is as tongue-in-cheek as Nobelist Richard Roberts’ “Ten Simple Rules to Win A Nobel Prize,” which include “Be Sure to Pick Your Family Carefully” (meaning, yes, your biological family) and “Always Be Nice to Swedish Scientists.”

But what isn’t absurd is the idea that admitting mistakes shouldn’t be an indelible mark of Cain that kills your career. Quite the opposite. A growing body of evidence points to this encouraging conclusion: Scientists who acknowledge honest errors and retract their flawed findings send a signal to their colleagues and peers that their future studies are worthy of trust. In turn, those researchers are no less likely to cite those studies—an essential form of endorsement in science. (We should also note that when it’s clear a retraction is for misconduct, researchers see a significant dip in citations, which is a reminder that scientists still look down on such behavior.)

Still, although the noble actions of the aforementioned Nobel winners are encouraging, they’re not likely to trigger a flood of nostra culpa from scientists. And despite the hints of a trust dividend for transparency, researchers still have few incentives to be open about their errors. But that, too, might be changing—in part thanks to the reproducibility crisis rippling through science. One recent analysis of 100 published psychology studies famously found that less than 40 percent of primary findings held up to repeat experiments. (Rates seem similar across many fields, though psychology has been the focus of media coverage of the issue.)

In 2016, a pair of scientists in Texas and France—since joined by a third colleague in Germany—launched the Loss-of-Confidence Project. This effort encourages researchers in psychology to notify the field when they have reason to doubt their own findings by submitting a form expressing the reason for the doubt (statistical flaws, for example, or a problem with methodology).

As the creators of the Loss-of-Confidence Project rightly point out, the authors of the original studies are in the best position—presuming they’ve tried to build on their work—to say if the findings are robust, or if they warrant concern. “However, except for few notable exceptions … researchers do not share this type of information: It is anything but common to publicly declare that one has lost confidence in one’s own previous findings,” they write.

But the project goes beyond simply encouraging researchers to admit their mistakes. Indeed, here’s where their idea is particularly clever: The end product of the whole form process is a publishable paper detailing the soul-searching effort. That’s a juicy carrot; after all, publications are the coin of the realm in science—which is a big reason that retracting them can be so traumatic.

Of course, coming up with a solution for the “publish or perish” culture is by no means easy. A few retraction-Nobel pairs are almost certainly not enough to do the trick, and the Loss-of-Confidence Project likely isn’t either, as smart as it is. It might even be the topic of a future Nobel prize in economics—which, someone will no doubt point out in the comments, is not technically a Nobel, but instead the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. There, we got the ball rolling with a retraction. The rest is up to you, economists.

Mattress Disposal and Recycling

by Lindsay S @ Choose Mattress

With all the millions of mattresses being sold annually worldwide it’s wonder where all of these used mattresses cease to be worthy at the end of their life cycle. I used to have an image of huge refuse sites with stacks of rubbish and piles of mattresses. In the US, this is no longer the case as it was some decades ago. However, in many places across the world, a landfill site is certainly where old mattresses still do tend to expire, piled high in corners of tips where they take up space and cause unnecessary harm to the environment.

The post Mattress Disposal and Recycling appeared first on Choose Mattress.

All About Different Mattress Thickness

by Lindsay S @ Choose Mattress

One of the many common attributes you will see listed when reading through any mattress reviews or specifications is not just the name, brand, or material, but also the stated mattress thickness, which is sometimes specified as its height. Many people may mistakenly believe that the different mattress sizes correlate to their height, but this isn’t necessarily true – you can get thick Twin and thin Queen, and vice versa. In this article we touch a little more briefly upon size. Why Mattress Height Matters Mattress height plays a large role in how the bed appears in the room. Will

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Brentwood Home Oceano Mattress Review

by Jessica Jones @ The Sleep Judge

Pebble Lite Crib Mattress - Baby

Pebble Lite Crib Mattress - Baby


Nook Sleep Systems

The Pebble Lite Crib Mattress is a healthy, eco-friendly, all-in-one sleep space for your baby.

Breathable Foam Crib and Toddler Bed Standard Mattress, White

by Avish Dahiya @ Products – Dream On Me

Dream On Me, Two-Sided 5″, mattress introduce a breathe flow technology. Our mattress is designed to fit standard full size cribs it features supreme comfort, hypo-allergenic, CertiPUR-US certified layer for comfort these mattress are covered with a breathe -flow material on the infant side and a waterproof cover on the toddler side with lock stitch […]

It’s Illegal for Hospitals to Not Provide Translation Services. So Why Is Proper Translation Still Scarce?

It’s Illegal for Hospitals to Not Provide Translation Services. So Why Is Proper Translation Still Scarce?

by Terena Bell @ Slate Articles

Do you speak a second language fluently? Sort of fluently? Or maybe you partially remember high school Spanish? Well, show up with the right friend at the wrong hospital and you too can be a medical interpreter: Let them know you can say a few words, and the job can be yours.

It sounds insane—that a hospital would give you a job you’re not remotely qualified for, especially one that could have serious repercussions for someone’s health. But the state of medical translation means that it is too frequently the case. As far back as 1996, research from Emory University School of Medicine showed that 76 percent of Spanish-speaking patients went without an interpreter in the emergency department. Data on the subject is scarce, but anecdotal evidence indicates little has changed. One doctor at Mt. Sinai in New York, a hospital that often sees patients who don’t speak English, told me her colleagues frequently ask her to interpret Arabic, a language she doesn’t even speak, because she has a Middle Eastern last name (she requested anonymity for professional reasons). This is all part of an ad-hoc system that often means if translation is provided at all, it’s likely from a bystander, family member, or friend with no idea how to say things like “mitral valve prolapse” in a foreign language.

Why? You might wonder if it’s because ER doctors have to save lives quickly, and finding an interpreter could cause delays. That sounds reasonable, but hospitals have plenty of protocols that help them achieve complicated outcomes quickly—language access ought to be one of them. Nor is it because medical interpreters don’t exist or can’t be found. Instead, underuse of medical interpreters seems to stem from misunderstanding how proper translation improves medical outcomes, and that it’s not only fiscally possible, it’s actually fiscally prudent, since it’s illegal not to offer.

Medical interpreters are supposed to be certified. Credentials from both the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters and the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters are accepted. For additional qualifications, you can pursue a master’s in interpreting or a graduate certificate from universities across the country. Like doctors, interpreters are also required to pursue continued education every year. It’s in the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC) Code of Ethics: “The interpreter strives to continually further his/her knowledge and skills.”

Hospitals would never dream of letting a patient’s friend operate just because she can hold a scalpel. But they ask bilingual relatives to interpret all the time, disregarding how critical communication is to patient care. Get one word wrong and the consequences can be life-changing: After staff misunderstood intoxicado (Spanish for “poisoned”) as “drunk,” Florida teen Willie Ramirez received the wrong care and ended up paralyzed. In Oregon, Elidiana Valdez-Lemus died after 911 misinterpreted her address. Lack of proper translation has consequences outside of emergencies, too: Erika Williams, a second-year medical student at Harvard Medical School, summarized research to show that when there’s a language barrier, patients “receive less preventative care,” don’t take medication as prescribed, “and are more likely to leave the hospital against medical advice.”

Federal civil rights laws state that hospitals must provide people—all people—with equal access to care, regardless of “race, color, or national origin.” That’s the phrase used in Title VI, the first law pertaining to professional interpreters. If “national origin” doesn’t indicate language as a discriminator clearly enough, in Executive Order 13166, President Bill Clinton implicitly stated any organization receiving federal funds—like Medicaid or Medicare—must provide “meaningful language access.” If they don’t, facilities are supposed to lose those funds.

But this doesn’t always happen. Chris Carter, president of the Association of Language Companies, the U.S. trade organization for translation and interpreting providers, says hospitals rarely become proactively compliant: “Unfortunately, member companies of the ALC have noticed in recent years that healthcare organizations usually wait until they are audited by the [Department of Justice] and found non-compliant with [Affordable Care Act] Section 1557 or other laws before they shift from ad hoc service provision to implementing an organized Language Access Plan.”

Is providing interpretation prohibitively expensive? Not in the context of what medical care costs—and how expensive mistakes are. From 2005–2015, I owned an interpreting company. When we opened, an on-site Spanish interpreter cost $25 an hour. If you wanted someone by phone, it was $1.50 a minute. Interpreting services are also reimbursed by certain types of insurance. But the No. 1 sales objection we heard from hospital administrators was that professional interpreting was too expensive.

Under the ACA, failure to provide a medical interpreter can be met with a $70,000 fine—for each encounter with a patient. Which means that the cost of not providing an interpreter, even if it doesn’t lead to errors, is astronomically higher than the cost of paying for one.

At least for now. As states file ACA waivers, they aren’t just opting out of Obamacare’s better-known parts. They’re also giving hospitals permission to shortchange limited-English speakers’ care. It’s true that Title VI is there to fall back on, but it’s rarely and arbitrarily enforced. It’s the ACA’s hefty fines that have been the impetus forcing hospitals to change: Carter says that since ACA audits began, interpreting companies have seen many hospitals working with professional interpreters for the first time, an improvement he’s noticed industrywide.

“The risks are too high to give up and to say quality interpretation for everyone in America just can’t be done,” Carter says.

The right to understand what doctors are doing to your body is fundamental. The right to know your own diagnosis is basic, to know when surgery is being performed on what, to understand why people are putting needles and tubes inside you. Interpreting isn’t too expensive—it’s essential to providing accurate medical care. Hospitals’ failure to appreciate and act on this is not a failure that we should dismiss for mere budgeting. It’s a manifestation of racism that should no longer have a place in our society.

Sleeping Without A Pillow, Good Or Bad

by bestmattress @ Best Mattress Reviews

Pillow is not a scientific device but it has scientific uses in human lives or in human health.  It is used to snooze on and prop up the head/neck or other parts of the body. The word comes from Middle English “pilwe”, an old English “Pyle” before the 12th century. The concept of using it […]

The post Sleeping Without A Pillow, Good Or Bad appeared first on Best Mattress Reviews.

Baby Boy and Girl Bedding Ideas

by Christie @ Carousel Designs Blog

We received two more nursery collages during our photo contest, and we love sharing these ideas! The first one is a real hoot – owls that is. Retro Owls crib bedding has a vintage feel and includes soft blues and richContinue reading... Baby Boy and Girl Bedding Ideas

Could Pharmacists Help Fix Health Care?

Could Pharmacists Help Fix Health Care?

by Vishal Khetpal @ Slate Articles

Over the weekend, CVS Health and Aetna formally announced their long-rumored plans to merge. Many have already tried to divine what the merger’s legacy might be, as it’s certainly poised to shake up America’s economy and health care system. Some have fixated on the new company’s presumed antagonist, Amazon, and how the merger might force a rewrite of the retail giant’s play for the pharmaceutical market. Others suggest that the merger may be a big win for consumers, and could lower drug prices in the short term. Meanwhile, the local media in Rhode Island—the state where I’m currently writing this essay—have focused on how the merger would make the Ocean State home to America’s third-biggest company.

The CVS-Aetna merger’s most sweeping implication, however, may have more to do with the company’s past, rather than its future. After its most recent series of evolutions—rebranding as a health-focused company, buying Caremark, and now merging with Aetna—it’s easy to forget that CVS once started as a drugstore. But to me, this past raises the question: How will the merger affect the pharmacists who work within them and who still remain at the center of the company’s growing push to influence every interaction of the American consumer’s health care experience? And how will this shape a profession that a pharmacy school dean once called “the most overeducated and underutilized health care professionals in America”?

It’s difficult today to believe that pharmacists and doctors in America share similar occupational origins. According to William Kelly, a professor at the University of South Florida College of Pharmacy, both trace their roots back to the apothecary shops lining cobblestone streets in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York in the 1700s—owned by proto-physicians who treated the sick, sold goods from a general store, and concocted their own drugs from Old World patent medicines and New World herbs. But as our gargantuan health care system emerged, both professions have been siloed into different roles. Over time, it could be argued that doctors staked their claim to treating our patients while pharmacists took stewardship over drugs we prescribe to them.

Today, the work and training of pharmacists can be taken for granted. Medical education to become a physician still generally involves a longer overall timeline, but pharmacists do attend school for six to eight years, taking courses in topics like law and economics while also taking science classes and gaining clinical experience. They can complete residencies and fellowships, and have to take board examinations—including one in jurisprudence, which doctors don’t take—to earn their state licenses.

Yet the legal landscape is unforgiving for pharmacists across the country. What pharmacists can and can’t do on their own varies greatly from state to state. As Rep. Buddy Carter—a Georgia Republican and pharmacist—wrote in an op-ed for the Hill last year, Medicare Part B doesn’t even recognize pharmacists as reimbursable health care professionals. Many of the Affordable Care Act’s Accountable Care Organizations have also left pharmacists out of their networks. And public perceptions of what pharmacists do, despite their insight, often don’t match up to their training and expertise.

But as costs continue to grow for health care systems here and around the world, pharmacists have become increasingly utilized as direct patient care providers, rather than just as overqualified dispensaries. Provinces across Canada have been using pharmacists for issues like emergency contraception counseling, colon cancer screening, and even treating minor ailments like acne and oral thrush. Here in the United States, Medicaid programs have deployed pharmacists as smoking-cessation counselors, patient educators, and diabetes case managers. Veterans Affairs uses clinical pharmacists to decrease waiting times for patients seeking care for chronic conditions, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Research suggests that pharmacists have increased flu vaccination rates, in states where they can give them. And in Medicare Part D (as well as in other programs), pharmacists frequently provide medication-therapy management, where they work with patients to simplify drug regimens, check for any possible drug-to-drug interactions, modify dosing, and encourage the use of generic drugs when appropriate.

Reporting since the merger also has highlighted the possible future role of CVS’s Minute Clinics, which work with physician groups and are staffed by nurse practitioners. These retail clinics operate within in the crucial gap between a primary care provider’s office and an urgent care facility. But CVS’s pharmacy-staffed locations outnumber their Minute Clinics by 9 to 1, and are far more likely to be found in rural communities.

Within this context, the CVS-Aetna merger could instead transfer more practices empowering pharmacists into the private sector—as Aetna effectively gains access to an army of its own pharmacists scattered across the country, both willing and able to perform many of the necessary functions of primary care. Building upon CVS’s decision to quit selling tobacco products in 2014, the new company could encourage insurance policyholders to seek smoking cessation by pharmacists, rather than in the doctor’s office. CVS-Aetna could route routine immunizations to its brick-and-mortar locations and use pharmacists, seeing their patients frequently, to promote public health messages on issues like breastfeeding and exercise. It may even expand the Pharmacy Advisor program currently operated by CVS—which bears similarities to medication-therapy management—to all Aetna users too, in states where this may be legal.

Adding to the responsibilities of pharmacists, as these trends continue, won’t come without its complications, nor does it guarantee benefits. Pharmacy schools today have had trouble keeping up with the growing influx of students seeking to attend them. MCPHS University in Boston, for example, recently went under probation for high student-to-professor ratios and overcrowded buildings on its campus. Policies around liability and malpractice insurance may have to change. And although medical therapy management makes lots of clinical sense in theory, practical data is inconclusive on how much it actually saves in cost to payers.

Nevertheless, the possible rise of pharmacists in American health care, resulting from the CVS-Aetna merger, could ultimately help alleviate primary care shortages across much of our country and continue to move us toward a system that prioritizes team-based maintenance over individual heroics. At a recent inter-professional workshop my medical school hosted with local pharmacist, nursing, and social work programs, I was able to appreciate the strengths different health professionals can bring to the table in a medical team. The nursing students could take blood pressure far better than I could (as well as many of my peers, according to a recent study); the social work students held a more nuanced grasp of community resources available to our patients to quit smoking and lose weight.

Pharmacists, many of whom could soon work for a merged CVS and Aetna, ought to be better integrated into this new delivery model for health care. Even today, they have an especially important role to address perhaps one of the biggest challenges faced by our health care system, which is medication adherence. Up to half of medications I will prescribe to my patients, if nothing changes, will not end up taken as I might imagine in the exam room. It’s a sobering reminder that teams, rather than individuals, will be managing the diseases faced by many of our patients in the coming years.

Baby Trend Nursery Center Breathable Two-Sided 3″ Foam mattress with Square Corner

by Avish Dahiya @ Mattresses – Dream On Me

Dream On Me, Two-Sided 3, Play Yard Foam Mattress introduce a breathe flow technology. Our mattress is designed to fit selective play yard it features CertiPUR-US certified layer for comfort these mattress are covered with a breathe flow material on the infant side and a waterproof cover on the toddler side with lock stitch seams. […]

Mattress Buying Guide & Secret Tips

by Lindsay S @ Choose Mattress

Anyone interested in buying a new mattress will know how difficult it can be to make the right choice. Considering many of the mattresses for sale whether in a showroom or online can easily be an expensive purchase, it’s important that your selection is wise and really should be viewed as an investment rather than a product. In this section below we discuss many of the things to consider when it comes to choosing a mattress, ranging from size, hypoallergenic properties, and much more. Not just to address value for money, but to ensure you’re sleeping on something you’ll cherish for

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The 6 Best Baby Crib Mattresses - Updated Review Guide For 2018

The 6 Best Baby Crib Mattresses - Updated Review Guide For 2018


The Sleep Advisor

Finding the perfect baby mattress is an extremely important decision! Our IN-DEPTH buyer's guide makes it EASY to find the perfect crib mattress for your baby!

Discussing Mattress Pads vs Toppers

by Lindsay S @ Choose Mattress

After a long hard day’s work, many of us look forward to coming home and crashing out on a comfortable bed. However, we get home, throw our clothes to the floor and jump in bed only to find it’s no longer as comfortable as it once was. What to do next? Perhaps buying a new mattress isn’t an option, after all they can be quite expensive, or perhaps your landlord advises against it, or maybe even donating a mattress where you live is difficult. There are numerous constraints one can come across. In which case, an excellent answer to these

The post Discussing Mattress Pads vs Toppers appeared first on Choose Mattress.

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LOL Something Matters

LOL Something Matters

by Daniel Engber @ Slate Articles

I.

Ten years ago last fall, Washington Post science writer Shankar Vedantam published an alarming scoop: The truth was useless.

His story started with a flyer issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to counter lies about the flu vaccine. The flyer listed half a dozen statements labeled either “true” or “false”—“Not everyone can take flu vaccine,” for example, or “The side effects are worse than the flu” —along with a paragraph of facts corresponding to each one. Vedantam warned the flyer’s message might be working in reverse. When social psychologists had asked people to read it in a lab, they found the statements bled together in their minds. Yes, the side effects are worse than the flu, they told the scientists half an hour later. That one was true—I saw it on the flyer.

This wasn’t just a problem with vaccines. According to Vedantam, a bunch of peer-reviewed experiments had revealed a somber truth about the human mind: Our brains are biased to believe in faulty information, and corrections only make that bias worse.

This supposed scientific fact jibed with an idea then in circulation. In those days of phantom Iraqi nukes, anti-vaxxer propaganda, and climate change denialism, reality itself appeared to be in danger. Stephen Colbert’s neologism, truthiness—voted word of the year in 2006—had summed up the growing sense of epistemic crisis. “Truth comes from the gut,” Colbert boasted to his audience. “Anyone can read the news to you. I promise to feel the news at you.”

Back then it seemed as though America had slipped the moorings of her reason and was swiftly drifting toward a “post-fact age.” Scholar Cass Sunstein blamed the internet for this disaster: Online communities, he argued, could serve as “echo chambers” for those with shared beliefs. Then came Vedantam’s piece, with real-life data to support the sense that we all were flailing in a quicksand of deception and that the more we struggled to escape it, the deeper we would sink into the muck.

Writing in Slate last year, former professional fact-checker Jess Zimmerman remembered Vedantam’s article as “my first ‘lol nothing matters’ moment,” when she realized her efforts to correct the record might only make things worse. Another nothing-matters moment followed one week later, when Vedantam told WNYC about a different study. A pair of political scientists had given 130 students a mocked-up news report on a speech about the invasion of Iraq that described the country as “a place where terrorists might get weapons of mass destruction.” Half the subjects then read a correction to that news report, noting that the CIA had found no evidence of such weapons in Iraq. For students who were politically conservative, the correction didn’t work the way it should have; instead of making them more suspicious of the idea that Saddam Hussein had been hiding WMDs, it doubled their belief in it.

News about this research made its way to Slate, the Wall Street Journal, This American Life, la Repubblica in Rome, and several hundred other media outlets around the world. Sunstein cited the result—an “especially disturbing finding,” he declared—in his next book on the nature of extremism.

The study of corrected news reports, like the work on vaccine myths, helped provide a scientific framework for our growing panic over facts. Now we had a set of interlocking theories and experiments on which to hang the claim that truth was being vanquished from democracy—that the internet divides us, that facts will make us dumber, and that debunking doesn’t work. These ideas, and the buzzwords that came with them—filter bubbles, selective exposure, and the backfire effect—would be cited, again and again, as seismic forces pushing us to rival islands of belief.

Ten years on, the same scientific notions have now been used to explain the rise of Donald Trump. The coronation of the man who lied a thousand times, a champion of “alternative facts,” had brought us from the age of truthiness to the era of post-truth—2016’s word of the year. In a span of several weeks after Trump’s inauguration, Slate announced that “It’s Time to Give Up on Facts,” Rolling Stone declared “The End of Facts,” the New Yorker told us “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds,” and the Atlantic ran through “the facts on why facts alone can’t fight false beliefs.” These lamentations continued unabated throughout 2017. Just two weeks ago, Facebook said it would no longer flag phony links with red-box warnings, since pointing to a lie only makes it stronger. The truth, this move implied, does more harm than good.

But there’s a problem with these stories about the end of facts. In the past few years, social scientists armed with better research methods have been revisiting some classic work on the science of post-truth. Based on their results, the most surprising and important revelations from this research—the real lol-nothing-matters stuff—now seem overstated. It may be that the internet does not divide us, that facts don’t make us dumber than we were before, and that debunking doesn’t really lead to further bunk.

In fact, it may be time that we gave up on the truth-y notion that we’re living in a post-truth age. In fact, it may be time that we debunked the whole idea.

II.

We didn’t need some lab experiment to tell us that the truth is often unpersuasive and that it’s hard to change a person’s mind. But that’s not what the end-of-facts researchers were saying. Their work got at something far more worrisome: a fear that facts could blow up in all our faces and that even valid points might reinforce a false belief.

This is not a small distinction. If the truth were merely ineffective, then all our efforts to disperse it—through educational websites, debunking flyers, and back-and-forths on Facebook—would be at worst a waste of time. But what if the truth had a tendency to flip itself around? In that case, those same efforts might be tugging people in the wrong direction, pulling them apart. Even if the tugs were very slight, the effect could multiply in terrifying ways—a million tiny forces from a million tiny arguments that added up to a tidal wave of disagreement.

In 2007, an example of this boomerang phenomenon seemed to be unfolding in real time. Polls showed Americans were more likely to describe then–presidential candidate Barack Obama as a Muslim than a member of any other faith. A related set of smears had oozed across the country via Fwd: Fwd: emails, asserting that Obama joined a Christian church to hide his madrassa past, that he wouldn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance, and that he’d been sworn into the Senate on a copy of the Quran.

In the face of all this faulty information, journalists tried redoubling their focus on the facts. Two weeks before Vedantam wrote his Washington Post piece on the dangers of debunking, the Tampa Bay Times’ Bill Adair launched PolitiFact. Two weeks after, the Post’s Glenn Kessler started his weekly “Fact Checker” column, with its Pinocchio rating scheme. Yet the checkers sensed that certain lies about Obama were resistant to their efforts or were maybe even fueled by them. “The number of Americans who believe Obama is a Muslim has gone up,” a nonplussed Adair told NPR in March 2008. “It was 8 percent back in November. The latest poll, it’s up to 13 percent.”

How could this be happening? Norbert Schwarz, the psychologist whose work on dispelling myths about the flu vaccine had been described in Vedantam’s piece, thought he had the answer. Based on the data he’d collected with his postdoc Ian Skurnik, it seemed to him Obama’s denial of a Muslim past would only make the rumors worse.

Schwarz helped draft a memo to the Obama campaign, sharing this advice. By that point he’d joined a secret panel of advisers to the candidate, a group that included Sunstein as well as several winners of the Nobel Prize. This group—which would later be dubbed an “academic dream team”—had been formed to supply Democratic candidates with cutting-edge research on the psychology of messaging. “In no case should you say that Obama is not a Muslim, since repeating it will only cause a backlash,” Schwarz says he advised the campaign. Instead, Obama should emphasize the fact that he is a Christian and that he brings his family to church.

The dream team never got explicit feedback on this memo, but it did seem to Schwarz that the campaign was heeding his advice. In early 2008, Obama began to focus on pronouncements of his Christian faith and his devoted membership in Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ. This would backfire in spectacular fashion: In mid-March, a controversy erupted over unpatriotic sermons from that church’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

Schwarz recounts this wistfully, as “an interesting illustration of what can happen when you make the correct recommendation in a world that you have no control over.” In any case, after the election, the boomerang theory of debunking was established as a rule of thumb. In November 2011, a pair of cognitive psychologists in Australia, Stephan Lewandowsky and John Cook, published an eight-page pamphlet they called “The Debunking Handbook,” on the “difficult and complex challenge” of correcting misinformation. They cited work from Schwarz and Skurnik, among others, in describing several ways in which debunkings can boomerang or backfire. Arriving when it did, in the middle of the post-fact panic, their handbook satisfied a pressing need. Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science, called it “a treasure trove for defenders of reason.” The liberal website Daily Kos said it was a “must read and a must keep reference.” Its text would be translated into 11 languages, including Indonesian and Icelandic.

“The existence of backfire effects” have “emerged more and more over time,” Lewandowksy told Vox in 2014. “If you tell people one thing, they’ll believe the opposite. That finding seems to be pretty strong.”

III.

If you tell people one thing, they’ll believe the opposite. This improbable idea had been bouncing around the academic literature for decades before Schwarz and others started touting it. The first hints of a boomerang effect for truth emerged in the early 1940s, as the nation grappled with a rash of seditious, wartime rumors. Newspaper fact-check columns, known as “rumor clinics,” sprang up in response to the “fake news” of the time—the claim, say, that a female munitions worker’s head exploded when she went to a beauty parlor for a perm. The rumor clinics spelled out these circulating falsehoods, then explained at length why they were “phony,” “sucker bait,” or “food for propageese.” But experts soon determined that these refutations might be dangerous.

By January 1943, mavens at America’s “rumor-scotching bureau,” the Office of War Information, told the New York Times that debunkers could “make a rumor worse by printing it and denying it in the wrong manner.” Shortly thereafter, an Austrian émigré and sociologist named Paul Lazarsfeld published the results from his seminal study of Ohio voters. Lazarsfeld, who was based at Columbia University’s Office of Radio Research, found these voters had been awash in a “flood of propaganda and counterpropaganda” about the candidates running for president in 1940—but that they’d mostly filtered out the facts they didn’t care for. Like-minded voters tended to communicate only among themselves, he said, which in turn produced “a mutual strengthening of common attitudes,” to the point that even rival facts might only “boomerang” and reinforce their original views.

More examples of the boomerang effect would be presented in the years that followed. In 1973, for example, psychologists presented evidence that the social message of the TV sitcom All in the Family had backfired. The show’s creators aimed to skewer and rebut the attitudes of its central character, the bigot Archie Bunker. But when scientists surveyed high school students in a Midwest town, they found that the most prejudiced teenagers in the group were the ones most likely to be watching Archie every week. “The program is more likely reinforcing prejudice and racism than combating it,” the researchers concluded.

Another famous study, published in 1979, found a boomerang for environmental messages. Researchers in Arizona passed out flyers at a public swimming pool that featured one of three messages: “Don’t Litter,” “Help Keep Your Pool Clean,” or “Obey Pool Safety Rules.” The “Don’t Litter” message seemed to backfire and make the garbage problem worse: Half the people who received that flyer tossed it on the ground, as compared with just one-quarter of the people who’d received the other messages.

In a classic paper, also out in 1979, Stanford psychologists Charles Lord, Lee Ross, and Mark Lepper got at the related concept of motivated reasoning. For that study, which has since been cited thousands of times, they presented undergraduates with conflicting data on the efficacy of the death penalty. They found that the exact same information would be interpreted in different ways, depending on how the subjects felt before the research started. The net effect of their experiment was to make the students more convinced of their original positions—to polarize their thinking.

Thirty years later, as a fresh array of boomerang or backfire effects made its way to print, psychologists Sahara Byrne and Philip Solomon Hart reviewed the science in the field. Their paper cites more than 100 studies of situations where “a strategic message generates the opposite attitude or behavior than was originally intended.” The evidence they cite looks overwhelming, but as I sorted through the underlying literature, I began to wonder if some of these supposed boomerang effects might be weaker than they seemed.

Take the Archie Bunker paper. When the same psychologists ran their survey on a second group of people up in Canada, they did not find the same result. And going by subsequent research on the TV show, published in the 1970s, it seemed that Archie’s antics on All in the Family may have helped diminish prejudice, not increase it.

The study of the poolside flyers, which Byrne and Hart called “one of the most famous research examples of the boomerang effect,” also seemed a little flimsy. The original paper goes through three versions of the same experiment; where the first one seems to show a real effect, the others look like replication failures, with no clear evidence for backfire.

As I poked around these and other studies, I began to feel a sort of boomerang effect vis-à-vis my thinking about boomerangs: Somehow the published evidence was making me less convinced of the soundness of the theory. What if this field of research, like so many others in the social sciences, had been tilted toward producing false positive results?

For decades now, it’s been commonplace for scientists to run studies with insufficient sample sizes or to dig around in datasets with lots of different tools, hoping they might turn up a finding of statistical significance. It’s clear that this approach can gin up phantom signals from a bunch of noise. But it’s worse than that: When researchers go out hunting subtle, true effects with imprecise experiments, their standard ways of testing for significance may exaggerate their findings, or even flip them in the wrong direction. Statistician (and Slate contributor) Andrew Gelman calls this latter research hazard a “type-S” error: one that leads a scientist to assert, with confidence, a relationship that is actually inverse to the truth. When a scientist makes a type-S error, she doesn’t end up with a false positive result so much as an “anti-positive” one; she’s turned the real effect upside down. If she were studying, say, the effect of passing out flyers at a public pool, she might end up thinking that telling people not to litter makes them litter more, instead of less.

It’s easy to imagine how these type-S errors might slither into textbooks. A scientist who found an upside-down result might go on to make a novel and surprising claim, such as: If you tell people one thing, they’ll believe the opposite; or facts can make us dumber; or debunking doesn’t work. Since editors at top-tier scientific journals are often drawn to unexpected data, this mistake might then be published as a major finding in the field, with all the press reports and academic accolades that follow. Gelman, for his part, thinks type-S errors might not be the problem here—that the real issue could be that different people might respond to something like a “don’t litter” flyer in different ways in different contexts, for reasons researchers don’t understand. But no matter the underlying reason, in an environment where surprising data thrive and boring studies wither in obscurity, a theory based on boomerangs will have a clear advantage over other, more mundane hypotheses.

IV.

The first study highlighted by the Post’s Vedantam—the piece of research that helped kick off the modern wave of post-fact panic—is a mess of contradictions.

In late 2004 or early 2005, Ian Skurnik showed a set of undergrads the CDC’s poster about flu vaccine “facts and myths.” According to a data table from a draft version of the study posted on the website of co-author Carolyn Yoon, Skurnik found the students’ memories were very good when they were tested right way: They labeled the flyer’s “myths” as being true in just 3 percent of their responses. Thirty minutes later, though, that figure jumped to 13 percent. By that point, they’d grown foggy on the details—and the flyer’s message backfired.

This made sense to Skurnik and his colleagues. He already knew from prior research that the more you hear a thing repeated, the more reliable it seems: Familiarity breeds truthiness. Now the study of the flyer suggested this effect would hold even when the thing you’ve heard before has been explicitly negated. Imagine a debunking like one shown on the CDC flyer: The flu shot doesn’t cause the flu. Over half an hour, Skurnik’s study argued, the word doesn’t fades away, while the rest of the message sounded ever more familiar—and thus more true.

His CDC flyer data suggested this all happens very quickly—that debunking can boomerang in minutes.

But that notion didn’t fit with data from another study from the same researchers. For that earlier experiment, published in the Journal of Consumer Research in 2005, Skurnik, Yoon, and Norbert Schwarz looked at how college students and senior citizens remembered health claims that were labeled either “true” or “false.” The team found no sign of backfire among the college students after 30 minutes or even after three days. (They did find a boomerang effect for older subjects.)

Meanwhile, the study of the CDC flyer never made its way into a peer-reviewed academic journal. (The research would be summarized in an academic book chapter from 2007.) Vedantam’s write-up for the Post, which claims the study had just been published in a journal, seems to have conflated it with the paper published two years earlier, saying the CDC flyer had been presented both to younger and older subjects and at both a 30-minute and three-day delay.

I asked Skurnik, who’s now an associate professor of marketing at the University of Utah, why his famous flyer study never ended up in print. He said that he and Schwarz had submitted it to Science, but the influential journal decided to reject it because the work had already been described by the New York Times. (I could find no such story in the Times.)

As Skurnik moved along in his career, he says, he allowed “that line of research to get on the back burner.” When others tried to reproduce his research, though, they didn’t always get the same result. Kenzie Cameron, a public health researcher and communications scholar at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, tried a somewhat similar experiment in 2009. She set up her study as a formal clinical trial; instead of testing college undergrads as Skurnik, Yoon, and Schwarz had done, she recruited a racially diverse group of patients over the age of 50, selecting only those who hadn’t gotten vaccinated in the prior year. She mailed each of her subjects a version of the CDC flyer a week before they were due to come in for a checkup. Some of these flyers listed facts and myths in simple statements, others listed only facts, and still others gave specific refutations of the false information.

Cameron had her subjects tested on their knowledge of the flu vaccine on two occasions, once before they’d seen the flyers and again when they came in to see their doctors. She found that every version of the flyer worked: Overall, the patients ended up more informed about the flu vaccine. In fact, the version of the CDC flyer that was closest to the one that Schwarz and Skurnik used ended up the most effective at debunking myths. “We found no evidence that presenting both facts and myths is counterproductive,” Cameron concluded in her paper, which got little notice when it was published in 2013.

There have been other failed attempts to reproduce the Skurnik, Yoon, and Schwarz finding. For a study that came out last June, Briony Swire, Ullrich Ecker, and “Debunking Handbook” co-author Stephan Lewandowsky showed college undergrads several dozen statements of ambiguous veracity (e.g. “Humans can regrow the tips of fingers and toes after they have been amputated”). The students rated their beliefs in each assertion on a scale from 0 to 10, then found out which were facts and which were myths. Finally, the students had to rate their beliefs again, either after waiting 30 minutes or one week. If Skurnik, Yoon, and Schwarz were right, then the debunkings would cause their answers to rebound in the wrong direction: If you tell people one thing, they’ll believe the opposite. But the new study found no sign of this effect. The students’ belief in false statements dropped from a baseline score of 6 down to less than 2 after 30 minutes. While their belief crept back up a bit as time went by, the subjects always remained more skeptical of falsehoods than they’d been at the start. The labels never backfired.

A second study from Ecker and Lewandowsky (along with Joshua Hogan), also out last June, found that corrections to news stories were most effective when they repeated the original misinformation in the context of refuting it. This runs counter to the older theory, that mere exposure to a lie—through a facts-and-myths debunking flyer, for example—makes it harder to unseat. The authors noted that the traditional logic of “effective myth debunking may thus need to be revised.”

In other words, at least one variation of the end-of-facts thesis—that debunking sometimes backfires—had lost its grounding in the data. “I’ve tried reasonably hard to find [this backfire effect] myself, and I haven’t been able to,” Ecker told me recently. Unless someone can provide some better evidence, it may be time to ask if this rule of thumb from social science could represent its own variety of rumor: a myth about how myths spread.

V.

Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler described their study, called “When Corrections Fail,” as “the first to directly measure the effectiveness of corrections in a realistic context.” Its results were grim: When the researchers presented conservative-leaning subjects with evidence that cut against their prior points of view—that there were no stockpiled weapons in Iraq just before the U.S. invasion, for example—the information sometimes made them double-down on their pre-existing beliefs. It looked as though the human tendency to engage in motivated reasoning might be worse than anyone imagined. (Eventually this would form the basis for another section of “The Debunking Handbook.”)

With an election looming in the fall of 2008, Nyhan and Reifler’s work went viral in the media. (The final version of their paper would not be published in an academic journal until 2010.) Vedantam wrote up their findings for the Post, and the story spread from there. It soon became the go-to explanation for partisan recalcitrance. “Perception is reality.
Facts don’t matter
,” wrote Jonathan Chait in the New Republic, linking up the new research to presidential candidate John McCain’s “postmodern” disregard for truth. “If [Nyhan and Reifler’s] finding is broadly correct,” Chait wrote, “then the media’s new-found willingness to fact-check McCain will only succeed in rallying the GOP base to his side.”

Political scientists were just as taken by the Nyhan-Reifler findings. A pair of political science graduate students at the University of Chicago, Tom Wood and Ethan Porter, found the study dazzling. “It really stood out as being among the most provocative possible claims” about the science of public opinion, Wood told me in a recent interview. He and Porter had been reviewing old research on how we’re more responsive to the facts that support our pre-existing points of view. The new paper took this idea a full step further. “It said that your factual ignorance could actually be compounded by exposure to factual information,” Wood says. The implications for democracy were calamitous.

By the time he and Porter had funding for their own study of this phenomenon, in 2015, the idea had grown in scope. Aside from all the media coverage, papers had by then been published showing that the facts could boomerang when Republicans were told that Obamacare’s “death panels” didn’t exist or that climate change could lead to more disease. And the original Nyhan-Reifler paper had become a “citation monster,” Wood says. “It’s four times as cited as any comparably aged paper from the same journal.”

He and Porter decided to do a blow-out survey of the topic. Instead of limiting their analysis to just a handful of issues—like Iraqi WMDs, the safety of vaccines, or the science of global warming—they tried to find backfire effects across 52 contentious issues. Their study would provide corrections of false statements from Hillary Clinton on the effects of gun violence, for instance, and from Donald Trump on the rate of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. They also increased the sample size from the Nyhan-Reifler study more than thirtyfold, recruiting more than 10,000 subjects for their five experiments.

In spite of all this effort, and to the surprise of Wood and Porter, the massive replication effort came up with nothing. That’s not to say that Wood and Porter’s subjects were altogether free of motivated reasoning.
The people in the study did give a bit more credence to corrections that fit with their beliefs; in those situations, the new information led them to update their positions more emphatically. But they never showed the effect that made the Nyhan-Reifler paper famous: People’s views did not appear to boomerang against the facts. Among the topics tested in the new research—including whether Saddam had been hiding WMDs—not one produced a backfire. “We were mugged by the evidence,” says Wood.

Meanwhile, Columbia University graduate students Andy Guess and Alex Coppock were chewing over a similar idea: If you tell people one thing, will they end up believing the opposite? Guess and Coppock had come across the 1979 study by Lord, Ross, and Lepper, which showed that adding facts to a discussion of the death penalty only curdles students’ disagreements. But when the grad students looked more closely at that old paper, they were appalled. “We realized it was not a properly randomized experiment,” says Guess.

“We thought it was BS,” says Coppock.

In 2014, the two of them updated the classic study using what they thought was better methodology. Where Lord, Ross, and Lepper tested 48 undergrads on their views about capital punishment, Guess and Coppock assessed that question with the help of 683 subjects recruited via the internet. For follow-up experiments, they tested how different kinds of evidence affected the views of another 1,170 subjects on the minimum wage, and 2,122 more on gun control. In none of these conditions did they find evidence that people grew more stubborn in their views when presented with disconfirming information.

Instead, the studies showed what Coppock calls “gorgeous parallel updating,” by which he means that people on either side of any issue will adjust their beliefs to better fit the facts. If boomerangs occur, he says, they’re the exception, not the rule. The backfire effect “is a truth-y hypothesis,” he told me. “It feels right, that arguing with idiots just makes them stupider.”

Guess also began to wonder about a third axiom of truthiness: Is it really the case that the internet divides us?

For all the influence of the echo chamber theory, Guess found there was not a lot of real-world data to support it. In 2015, he gained access to a potent data set from an online polling firm, which included three weeks’ worth of website tracking for almost 1,400 individuals, tagged with their demographic info and political affiliations. That meant Guess could test the echo chamber theory in the wild—and he found it didn’t hold. Other recent studies—one by Levi Boxell, Matthew Gentzkow, and Jesse M. Shapiro; another by Jacob L. Nelson and James G. Webster—have supported this result: News consumption on the internet does not appear to be as fractured as we thought.

It wasn’t that the standard work on “partisan exposure” had been wrong. Like-minded people do tend to congregate on social networks, said Guess, and they tend to gab about whatever suits their group. But this clumping up and screening out is not unique to online settings; it happens just as much when we get together in the offline world, watch TV, or scan headlines at the newsstand.

Nor are the basic facts about persuasion all that controversial. Yes, people do engage in motivated reasoning. Yes, it’s true that we prefer to cling to our beliefs. Yes, we do give extra credence to the facts we’ve heard repeated. But each of these ideas has also spawned a more extreme (and more disturbing) corollary—that facts can force the human mind to switch into reverse, that facts can drive us even further from the truth. It’s those latter theories, of boomerangs and backfires, that have grown in prominence in recent years, and it’s those latter theories that have lately had to be revised.

VI.

Even as new facts accumulate in the science of post-facts, the field will likely be slow to change its course. Norbert Schwarz, for one, has been a vocal critic of the replication movement in social psychology, comparing those who question old ideas to global warming denialists: “You can think of this as psychology’s version of the climate-change debate,” he told Nature in 2012, when doubts emerged about research into social priming. “The consensus of the vast majority of psychologists closely familiar with work in this area gets drowned out by claims of a few persistent priming skeptics.”

Skeptics of the boomerang effect have also run afoul of consensus thinking in their field. Guess and Coppock sent their study to the same journal that published the original Lord, Ross, and Lepper paper in 1979, and it was rejected. Then it was passed over four more times. “We’ve reframed it over and over,” Coppock says. “It’s never rejected on the evidence—they don’t dispute the data. It’s that they don’t believe the inference, that backlash doesn’t happen, is licensed from those data.” As a result, their work remains in purgatory, as a posted manuscript that hasn’t made its way to print. (Guess has only just submitted his paper re-examining the echo chamber theory; it’s now under review for the first time.)

Wood and Porter’s study also faced a wall of opposition during the peer review process; after two rejections, it was finally accepted by a journal just last week.

I asked Coppock: Might there be echo chambers in academia, where scholars keep themselves away from new ideas about the echo chamber? And what if presenting evidence against the backfire effect itself produced a sort of backfire? “I really do believe my finding,” Coppock said. “I think other people believe me, too.” But if his findings were correct, then wouldn’t all those peer reviewers have updated their beliefs in support of his conclusion? He paused for a moment. “In a way,” he said, “the best evidence against our paper is that it keeps getting rejected.”

While some colleagues have been reluctant to believe that backfire effects might be rare or nonexistent, there are some notable exceptions. Nyhan and Reifler, in particular, were open to the news that their original work on the subject had failed to replicate. They ended up working with Wood and Porter on a collaborative research project, which came out last summer, and again found no sign of backfire from correcting misinformation. (Wood describes them as “the heroes of this story.”) Meanwhile, Nyhan and Reifler have found some better evidence of the effect, or something like it, in other settings. And another pair of scholars, Brian Schaffner and Cameron Roche, showed something that looks a bit like backfire in a recent, very large study of how Republicans and Democrats responded to a promising monthly jobs report in 2012. But when Nyhan looks at all the evidence together, he concedes that both the prevalence and magnitude of backfire effects could have been overstated and that it will take careful work to figure out exactly when and how they come in play.

Nyhan has been a champion of the replication movement and of using better research methods. He’s written up the newer data on debunking, and the evidence against the echo chamber theory, for the New York Times. And he’s the one who pointed me to the work from Guess and Coppock, calling it “impressive and important.” In terms of reckoning with recent data, says Nyhan, “it would be ironic if I dug in my heels.”

Yet even if boomerangs turn out to be unusual, he says, there’s little cause for optimism. Facts are, at best, “sometimes mildly effective” at displacing grabby lies, and corrections clearly aren’t working “if the standard is getting rid of misperceptions in the world.”

Ullrich Ecker, the debunking expert who failed to reproduce Schwarz and Skurnik’s finding on the boomerang effect for facts and myths, agrees with Nyhan. “If there’s a strong motivation to hold on to a misconception, then often the corrections are ineffective. Whether or not they backfire, that’s up for debate,” he says. “But look, if it’s ineffective, that’s pretty much the same story as if there’s a small backfire effect.”

There’s a vast difference, though, between these two scenarios. In a world where fact-checking doesn’t work, we may get caught in knots of disagreement. In a world where facts can boomerang, those knots may tighten even as we try to pull away. One is frustrating to imagine. The other is horrifying.

Why, then, has the end-of-facts idea gained so much purchase in both academia and the public mind? It could be an example of what the World War II–era misinformation experts referred to as a “bogie” rumor—a false belief that gives expression to our deepest fears and offers some catharsis. It’s the kind of story that we tell one another even as we hope it isn’t true. Back then, there were bogie rumors that the Japanese had sunk America’s entire fleet of ships or that thousands of our soldiers’ bodies had washed ashore in France. Now, perhaps, we blurt out the bogie rumor that a rumor can’t be scotched—that debunking only makes things worse.

Or it could be that our declarations of a post-truth age are more akin to another form of rumor catalogued during the 1940s: the “pipe dream” tale. These are the stories—the Japanese are out of oil; Adolf Hitler is about to be deposed—we tell to make ourselves feel better. Today’s proclamations about the end of facts could reflect some wishful thinking, too. They let us off the hook for failing to arrive at common ground and say it’s not our fault when people think there really is a war on Christmas or a plague of voter fraud. In this twisted pipe-dream vision of democracy, we needn’t bother with the hard and heavy work of changing people’s minds, since disagreement is a product of our very nature or an unpleasant but irresolvable feature of our age.

It’s time we came together to reject this bogus story and the ersatz science of post-truth. If we can agree on anything it should be this: The end of facts is not a fact.

Breathable 5″ Foam Crib and Toddler Bed Standard Mattress

by Avish Dahiya @ Mattresses – Dream On Me

Dream On Me, Two-Sided 5″, mattress introduce a breathe flow technology. Our mattress is designed to fit standard full size cribs it features supreme comfort ,hypo-allergenic, CertiPUR-US certified layer for comfort these mattress are covered with a breathe -flow material on the infant side and a waterproof cover on the toddler side with lock stitch […]

Crib Mattresses Emit High Rates of Potentially Harmful Chemicals, Cockrell School Engineers Find

Crib Mattresses Emit High Rates of Potentially Harmful Chemicals, Cockrell School Engineers Find


UT News | The University of Texas at Austin

Editor's note from UT Austin media relations office on funding: As noted in the release, this study was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Nordic Research Opportunity program, a joint program between NSF and the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes).AUSTIN, Texas  In a first-of-its-kind study, a team of environmental engineers from the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin found that infants are exposed to high levels of chemical emissions from crib mattresses while they sleep.

The 5 Highest Rated Firm (Hard) Mattresses in 2018

by Sarah Cummings @ The Sleep Advisor

The post The 5 Highest Rated Firm (Hard) Mattresses in 2018 appeared first on The Sleep Advisor.

Mom's Guide 2018: The 5 Best Crib Mattresses For Safe Sleep

Mom's Guide 2018: The 5 Best Crib Mattresses For Safe Sleep


MomTricks

Did you know that many popular crib mattresses are unsafe? It's true, but we'll show you 5 great choices that are safe, comfortable and firm.

Idle Sleep Mattress Review

by bestmattress @ Best Mattress Reviews

Idle Sleep offers the best mattresses on the market. This brand provides support, comfort, quality, and durability. What distinguishes Idle Sleep models from traditional models is the two-sided design. In actual fact, two sides are better than one. Introduction And Compare Table The most incredible quality of Idle Sleep models is the two-sided design. The […]

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Best Bed Sheet

by bestmattress @ Best Mattress Reviews

As much as beds and mattresses are essential to a healthy and comfortable life, one cannot overlook the importance of bedsheets. A cozy and comfortable bed can be one of the greatest joys this life has to offer. In order to enjoy the fullest from a bed, it is necessary to have the right kind […]

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Our In-Depth DreamCloud Bed Review for 2018

by Sarah Cummings @ The Sleep Advisor

The post Our In-Depth DreamCloud Bed Review for 2018 appeared first on The Sleep Advisor.

Design Your Own Nursery

by Jonathan @ Carousel Designs Blog

We’ve been hard at work bringing you even more options when making your baby’s nursery extra special and unique.  Our Nursery Designer® allows you to create your own crib bedding as well as visualize how it will look in yourContinue reading... Design Your Own Nursery

Dreamcloud Mattress Review

by bestmattress @ Best Mattress Reviews

A bed is only as comfortable as its mattress. With all the options available, DreamCloud is the best hybrid mattress that will improve your sleep. Unlike conventional brands, this one guarantees the serenest and most comfortable sleep. This model combines the best of tufting, memory foams, latex, and coil technologies to develop 8 hand constructed […]

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Crib Mattresses for the Nursery

Crib Mattresses for the Nursery


Rooms To Go Kids

Affordable crib mattresses for sale. Shop top-rated baby mattresses for your nursery. Find the perfect combination of safety, support & comfort. #iSofa #roomstogo

How to Choose the Best Mattress for Your Baby's Crib

How to Choose the Best Mattress for Your Baby's Crib


Ted & Stacey's Mattress Guides & Reviews

You want the best everything for your baby, but there are always so many options! Read this quick guide to filter the noise and find the best crib mattress!

When a Hurricane Takes Your Home

When a Hurricane Takes Your Home

by Nathalie Baptiste @ Slate Articles

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and has been republished here with permission from Climate Desk.

Five years ago, Superstorm Sandy—a monstrous post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds—struck New York, bringing record-breaking wind gusts and deadly flooding. In New York City, 53 people diednearly half of them were from Staten Island. The Ocean Breeze, Midland Beach, and Dongan Hills communities were especially hard hit, with 11 fatalities.  A few months after the storm, WNYC reporter Matthew Schuerman described the square mile that makes up parts of these communities as “the most dangerous place to be in New York City” during Sandy.

Joe Herrnkind, a middle-aged man who moved to Ocean Breeze in 2000, remembers those days, as he walks through the deserted streets of his once tightknit beach community. Most of the homes have been torn down, and a few are boarded up waiting to be demolished. The homes that do remain are surrounded by empty plots of land where wild turkeys wander. Unlike many other New York victims of Sandy, who have rebuilt their communities, those from these neighborhoods knew that rebuilding was not the best option. Some sold their land to developers, and a few others, like Herrnkind and his neighbors, sold their land to the governor’s office so it can be returned to its natural state.

“We’re a low-lying community,” he says. “We had constant flooding and wildfires. You hear all this and you’re saying, ‘Why would you want to live there?’ ”

Recent hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have all raised the same question: What is to be done with the dozens of towns and cities in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico that have developed infrastructure on vulnerable flood-prone land that routinely requires massive cleanup and rebuilding efforts after each disastrous storm? Altogether, the recent storms could cost up to nearly $400 billion in damages. But some communities and local leaders are starting to realize that this model won’t break the cycle. In Ocean Breeze, instead of rebuilding on vulnerable flood plains, some residents have chosen to leave old neighborhoods behind and let nature take its course.

In 2012, when Sandy approached New York, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered evacuations of nearly 375,000 people in low-lying communities ahead of the storm. Herrnkind gathered his two dogs and left to stay with a friend in New Jersey. Most of his neighbors followed the evacuation orders, but eight or nine families stayed behind. Two of his neighbors died.

Sandy’s peak winds were recorded at 115 miles per hour, and Staten Island saw wind gusts of up to 80 miles per hour. Father Cappodano Boulevard, the main road separating Ocean Breeze from the Atlantic, rose several feet above the side streets. Sandy’s unprecedented 16-foot surge overtopped the roads and poured into homes. A few days later, when Herrnkind was able to return, he had no idea whether his home was going to be standing. The city estimated that more than 300,000 homes were damaged by the storm’s flood.

“An officer told me ‘You can’t go down there,’ ” Herrnkind recalls. When he finally arrived, the water was still nearly waist deep. “It’s still there,” he remembers thinking when he first saw his house. “I have something to work with.” The watermark on a lamppost today shows that the storm surge reached far above his head, which explains why his furniture and all his personal belongings were gone.

Local leaders struggled to respond to the crisis. New York City created Build It Back, a program for rebuilding destroyed and damaged homes. There are more than 8,000 participants and by 2017, the mayor’s office estimates 87 percent of those who enrolled have received compensation, completed construction, or had their homes acquired by the city. But the program has come under criticism. Many homeowners dropped out due to delays. City Comptroller Scott Stringer and City Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents parts of Brooklyn, have been fierce critics of the program. In a letter to Build It Back director Amy Peterson, the two wrote that the number of dropouts “raises serious questions about our City’s ability to mount an efficient and effective recovery operation in the event of a future disaster.” Herrnkind jokingly refers to it as “Build It Wrong.”

After six months of living in his car, which he had parked in front of his abandoned house, and being disappointed by the city’s program, Herrnkind realized “the land itself should never have been built on.” Much of the region was a salt marsh, particularly vulnerable to storm surge and floods. “It was a very low, natural, spongy salt marsh, and it was filled to create homes,” Robert Brauman, a project manager for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection told Curbed New York in 2016, “and that was where the problems started.”

Another option for some homeowners was a program from the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, which has been buying houses that were destroyed or substantially damaged and transforming them to open space and wetlands. The goal is to create a natural coastal buffer that can protect communities from future storms. In late 2013, more than a year after the storm, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Ocean Breeze would join Oakwood Beach as a town eligible for state buyouts, and Herrnkind’s entire block was included. Reluctant to “put someone else in harm’s way,” Herrnkind concluded that he and his neighbors should take advantage of the state buyout program. He was able to sell his home to the state at pre-storm value and move elsewhere on the island.

So far, more than 600 homes have been purchased through the buyout program. Once the sale goes through, the state government demolishes the home and lets nature reclaim the land. Today, Ocean Breeze is mostly empty, but complicating matters are the residents who refuse to leave. In Oakwood Beach, where most of the land is going back to nature, remaining residents struggle with lack of trash pickup and crumbling roads. One of Herrnkind’s former neighbors who stayed behind is an elderly woman who feared her children would put her in a nursing home if she left. Some opted out of the program because they didn’t have the proper paperwork required to sell their homes. Others didn’t want to give up their homes in a community they loved.

But staying behind comes with a cost. According to the New York Times, flood insurance premiums could rise up to 25 percent for homes that were damaged by Sandy.

On Herrnkind’s section of the street, only one home remains out of eight. “Around here, 90 percent of each block went,” he says, “and only one or two people stayed.” Just down the street from where Herrnkind used to live, more turkeys mill about on empty lots where homes used to be.

Herrnkind’s former neighbor Frank Moszczynski, a tall man with a large presence, took the state buyout and moved to another neighborhood on Staten Island. He doesn’t have much sympathy for someone who willingly stays in a vulnerable area. “Why should … emergency workers have to go out and risk their lives for someone who chose to stay in harm’s way?” he asks pointedly. Today, the only thing protecting Ocean Breeze from another storm is a 4-foot hill of sand.

Across the street from the vacant lot he used to call home, Herrnkind stands on the beach looking at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and Brooklyn’s Coney Island, a view he used to be able to see from his bedroom window. “If it weren’t for Sandy,” he says, “I’d still be here.”

The 6 Best Mattress Picks For Under $1000 – 2018 Edition

by Sarah Cummings @ The Sleep Advisor

The post The 6 Best Mattress Picks For Under $1000 – 2018 Edition appeared first on The Sleep Advisor.

An Allegation, Then a Prestigious Professorship

An Allegation, Then a Prestigious Professorship

by Daniel Engber @ Slate Articles

On Monday, I reported that Todd Heatherton, an expert on the psychology of self-control and one of three Dartmouth neuroscientists now under criminal investigation for sexual misconduct, allegedly groped a 21-year-old graduate student at an academic conference in February 2002. On Wednesday, a former colleague of Heatherton’s—Jennifer Groh, now a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University—posted details of a separate alleged groping incident from the same winter. Groh says she reported that incident to Dartmouth’s associate dean of social sciences a few days after it happened. A few months later, the school provided Heatherton with a prestigious named professorship.

Groh summarized this episode in an Oct. 14 email to Dartmouth’s dean of faculty and the school’s vice president for institutional diversity and equity. She sent that email after learning that Heatherton—along with colleagues Bill Kelley and Paul Whalen—had come under scrutiny this year for what the school has variously described in statements as “sexual misconduct” and “serious misconduct.” Groh says that after sending that email, she subsequently shared her story with both Dartmouth’s investigator and representatives of local law enforcement. On Wednesday, she posted a copy of her email to a private Facebook page. The Valley News of West Lebanon, New Hampshire, first reported on this posting Wednesday evening.

The alleged incident that Groh described happened during a graduate recruiting event for the Department of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences in 2002. Multiple former students and faculty members who spent time at PBS have told me these events were occasions for excessive drinking. One professor remembers bottles of whiskey being passed around, and his colleagues doing shots with grad school applicants. A former student in the department recalls a recruit getting “blasted out of his mind” and vomiting. “They were applauding it,” this student said. “They were like, ‘This guy’s definitely coming.’ ”

Groh was not present at the recruiting event in 2002; she says she first heard stories about the incident from other members of the faculty. The alleged victim met with her in private a few days later, Groh says, for a “very solemn” conversation. According to Groh, this graduate student told her that Heatherton had placed his hands on both her breasts at the event, while at the same time criticizing her performance in the lab. “ ‘You’re really not doing very well,’ ” Groh remembers the student saying, quoting the words Heatherton had allegedly said to her.

A few days after speaking with the graduate student, Groh says, she described the alleged incident to the associate dean for social sciences, Richard Wright. She doesn’t remember the details of their conversation but says she got the sense that she “was not the first person to tell him about it,” and that “he felt the behavior was inappropriate.” She did not hear anything further on the matter, and she was not aware of any formal response from the administration. (Wright declined to comment.)

Another former member of the faculty in Dartmouth’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences says he was aware in 2002 of the allegation that Heatherton had groped a graduate student, and that he was also aware that Groh had reported it. “I knew that story, and was familiar with that story, before [Groh] posted it [on Wednesday],” he told me. “Her story is consistent with my recollection.”

On Wednesday, Dartblog published a statement from one of Heatherton’s attorneys. It read, in full:

Dartmouth was aware of this incident 15 years ago, investigated it, and determined it was accidental and totally unintentional—not a sexual touching at all. Therefore, the College determined that there was no need for any disciplinary action.
There is absolutely nothing in Todd’s personnel file about this.

Heatherton’s attorneys provided Slate with the same statement, adding that “neither [Heatherton] nor his attorneys are going to answer other questions.”

Groh’s response to the statement: “The student conveyed to me that she was touched on both breasts with both hands. She conveyed that she perceived it as inappropriate.”

Within a few months of the alleged incident, Heatherton received the school’s Champion International Professorship—an honor that is “intended to recognize and reward members of the Dartmouth faculty whose teaching is true to the highest standards of Dartmouth’s educational mission and whose scholarship has contributed to the advancement of knowledge in their chosen fields.” The title comes with a “modest research stipend,” a Dartmouth representative said on Thursday.

Groh was upset to learn of this appointment. “I was immensely frustrated and disappointed,” she told me.

The alleged incident between Heatherton and the graduate student would come up again in 2005, when Groh was up for tenure. Heatherton had taken over as chairman of the department, and Groh—who asserts that she’d been very successful at securing grant funding—felt her promotion was being unfairly delayed. In the meantime, Bill Kelley, who had arrived at Dartmouth three years after she did, was given tenure. “I felt that was fishy,” she says. It occurred to her that her reporting of the alleged incident from 2002 might have been one of several factors in her tenure being delayed. She filed a complaint with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, and, according to Groh, a formal investigation was launched. Groh doesn’t remember if she brought up the 2002 report specifically in her complaint. The woman who Groh says led this investigation, Michelle Meyers, has since died. The director of Dartmouth’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity at the time of this complaint did not respond to an interview request. A Dartmouth representative said the school “cannot comment on the details of a personnel matter” and that the tenure process is confidential.

Groh says her tenure case went very smoothly after she filed that complaint with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity. Heatherton stepped down from his role as department chairman in October 2005, after just one-and-a-half years in the position. Associate Dean for Social Sciences Michael Mastanduno announced that move in an email to PBS faculty. (Groh provided me with this email.) Mastanduno’s message did not mention the complaint against Heatherton. In light of “an extraordinarily complex set of opportunities” for the department, the email said, Heatherton agreed that “it is best that he step down as Chair prior to the end of his expected term so that he can focus on [a multi-laboratory neuroscience grant], his own research, and the social brain sciences initiative.” Mastanduno also asked the faculty “to join [him] in thanking Todd [Heatherton] for his outstanding efforts on behalf of the department.” Heatherton remained the school’s Champion International professor until 2010, at which point he was named the Lincoln Filene professor of human relations, a title he holds today.

Groh left Dartmouth in 2006. “It wasn’t a good fit for me professionally, and it wasn’t a culture that I wanted to be a part of,” she told me.

Update, Nov. 18, 6:55 p.m.: Todd Heatherton’s name has been removed from web pages relating to the two psychology textbooks he co-authored for W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Psychological Science, written with Michael Gazzaniga and Diane Halpern, first came out in 2003, with a sixth edition due out next year. Psychology in Your Life, written with Gazzaniga and Sarah Grison, was first published in 2015 and is now in its second edition. Heatherton is no longer listed among the authors of these books at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, or WWNorton.com, though his name appears on the covers of those books, and can be found on cached versions of some bookseller web pages. Meanwhile, Heatherton’s author page on the W. W. Norton website now lists only the defunct Canadian edition of Psychological Science. A cached version of that page from earlier this month includes the American editions of both books. Neither W. W. Norton nor Heatherton has responded to a request for comment.

Have information you'd like to share? Email us at tips@slate.com.

Top 5 Serta Adjustable Mattresses

by Star Newcomb @ The Sleep Judge

Platform Beds vs Box Spring Beds

by Lindsay S @ Choose Mattress

At the end of the day, we all need to sleep, right? That too on a comfortable bed! Nothing beats the feeling of getting into a comfortable bed and looking forward to a good nights sleep at the end of a hard days work. When it comes to beds, depending on the kind of comfort you need, you have many options to choose from, however the two most common types of beds to pick from are the platform bed or the box spring bed. Any idea which one you are using currently? Unless you have actively purchased one in the

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Choosing a Safe Mattress for Your Baby's Crib

Choosing a Safe Mattress for Your Baby's Crib


EWG

During the first few years of their lives, infants can spend most of their time sleeping or crawling in the crib. Choosing children’s products that are good for air quality in the baby’s room can be a difficult task.

Breathable 6″ Little Butterflies 2-in-1 Foam Core Crib and Toddler Bed Mattress

by Avish Dahiya @ Mattresses – Dream On Me

Dream On Me, Breathable 6 Inch Core Mattress is a 2 in 1 full size foam mattress that offers you the freedom of choice and is the answer to your babies comfort and support which includes a breathe flow technology. The hypoallergenic, anti bacterial, CertiPUR-US certified layers mattress is covered with a breath-flow material on […]

The Best Crib Mattress 2018: Top 5 Compared

The Best Crib Mattress 2018: Top 5 Compared


Choose Mattress

Read our toddler and crib mattress reviews for a no-nonsense buying guide to see which is the best baby mattress for the money in 2018.

The 6 Best Rated Hybrid Beds – 2018 Reviews & Comparisons

by Mark Reddick @ The Sleep Advisor

The post The 6 Best Rated Hybrid Beds – 2018 Reviews & Comparisons appeared first on The Sleep Advisor.

Happsy Organic Crib Mattress

Happsy Organic Crib Mattress


Happsy.com

Mother Nature and parent approvedParents want the best for their babies and the Happsy organic baby crib mattress delivers. The Happsy crib mattress is mad...

Could Ivana Trump Have Conceived Three Children While She Had an IUD?

Could Ivana Trump Have Conceived Three Children While She Had an IUD?

by Eleanor Cummins @ Slate Articles

Ivana Trump’s recent memoir Raising Trump is a breezy account of her central role in bringing up three of America’s most powerful children. As she tells it, her life was a series of ski trips and interior redesigns packed between working at her husband’s company and raising her kids. Her ex-husband and our current President Donald Trump seems largely absent, stopping in only to worry whether his namesake might grow up to “be a loser.” But even with that, the most horrifying part of her autobiography is undoubtedly her assertion that she conceived all three of her children while having an IUD.

It all starts on Page 59 of the book when Ivana makes mention of the circumstances surrounding the conception of her first child, Donald Trump Jr.:

Incredibly, I got pregnant on the honeymoon. Why so incredible? At the time, I had an IUD implanted in my uterus. The odds of conceiving with the coil were miniscule. I always thought I was a one-in-a-million woman, but this was ridiculous.

Within five pages, she’s gone through two more IUDs—and two more children:

For birth control, I considered going on the Pill, but I knew I’d forget to take it at the same time every day. With some misgivings, I had another IUD put in. Three years later, the same thing happened! I got pregnant with Ivanka despite having the device
[…]
A new IUD went in, and the doctors swore up and down it was going to work this time. ‘Ivana, you will not get pregnant!’ they said.
A year and a half later, Eric was conceived.

That’s right—every single one of the Trump triad apparently exists in spite of their mother’s repeated efforts to shut down the factory. That seems alarming regardless of the form of birth control to which you subscribe. But if, like Ivana, you have an intrauterine device or rely on one, these stories are only that much more terrifying. Indeed, you might be screaming how is this possible?

So, I called Dr. Jen Gunter, the internet’s favorite OB-GYN, to get some answers. She says that what Ivana Trump describes in her memoir is certainly possible—but it is statistically improbable. “Obviously, IUDs aren’t perfect, they have a failure rate,” Gunter says. Back in the 1980s, some European IUDs, which Gunter suspects is what a wealthy woman like Ivana Trump would have likely chosen for herself in that time, could have failure rates in the neighborhood of 2 percent. “But you’re still looking at less than 2 percent. A 2 percent failure rate in your next pregnancy, and a 2 percent failure rate in your next pregnancy,” Gunter says. “That’s a little weird.”

By describing it all as a “little weird,” Gunter is being generous: If the IUDs were not compromised in some way, and if we generously round up to a firm 2 percent failure rate, the statistical chance of Trump experiencing three pregnancies while using this form of birth control is 0.0008 percent, making it the kind of statistical disaster that would befall no more than 8 in every 1 million women—or at least, that would be the expected rate 30-plus years ago. Modern American versions of the IUD have dramatically lower failure rates—we’re talking between 0.1 and 0.8 percent—making Ivana’s dramatic childbirthing triptych even more improbable today.

Another thing that could explain Ivana’s situation is that her IUDs were not working perfectly. In a blog post on the very topic of Ivana Trump’s pregnancies, Gunter writes about women who have IUD failures and notes that this can happen multiple times before the cause is discovered. In cases where women’s IUDs repeatedly fail, doctors first wonder if it’s the result of a physical abnormality: Fibroids, benign tumors, and even curvatures of the uterus can knock the IUD out of its ideal resting place. Other times, women suffer from “expulsions” where the uterus kicks the IUD out, sometimes without its owner even realizing until she finds out she's pregnant. But whatever the cause, we can all agree that, as Gunter puts it, “After two failures you’d think, ‘Are you sure this is what you want to continue with?’ ”

There are, of course, many alternatives to IUDs. But it seems that Ivana might not have had another good choice that she wanted to try. Gunter writes in her blog that Donald Trump apparently “hates condoms.” Regardless of whether that’s a fair inference to draw from the president’s “jokes,” it seems safe to infer that the couple didn’t want to solve their problem through condom use, which, to be fair, is also not fail-safe. As Ivana notes herself, she wasn’t interested in taking on the daily tedium of the pill. And ultimately it seems the couple was actually happy about each pregnancy, so perhaps she didn’t switch because she wasn’t actually that bothered by the situation. As she writes in the book, after she had Eric, she decided to have her tubes tied, which is by far the most reliable—and permanent—form of birth control.

Still, the improbability of Ivana Trump’s claims, combined with their very public nature, has pushed Gunter to propose some alternate theories. Perhaps the stories were framed in such a way that stressed the family’s commitment to keeping unplanned pregnancies. “It’s possible it’s an anti-abortion dog whistle,” Gunter said, who admits that she also hasn’t read the book and has “a thousand other books” she’d want to read before this one. Or maybe they are just there as an attempt to flatter her ex-husband. Gunter’s blog post is titled “Does Ivana Trump want us to believe The Donald has super sperm?” In it she writes, “The other [theory] is, ‘My god, Donald has the best sperm ever. He’s just shooting the best sperm out of his Trump tower.’ ” Knowing our president, this explanation, while disturbing on multiple levels, does not seem implausible.

Ultimately, Ivana Trump’s uterine dramas are great fodder for a memoir, but they’re no reason to freak out about the efficacy of IUDs. It’s still the most reliable form of birth control, and the statistics are in your favor. Plus, here’s a useful tip from a Broadly article explaining a similar situation, in which a woman got pregnant after her IUD failed and took a photo of the resulting baby holding the device: Spend the money you save on tampons and pads (IUDs often stop your period) on a stock of pregnancy tests for peace of mind. And if the type of birth control you are using fails or turns out to not be ideal, there are still numerous other options (pills, patches, condoms, spermicides—you name it) that might work better for you, and it’s your doctor’s job to help you find the method that’s best for you.

While we may never know exactly what was going on with Ivana Trump’s uterus, one thing does seem clear: Her ex-husband has always been out to undermine birth control.

Should Pregnant Women Buy Pregnancy Pillows?

by Lindsay S @ Choose Mattress

A pillow provides many benefits, and there are several different types to suit each usage too. In fact, there is a pillow that can help with almost any type of rest, seating, or laying down position. Whether it’s a goose down pillow for luxurious bed time sleep, a wedge pillow for helping position whilst catching up on TV shows, or a neck pillow for traveling, these little wonders are everywhere, and very much needed too. One of the common and somewhat essential types required by women today are known as pregnancy pillows. Simply put, these are specially designed to suit

The post Should Pregnant Women Buy Pregnancy Pillows? appeared first on Choose Mattress.

How To Tell If You Have Bed Bugs

by bellax @ Best Mattress Reviews

Bed bugs are diminutive, elliptical, healthy-looking insects; they feed on animal or human blood. They belong to insect family Cimicidae. Adult bedbugs have plane bodies about 5 mm long. They live in cracks and crevices in and around the bed. Their color varies due to the amount of blood some are yellowish brown and some […]

The post How To Tell If You Have Bed Bugs appeared first on Best Mattress Reviews.

How to Clean a Crib Mattress

How to Clean a Crib Mattress


LIVESTRONG.COM

Considering how much time your baby spends sleeping, keeping the mattress clean is imperative. Between dust mites and inevitable leaky diapers, your baby’s crib mattress can become quite dirty over time. As susceptible as young immune systems are to germs already, regular cleaning of your baby’s mattress goes a long way to keeping them...

What the Gardasil Testing May Have Missed

What the Gardasil Testing May Have Missed

by Frederik Joelving @ Slate Articles

Read a companion piece from Slate’s science editor on this investigation.

On a sunny autumn day three years ago, when Kesia Lyng was 30, she had a visit from her youngest sister, Eva. The two were close, and as they sat at the kitchen table in Lyng’s apartment, Eva confronted her chronically ill sibling with a painful fact: “You almost can’t take care of your own kids,” she told her. “You can’t keep pushing yourself so hard.”

Lyng, who was living with her husband and their two children in a lusterless part of Copenhagen, Denmark, had been struggling for years with inexplicable health problems: joint and muscle pains that came and left, powerful headaches, and a crushing exhaustion that even copious amounts of sleep could not cure. She was working part-time in the kitchen of her daughter’s kindergarten, the latest in a string of odd jobs. But her sick days had begun to multiply again. Often she would call her husband at work, sobbing from weariness, and ask to be picked up. At home, she was drained, with no energy to clean or cook or tuck the kids in bed. In her medical records, which she shared with me, her doctor noted that she was “having a very difficult time” and that she worried about losing her job if she asked for a sick leave.

On bad days, Lyng’s symptoms were incapacitating. “Your body is so tired you almost can’t move. Everything hurts. It hurts just to stretch, it hurts to get up. Your feet feel like big blocks. There’s this burning sensation in your body and the feeling that your muscles are about to cramp. Even small things, like having to go and buy milk, can be completely overwhelming,” she told me recently. “I’ve been incredibly frustrated at my body, because it’s so limiting.”

The trouble began in late 2002, just before Lyng turned 19. At first it felt like the flu, but there was no improvement. In the mornings, her body was stiff and achy and she found it increasingly hard to rise. When she was able to get up and go to school, she often fell asleep during class. If she ventured more than a few minutes away from home, she would nap on park benches or in cafes to summon the energy to get back. Eventually, she dropped out of school.

The abrupt transformation baffled people around the teenager. They saw a gregarious tomboy turn into someone who kept breaking dates, spent much of her time in bed, and used painkillers nonstop. “We thought it was a depression,” her friend Nanna Voltolina recalled. “She couldn’t do the same things as the rest of us. It was difficult for me to understand.”

Just before Lyng got sick, she had signed up to participate in a clinical trial of a then-experimental vaccine: Merck’s Gardasil was supposed to prevent infection from human papillomavirus, or HPV, a sexually transmitted disease. The virus causes no harm in the vast majority of people. But some HPV types can lead to genital warts, and others have been found to play a role in nearly all cases of cervical cancer, a malignancy that will affect 6 in 1,000 U.S. women at some point during their life. Lyng’s grandmother had died of cervical cancer the year before, so when a letter arrived offering her $500 to take part in a crucial international test of Gardasil, the decision was easy. She got her first shot of the vaccine at Hvidovre Hospital in Copenhagen on Sept. 19, 2002.

The symptoms snuck up on her shortly after her second shot on Nov. 14. They never abated. It wasn’t until 2016 that she received her diagnosis—chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The little-understood condition was once dismissed by many as a psychological problem, but is now recognized as a serious long-term illness that may have its roots in abnormal immune responses. There is no established treatment.

In recent years, Lyng has become suspicious that there is a connection between her disease and her Gardasil immunization. Her ailments evoke descriptions found in hundreds of news stories from women who also received the vaccine, as well as several medical case reports from around the world. As these stories began to make headlines, HPV-vaccination rates in Denmark and elsewhere have tumbled and controversy has erupted. Many pointed out, rightly, that the accounts amounted to no more than anecdotal evidence, and that none of them cited data proving that the vaccine had actually caused any harm. The women might have gotten sick anyway, as Lyng might have; indeed, one recent epidemiological study found no increased risk of CFS in Norwegian girls following Gardasil vaccination.

It’s also true that more than 80 million girls and women have been vaccinated against HPV, and the vast majority have suffered no more than temporary discomfort at the injection site. In an emailed statement, Merck said it was “confident” in Gardasil’s safety profile, which “was established in clinical trials involving more than 25,000 females and males” and examined further in several surveillance studies. It also pointed out that regulators had found no scientific support for some of the most heavily publicized concerns, which focused on a couple of serious neurological disorders seen in vaccinated girls. Twice, the firm emphasized to me that according to the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the benefits of HPV vaccines “continue to outweigh their risks.” Health authorities across the globe share this view. Repeatedly, they have issued reassurances about the thorough randomized trials the vaccines were subjected to before approval. Such studies have long been researchers’ best yardstick to judge if something is a real risk or just a fluke. As the NIH’s National Cancer Institute notes on its website, all three HPV vaccines on the market today “have been tested in tens of thousands of people in the United States and many other countries. Thus far, no serious side effects have been shown to be caused by the vaccines.”

An eight-month investigation by Slate found the major Gardasil trials were flawed from the outset, however, and that regulators allowed unreliable methods to be used to test the vaccine’s safety. While these flaws do not mean Gardasil caused the rare crippling illnesses reported by the media, they are troubling. Public health officials use trials like these both to determine safety and, as evidenced by Merck’s statement above, to reassure the public when concerns like the ones about Gardasil arise. A flawed study design can complicate both tasks.

What is special about Lyng’s case is that she got sick during a clinical test—indeed, the largest-ever randomized placebo-controlled trial of Gardasil—years before the vaccine was approved (which it was, in 2006, in both Europe and the U.S.). Drug regulators tend to look much more seriously at potential side effects that surface during a pre-licensure study, which is what Lyng participated in, rather than after a product has already been found to be safe and been put on the market. But regulators never learned of Lyng’s plight. In fact, her repeated complaints of debilitating symptoms were not even registered in the study as potential side effects (“adverse events,” in medical parlance).

Lyng’s experience was not unique. Interviews with five study participants and more than 2,300 pages of documents obtained through freedom-of-information requests from hospitals and health authorities suggest inadequacies built into Merck’s major clinical tests of Gardasil. To track the safety of its product, the drugmaker used a convoluted method that made objective evaluation and reporting of potential side effects impossible during all but a few weeks of its yearslong trials. At all other times, individual trial investigators used their personal judgment to decide whether or not to report any medical problem as an adverse event—essentially, as a potential side effect worth evaluating further. Other health issues went on a worksheet for “new medical history,” reserved for conditions that bore no relation to the vaccine. This study design put the cart before the horse, asking investigators to decide which symptoms might be side effects, rather than tracking everything in the same way. While the company now says otherwise, there is no indication in the confidential study protocol that it submitted to regulators for approval that it would use new medical history as a safety metric. And it hardly would have qualified as such: The worksheet allotted just one line per entry, with no measurement of symptom severity, duration, outcome, or overall seriousness. Even if the company then used the data in subsequent safety assessments, the lack of detail would have hampered meaningful analysis.

European health regulators worried about Merck’s methods during a review of the company’s marketing application for Gardasil 9, the latest version of the vaccine, but have not made their concerns public. In an internal 2014 EMA report about Gardasil 9 obtained through a freedom-of-information request, senior experts called the company’s approach “unconventional and suboptimal” and said it left some “uncertainty” about the safety results. EMA trial inspectors made similar observations in another report, noting that Merck’s procedure was “not an optimal method of collecting safety data, especially not systemic side effects that could appear long after the vaccinations were given.”

“If I were a research subject, I would feel betrayed,” Trudo Lemmens, a bioethicist and professor of health law and policy at the University of Toronto, told me. “If the purpose of a clinical trial is to establish the safety and efficacy of a new product, whether it’s a vaccine or something else, I would expect that they gathered all relevant data, including whether it had side effects or not.”

Merck, which is known as Merck Sharp & Dohme outside the U.S. and Canada, did not address the EMA’s safety concerns. But it said its clinical trials follow “laws, regulations and guidelines” wherever they take place, and proceed only after approval by regulators and ethics committees. The company also stressed that “collection of New Medical History occurred at each study visit and was mandatory for all study subjects. New Medical History includes the collection of non-serious adverse events.”

When I asked the EMA to expand on its confidential observations, I was told by email that the concerned inspectors had, after all, considered the trial data to be usable. The company had successfully mollified the agency during preapproval discussions. “The clarification from the applicant that collection of new medical history data was mandatory for all subjects, and did not appear to be passively collected, but for at each study visit [sic], was found to be reassuring,” the EMA informed me. “Therefore, it appeared that the safety surveillance in the studies captured all medically relevant events.” The agency did not comment on the limitations of relying on “new medical history” instead of straightforward reporting of adverse events.

Underreporting of adverse events, to the extent that it occurred here, is nothing new to medicine. Trial investigators often miss participants’ symptoms, researchers say, and the data they do collect may not always see the light of day. A review out in 2016 found “strong evidence that much of the information on adverse events remains unpublished and that the number and range of adverse events is higher in unpublished than in published versions of the same study.” In 2009, Dr. John Ioannidis of Stanford University put the problem succinctly in an Archives of Internal Medicine editorial titled “Adverse Events in Randomized Trials: Neglected, Restricted, Distorted, and Silenced.”

Much less clear is how adverse events are handled during the actual conduct of clinical trials, and what the impact is. Are symptoms recorded as separate entities when they are really part of a larger constellation of health problems? Do they appear as innocuous one-time occurrences when in fact they are, or may become, chronic? And how many safety problems are simply missed because of short follow-up?

* * *

Lyng’s was no isolated case: At least five other Danish women say they developed chronic health problems during the trial. Future 2, as it is known, enrolled more than 12,000 young women from 13 countries, including the U.S. It was the larger of the two major randomized, placebo-controlled Gardasil trials—technically known as pivotal trials—that Merck conducted to support its marketing application for the vaccine. (The other study, less than half the size, was called Future 1.) Together, the two trials account for a large portion of the data that drug regulators in both the U.S. and Europe used to judge Gardasil’s safety before it was approved.

At Aalborg University Hospital, one of the Future 2 trial sites in Denmark, Miam Donslund began to experience persistent flu-like symptoms as well as two infections, one of which required hospitalization, shortly after immunization. These incidents were recorded, but again only as new medical history, meaning they were not processed as adverse events.

Donslund, now 38, told me she became so tired during the trial that at one point she was accused of being a drug addict. The year after she was vaccinated, she developed severe pains that forced her to use a wheelchair for a while; today she regularly uses crutches. Doctors have told her she might have psoriatic arthritis, but she never received a definite diagnosis. More than a dozen years later, “I work two days a week and the rest of the time I’m at home in bed and I can’t do the most basic things,” she said.

Stine Sørensen, 34, got her first shot of Gardasil a few months after Lyng, also at Hvidovre Hospital. Around this time, she began to experience general discomfort, headaches, and a profound fatigue that often made her miss school. “My mom and dad asked me, ‘Stine, are you on drugs?’ And I clearly remember that I got so angry,” she told me. Sørensen, who is currently employed under a special agreement for people with chronic illness, says she told study personnel about her problems during the trial; her records mention none of them. (All three women received the vaccine in the trial.)

The trial investigator who dealt with both Lyng and Sørensen, Dr. Anette Kjærbye-Thygesen, an OB-GYN at Hvidovre, declined to be interviewed for this story. In an email, a hospital press officer told me, “Regarding registration of various symptoms and health data, the doctor states that she has followed the trial protocol.” The hospital also declined to address my questions.

Imagining a link between HPV vaccination and CFS is not all that far-fetched, according to Dr. Jose Montoya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University and a CFS expert. The condition usually starts with an insult to the immune system—a severe infection, a car crash, a pregnancy. The first symptoms are flu-like, but months go by and the patient realizes she isn’t getting better. In a few genetically predisposed individuals, Montoya told me, it is “biologically plausible” that the vaccine, which mimics a natural infection, could also trigger an immune response powerful enough to lead to CFS. To find out if that is the case, trial investigators would need to carefully track participants’ symptoms “for at least one year,” he said.

Montoya was also quick to tell me that he is “pro-vaccine,” and he doesn’t think people should stop getting them. His eagerness to make that point underscores a larger issue with unpacking the shortcomings of Merck’s research: Acknowledging any uncertainty around the safety of vaccination can be a difficult exercise for health authorities, not least because of the debunked autism scare that continues to stoke anti-vax sentiments among parents. In today’s polarized conversation, either you believe vaccines are categorically safe, or you think they are so dangerous that you avoid them at significant personal risk.

But this is a false dichotomy that belies the complexity of medicine. Safety is not an absolute. Like drugs, vaccines are a varied lot, each with its own set of risks and benefits that relate to its particular use in particular individuals. And unfortunately, our knowledge about side effects is often woefully incomplete. To Lemmens, the University of Toronto bioethicist, the reluctance to have a frank discussion about the safety of Gardasil is counterproductive. “We do a disservice to science, and we play into the hand of the anti-vaxxers, if we’re not publicly discussing potential problems,” he told me.

* * *

Before I sent them to her, Lyng had never seen her trial records, which are owned by Merck. As we looked through them together, on a balmy day in August, she grew visibly upset. “What’s the use of testing a vaccine if you don’t register everything properly?” said Lyng, a pale and reedy woman with light-blue eyes. “It had enormous consequences for my life.”

We were sitting outside the house that she and her husband had recently bought on the outskirts of a small town near Copenhagen. There are fields at the end of their street, and a school just opposite their house that the children now attend. Lyng had been fired from her job as a kitchen helper in late 2014, but her sickness benefits and her husband’s salary kept the family afloat. The extra time to herself and her CFS diagnosis also gave her some peace of mind. Over the years, she had been diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder, depression, even “soft” bipolar.
None of these diagnoses fully explained her problems, she felt. Why would she get sudden fevers and rashes that would disappear again just as suddenly? Why would her body hurt on some days and not others? Why would she need to rest for two weeks if she had volunteered to plan the menu for her church’s New Year’s Eve party? The diagnosis gave her at least one answer.

In Lyng’s records from Future 2, we discovered, there was no mention of fatigue, one of her most debilitating symptoms. Meanwhile, her family doctor began documenting the problem on March 20, 2003, nine days after she got her third and final shot of Gardasil. In 2004, after several lab tests and specialist consultations had come up empty, he noted that Lyng continued to have “periods of headache, fatigue, pain in large and small joints, poor concentration and sleep problems. Her mood is fluctuating. There has been no suspicion of depression.”

Lyng told me she brought up her symptoms with study personnel at every visit during the four-year trial. (Trial subjects met with investigators regularly over four years, but the later visits were meant to monitor the vaccine’s efficacy—in this case, whether it prevented HPV-linked cell changes.) She even told them her illness had forced her to quit school. But no one seemed to take her seriously: “They keep saying, ‘This is not the kind of side effects we see with this vaccine.’ ”

Kjærbye-Thygesen, the trial investigator who saw Lyng, and a staffer with the initials “BW,” presumably a nurse, did report the headache and the joint pain, and also gastroenteritis and influenza, but not as adverse events. Instead, they used the worksheet for medical history, which directed investigators to list “Any new background or concomitant conditions, drug allergies and surgeries/procedures.” A note in the records, initialed by Kjærbye-Thygesen, said the vaccine was “hardly” to blame for Lyng’s joint pains, offering no further explanation.

Despite the oxymoronic instruction to list new conditions as history, this was no mistake. Merck’s study protocol shows that for participants outside the U.S. and the U.K., who made up the majority of the trial, only adverse events that investigators considered serious were to be reported. Other health complaints would be registered in much less detail as new medical history. (In the U.S. and the U.K., both serious and nonserious events were reportable.)

In all the trial locations, Merck also chose to restrict the reporting of adverse events—what the study protocol calls the “clinical follow-up for safety”—to just 14 days following each of the three Gardasil injections in the trial. Illness occurring outside these narrow time slots again was relegated to a single line on the medical-history worksheet, whereas for each adverse event, several assessments would need to be carried out and reported. There was an exception: Deaths or serious adverse events brought to the investigator’s attention and felt to be related to the vaccine or a study procedure were to be reported at any time. This design put individual investigators in charge of deciding, for most of the trial’s duration, what would be assessed and reported as a potential side effect.

(Future 1 did report nonserious adverse events for all, but it relied on the same short follow-up as Future 2 and also labeled many adverse events as new medical history.)

Experts I talked to were baffled by the way Merck handled safety data in its trials. According to Dr. Yoon Loke, a professor at the University of East Anglia who studies side effects, letting investigators judge whether adverse events should be reported is “not a very safe method of doing things, because it allows bias to creep in.” In essence, this feature meant that if you started out thinking the vaccine was safe, you would be less likely to find potential side effects. Of the short follow-up, Loke told me, “It’s not going to pick up serious long-term issues, which is a pity. Presumably, the regulators believe that the vaccine is so safe that they don’t need to worry beyond 14 days.”

A drug-safety adviser at a multinational pharmaceutical company told me, “Everything from the first injection to the last plus a follow-up period is what we call treatment-emergent adverse events.” She puzzled over the brief, interrupted follow-up periods in the Gardasil trials, as well as Merck’s choice not to report nonserious adverse events for all participants and its dismissal of many events as medical history. “This is completely bonkers,” she said, requesting not to be named for fear of compromising her position in the industry. “They’ve set up a protocol that seems very poorly thought through from a medical and safety perspective.”

According to the EMA’s emailed statement, “The scope of adverse experience collection in the clinical program for Gardasil reflected the standard across vaccine programs of this company.” It added, “The standard follow-up for a non-replicating vaccine [such as Gardasil] has been 14 days (Days 1 to 15) following each vaccination.”

There are no rules dictating the exact duration of adverse-event reporting in vaccine trials. For some studies, it can be measured in days; for others, it runs from start to finish, with all events recorded the same way regardless of their possible link to the vaccine. Indeed, reviews from 2005 and 2013 found striking variation in how vaccine researchers collected, analyzed, and presented safety data. The field has since seen efforts toward standardization, and health authorities are increasingly recognizing that some side effects may occur late. In guidelines published this year, the World Health Organization noted that while most vaccine side effects occur within two weeks, there may be “reasons to suspect that illnesses with onset many months after the last dose could be related to prior vaccination.”

Lyng and I also read the definition of “serious adverse experience” on the worksheets that investigators had to fill out at each visit following a vaccination. It included events resulting in “persistent or significant disability/incapacity,” meaning a “substantial disruption of a person’s ability to conduct normal life functions.” On all the forms, the only checked box was the one that said “None.” Was this an error? Arguably not, because Lyng’s symptoms, as recorded by the study personnel, began three to four weeks after her second shot—outside the protocol’s mandatory follow-up for safety.

A press officer from the Danish Medicines Agency, which approved Future 2 in 2002, pointed out that Merck’s study protocol contained no mention of “new medical history” or “new medical conditions.” In an email, she wrote, “We are also not aware of whether this category has been used in other clinical trials with drugs, as these are not terms that are used according to guidelines.”

She added that there had been no concerns at her agency over the safety testing in Future 2. “The safety measurements complied with applicable guidelines for vaccines,” she told me, adding that the 14-day follow-up “is in accordance with EMA’s scientific guidelines for vaccines.”

* * *

It was a description of a 15-year-old Colombian girl with neurological problems that first caught the attention of Dr. Rebecca Chandler, an American expat working at Läkemedelsverket, the Swedish Medical Products Agency.

Sweden is an EMA rapporteur for Gardasil and Gardasil 9, meaning that it was tasked with evaluating the marketing applications for the two vaccines on behalf of the European Union. As a clinical safety assessor at Läkemedelsverket, Chandler had been looking into post-marketing reports from Denmark and Japan about two serious, little-known neurological disorders in girls and young women vaccinated with Gardasil. In both countries, these cases had ignited vitriolic national debates that sent vaccination rates plummeting. When the application for Gardasil 9 arrived, Chandler decided to scrutinize the trial data to see if she found any references to the two conditions, known as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). The syndromes overlap to some extent, and also share a number of features with CFS.

At first, she found nothing—no instance of either disease was listed in the company’s application. But the Colombian teenager’s symptoms, as described in the clinical trial data, made her suspect POTS, and she asked the drugmaker to comb through its database for similar cases. Three girls vaccinated with Gardasil 9 had been diagnosed with POTS, it turned out, and one with CRPS. There were also several cases of neurological disorders “of interest,” Chandler wrote in her 2014 assessment. But none of them had been reported by the company as adverse events; rather, they were all labeled as new medical history in accordance with Merck’s study protocols.

Chandler, who now works at the Uppsala Monitoring Centre, a leading drug-safety research institution in Sweden, told me she “argued quite much” about her findings at the agency, “because I was very concerned that the study design was not appropriate to pick up these things.” Her regulatory colleagues apparently shared her apprehension, laying out their misgivings in a series of confidential EMA reports leading up to the approval of Gardasil 9. (I obtained these reports from Läkemedelsverket through several freedom-of-information requests.) One confidential EMA report from 2014 called Merck’s approach to safety “an unconventional and suboptimal study procedure”; another observed that the design “brings some degree of uncertainty into the overall safety assessment.”

Chandler found Merck’s data bolstered concerns about an association between the vaccine and POTS, but she was overridden by her agency colleagues. Later, a contested EMA review from 2015 and a U.S. study based on post-marketing data also found no support for a link.

Officials inspecting a Gardasil 9 trial for the EMA also felt compelled to spotlight how Merck dealt with safety, despite considering it “a systemic issue related to study design and as such not an inspection finding.” The unorthodox design “complicated” the reporting of adverse events, the inspectors wrote, in part because the information on “new medical events” was “limited, as only symptoms were collected and no further medical assessments were made and no outcome was recorded.”

In their final report recommending conditional approval of Gardasil 9, the EMA rapporteurs asked the drugmaker to “discuss the impact of [its] unconventional and potentially suboptimal method of reporting adverse events and provide reassurance on the overall completeness and accuracy of safety data provided in the application.” Läkemedelsverket refused to share the company’s response. In the EMA’s public assessment of Gardasil 9, all mention of the safety concerns has been scrubbed.

In response to my questions, the EMA pointed out that its experts, in a public assessment of the original Gardasil vaccine from 2006, found Merck’s way of evaluating safety “established and appropriate.” But the agency failed to explain how that opinion squares with its unpublicized reservations about the Gardasil 9 research, which handled safety essentially the same way.

Dr. Susanne Krüger Kjær, a professor of gynecological cancer epidemiology at the University of Copenhagen who oversaw the Danish part of Future 2, declined to address the safety concerns. “I can’t answer any of those questions because I didn’t design the trial,” she told me. She is one of the authors on the main scientific publication from the trial, which appeared in 2007 in the New England Journal of Medicine and contains no mention of new medical history.

In its statement, Merck said that using the “new medical history” category “allowed broad collection of potential safety events including new conditions, symptoms, and laboratory or imaging tests thereby allowing comprehensive safety assessment.” It cited a study from 2010 that analyzed new medical history and found “comparable” rates in trial participants given vaccine and placebo, respectively.

* * *

On a rainy day in September, I flew with Lyng to Berlin to visit Gerd Wallukat, a scientist at the biotech startup Berlin Cures. Wallukat, a heavyset man in his mid-70s, has pioneered research into a special class of autoantibodies—proteins made by the immune system that attack the body’s own cells instead of foreign invaders like viruses or bacteria. Researchers have been finding these “agonistic autoantibodies” in people with different diseases, including CFS, POTS, and CRPS, but their role is not fully understood. Berlin Cures is in the middle of early-stage trials to see if neutralizing them could have a therapeutic effect.

One of Lyng’s doctors in Denmark had been working with Wallukat to look for autoantibodies in girls and women who fell ill following Gardasil vaccination. Their preliminary, unpublished findings suggested that nearly all of these women harbor one or more agonistic autoantibodies, and Wallukat had offered to test Lyng, too. On the plane, she was nervous and chatty. She didn’t want to be sick, she explained, but it was taxing having to convince people around her—her caseworker, her family, even her husband—that she was physically sick while one test after another came up empty. She dreaded the thought of receiving yet another negative result.

She didn’t. “You have beta-2, nociceptin, muscarinic,” Wallukat told her, referring to three types of autoantibodies, “the classical pattern I’ve seen in patients after vaccination.” From a coffee shop, Lyng called her husband. “I’m completely overwhelmed. It’s the first time I’ve had a positive result,” she told him. “This means it’s not just in my head—all those doctors who’ve asked if it could be psychological.”

But Lyng’s positive test triggers more questions than it answers: What induced those autoantibodies, and how? Did they cause her symptoms, as her doctor speculated? And would neutralizing them bring about improvement, as Berlin Cures wagered? The test brought another piece to the puzzle that is Lyng’s case; but as so often happens in science, it did not bring certainty, and it proved nothing in the way of causality. Should it turn out that Gardasil does have serious side effects, it’s apparent that they must be rare. What’s more, the vaccine might still be worth that hypothetical risk—cervical cancer, though uncommon, is a terrible disease.

If there’s one clear lesson from Lyng’s experience, it’s that science is a work in progress. To borrow the words of the American psychologist Brian Nosek, “Science isn’t about truth and falsity, it’s about reducing uncertainty.” Not owning up to that uncertainty, when it is legitimate, likely will only slow scientific progress. In the controversial realm of vaccines, it will also create fodder for conspiracy theorists spreading overblown or unfounded fears among an already distrustful public.

One way to respond to public concerns is to acknowledge the limits of our current body of research and to welcome discussion about what we know and don’t know, according to Lemmens, the bioethicist.
“Transparency and open debate around side effects are essential to safeguard trust in the provision of medication and public-health planning,” he told me. Instead, as confidence in Gardasil nosedived in Denmark, regulators doubled down on the simplistic message that the vaccine has been thoroughly tested and is unquestionably safe.

At a press conference in May, Dr. Søren Brostrøm, the director general of the Danish Health Authority and an OB-GYN, told journalists that “for us, as authorities, there is no doubt about this vaccine’s efficacy and safety.” This seems to contradict the EMA’s own deliberations about the way Merck reported safety data in its trials. As Dr. Christian Gluud, who heads the Copenhagen Trial Unit, a research center at Copenhagen University Hospital, told me recently, “If we had tested our vaccines properly, we wouldn’t be having the discussion we’re having now.”

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by Daniel Engber @ Slate Articles

On Friday, the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration had banned  certain scientific words from use at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to an unnamed, outraged CDC source, higher-ups instructed staffers to avoid seven phrases in budget documents: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based. In the days since, editorials have likened this to censorship in China, Cuba, and Belarus; to Polish laws prohibiting certain language to describe the Holocaust; and to the totalitarian regime described in 1984.* Follow-up reports said the “irrational and very dangerous” policy on budget language might put “millions of lives in danger” with its “an astonishing attack on reality-based medical treatment.”

But if reality is indeed in danger here, it’s not because of Donald Trump. The story of the language rules at CDC has quickly broken free of underlying facts. Despite what you may have heard, the alleged “ban” of seven words does not reveal a secret “War on Science” carried out by thought police in Washington; nor is it some evil plot to “enforce a political and ideological agenda,” as the Washington Post editorial board suggested. A more sober measure of this soggy crumb of news—one that’s, well, evidence-based rather than reflexive—suggests it should be understood as a byproduct of the Trump administration’s much-less-secret war on science funding. It appears that the ban is an attempt by bureaucrats to save their favorite projects from unforgiving budget cuts.

That explanation would be consistent with what’s been reported to this point. According to CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, “There are no banned, prohibited or forbidden words at the CDC—period.” Meanwhile, anonymous sources at the Department of Health and Human Services told the National Review’s Yuval Levin this week that any language changes did not originate with political appointees, but instead came from career CDC officials who were strategizing how best to frame their upcoming budget request to Congress. What we’re seeing, his interviews suggest, is not a top-down effort to stamp out certain public-health initiatives, like those that aim to help the LGTBQ community, but, in fact, the opposite: a bottom-up attempt by lifers in the agency to reframe (and thus preserve) the very work they suspect may be in the greatest danger.

Reports about the seven dirty words at CDC should be understood in light of that budgetary process. Right now, the Trump administration is in the middle of preparing its fiscal 2019 request, to be submitted to Congress this coming February. It’s likely that the staffers at each agency at HHS have already submitted their proposals for how much money they think they need, for which specific projects, along with “budget narratives” explaining why. These, in turn, have probably been passed up to the budget team for the whole department, aggregated and sent on to the Office of Management and Budget in the White House. Now the OMB is trying to combine proposals from across the federal government into one colossal document to be reviewed by lawmakers.

There are internal negotiations at each step, says Stuart Shapiro, professor of public policy at Rutgers University and a former OMB employee. The OMB may demand steeper cuts from budget staffers at HHS, for example; HHS may send specific feedback down to CDC with suggestions for where and how to trim. This scrutiny is likely to be extra intense this year, given the Trump administration’s extraordinary steps to reduce government spending. In its first budget request delivered last May, the White House called for cuts of $1.2 billion from the CDC, $5.8 billion from the National Institutes of Health, and $2.5 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency. (For comparison, the last Republican president, George W. Bush, proposed increasing NIH funding by $2.8 billion in his first budget request and cutting funds for the EPA by $500 million.)

HHS staffers have been telling those at CDC and other agencies that it would be better to avoid any phrases that might attract extra notice from the budget-slashers higher up the chain. This is tactical advice: They want to bolster the CDC’s position during these negotiations. Levin suggests that words like vulnerable, entitlement, or diversity might annoy Republicans in Congress and make them less inclined to grant requested funds. But it seems more likely that the same advice is meant to ward off cuts from OMB Director Mick Mulvaney and his team of budget hawks; after all, they’ve been more tight-fisted than even congressional Republicans. (The latter rejected the Trump administration’s most dramatic cuts to science spending earlier this year.)

While back-and-forth discussions about budget documents may be normal, Shapiro says current staffers’ wariness of potential trigger words such as entitlement seems like something new. It’s also indicative of where we are today: Given this administration’s zeal for shrinking government and the radical polarization of political debate, it makes sense that bureaucrats would be doing whatever they can think of to protect their work from scrutiny. That is to say, their censorship is both strategic and self-imposed.

That may help explain why the list of forbidden phrases is so peculiar. Its haphazard composition hints at something other than a secretive attempt to stifle free expression in the government; to me, it reads more like some left-leaning functionary’s best guess about the words that might be banned by the White House, if the White House were to bother banning words. A few entries on the list make sense: It’s easy to imagine the Trump administration pushing back on uses of transgender, for example. But what about a word like fetus? That would seem to be a pretty useful term to have at your disposal, whatever your position on the ethics of abortion. And what of science-based and evidence-based? Those phrases don’t support any one political agenda; if anything, they’re maddeningly generic and easily abused by either side. (According to the Post, one senior CDC official told the staff that science-based and evidence-based should be abandoned because they’ve been overused.)

Some will argue that censorship can still be dangerous, even when it’s not imposed. That’s clearly not the case in this scenario. What we’re seeing from the CDC is not an effort to suppress unwelcome research, but rather an effort to conceal it under euphemism. If there is a secret plot at work in any of these lexical decisions, it’s aimed at simple-minded White House hacks and ideologues in Congress. Staffers have been advised to swap out the phrase science-based, for instance, for a more elaborate and confusing sentence: “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.” Similarly, we’ve learned in recent months that staffers at the EPA have been rebranding satellites that help keep track of climate change as those that study “weather,” and that they’ve elected to replace the phrase “climate change” with “climate resiliency” in documents. We’ve heard that a director at the Department of Agriculture advised her team that carbon-sequestration and greenhouse-gas reduction should instead be described as “building soil organic matter” and “increasing nutrient use efficiency.” “We won’t change the modeling,” the director told them, “just how we talk about it.”

It matters that this bullshit has been bubbling up from within the rank-and-file instead of raining down upon them. That is to say, it’s the scientists who have been using doublespeak to manipulate their bosses, not vice-versa.

Yet journalists have reported on these middle-management directives as if they were new and shocking evidence of the Trump administration’s sneaky plan to interfere with scientific research. In a follow-up story published Thursday, the Post puts the ban on words at CDC in the context of “a linguistic battle [waged] across official Washington, seeking to shift public perception of key policies by changing the way the federal government talks about climate change, scientific evidence and disadvantaged communities.”

The invocation of a secret war on science, or “1984-ish thought control,” doesn’t fit the fact that many of the language changes are coming from the lifelong bureaucrats and not their political overlords. Even when these changes are delivered from on high, it’s not clear how far the practice strays from that of prior administrations. Thursday’s story in the Post points out that directed euphemisms are the norm in Washington: Barack Obama’s budget team, for example, swapped out the “global war on terror” for what it called “overseas contingency operations.” It may be that the Trump team’s efforts in this area have been more aggressive (or cartoonish) than those that came before—but they’re all related.

In any case, it’s not like no one knows what our current president has been up to in the broader sense. You don’t have to search for secret anti-science signals in agency proceedings when he’s putting climate-change skeptics in control at the EPA, the Department of Energy, and the Department of the Interior, and leaving one-third of the most important science posts vacant. And there’s not much point to parsing adjectives in budgetary language when the most recent budget calls for cuts to science by the billions.

For all the blatancy of this administration, we’re still obsessing over red-alarm reports about its use of scientific language—which words are in and which are out. In October, for example, the Nation reported on the DOI’s new strategic plan. Surely it would have been jarring simply to describe that plan’s instrumental view of nature, with its firm avowal of “American energy dominance” and suggestion that millions of acres of public lands and waters may soon be auctioned off for oil and gas development. Yet in keeping with the trend for extraneous lexicographical analysis, the Nation story notes right up near the top that the new document makes no mention whatsoever of climate change, while the phrase turned up 46 times in a version put out under Obama; and also that it mentions conservation 25 times, compared to 74 in the Obama plan.

I agree it’s telling, in some way, that the department tasked with protecting America’s natural resources won’t even mention global warming once in its strategic plan, but does this information really add anything to what we knew already? Same goes for all that  news—so much news—about the Trump administration’s efforts to excise every use of “climate change” or “global warming” from its official websites. We’ve heard these words have been “purged” from WhiteHouse.gov; that they’ve been “deleted” from NIH.gov; that they’ve been “scrubbed” from EPA.gov. If we claim those purges and deletions are informative, then what should we make of the fact that one can still find those phrases, climate change and global warming, on several of the sites from which they’ve supposedly been erased? Would we then conclude that the Trump administration is not perhaps as hostile toward the science of the climate as we’d thought?

Rather than endlessly track these proxy measures of corruption, we’d be better off closely watching things that happen in plain sight: the drastic paring back of environmental regulations; major cuts to public-health and science funding; rampant conflicts of interest in science leadership; and a blatant disregard for scientific expertise. These actions should freak you far more than any list of seven words self-censored by the CDC.

Correction, Dec. 22, 2017: This story originally stated that Polish laws that enforce Holocaust denial. The laws dictate that specific language be avoided in discussing the Holocaust. (Return.)

Best Rollaway And Folding Bed

by bellax @ Best Mattress Reviews

Beds have always been most important furniture at your home. Obviously, it is impossible to sleep without a proper bed. In the past years, people think of beds as big wooden planks jot together to make a proper place to sleep in. in the coming years, everything has changed, each and everything became convertible or […]

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This Land Was Your Land

This Land Was Your Land

by Elizabeth Shogren @ Slate Articles

This story is republished from High Country News as part of a collaboration with Climate Desk.

President Donald Trump has spent the past year steadily undoing Obama-era environmental protections, especially rules designed to fight climate change. By law, agencies must go through a lengthy process to rescind or rewrite many rules, but executive orders and other policies are easier to erase. Some of the rollbacks have major implications for the West and public lands.

Here we take a look at some of the most important rollbacks of the past year:

Monuments

Trump slashed two national monuments in southern Utah and is considering changes to other monuments in the West. Under Trump’s boundaries, Bears Ears becomes two separate management units: Indian Creek and Shash Jáa. The two together are just 15 percent of the footprint protected by President Barack Obama in 2016. The new Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is about half its original size. Countless archaeological, paleontological, cultural, and scenic treasures are left out of Trump’s new boundaries. Bears Ears and Escalante supporters are suing to block this unprecedented action.

Arctic Refuge

At the Trump administration’s urging, Congress in December opened parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. This was an enormous loss for the Gwich’in, a Native Alaskan people, and environmental groups, which had successfully protected the refuge from drilling for decades. Drilling in the refuge is part of a broader policy of the administration to increase oil production in Alaska and in Western public lands in general. In December, the administration offered the largest lease sale ever in the National Petroleum Reserve, Alaska. But companies bid on a tiny fraction of land available—only seven of the 900 tracts offered.

Clean Water Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to rescind the 2015 Clean Water Rule. This rule—particularly important in the arid West—mandates, for example, protecting tributaries that connect to navigable waterways and adjoining wetlands, even if they flow only part of the year. If it’s revoked, those tributaries could be filled in, ditched, or diverted for construction or farming without federal review.

In October, the Supreme Court heard arguments about whether federal district courts or appeals courts should hear several pending cases challenging the rule. It’s unclear when it will issue a decision. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt plans to write a new rule describing which waters and wetlands warrant federal protection and which should be left to state discretion. In the meantime, the Trump administration is trying to delay the date the Obama rule goes into effect until 2020 in case the courts uphold it.

The EPA also plans to eliminate protection of many wetlands and streams by narrowing the definition of a “navigable water.” This will be especially significant in the arid West, where most streams run only part of the year or after rain events.

Fossil fuel royalties rule

In August, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke repealed a 2016 Obama rule designed to ensure that taxpayers get a fair return on oil, gas, and coal. The Obama administration estimated the rule would have increased the royalties that fossil fuel industries pay to mine and drill federal lands and waters by about $80 million a year. The rule was meant to eliminate a loophole that allows companies to sell to affiliated companies that then export and resell the minerals at higher prices, reducing royalties. Zinke said it was too complex and plans to draft a new rule.

BLM methane rule

In 2016, the Bureau of Land Management implemented a rule limiting how much methane can be released from some 96,000 oil and gas wells on federal and tribal lands. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and the 2016 rule’s goal was to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change, smog and health problems, as well as to increase royalties. Industry claims the rule is too onerous and duplicates state rules.

Congressional Republicans tried unsuccessfully in May to erase the rule using the Congressional Review Act. The BLM in December suspended it until 2019, and Zinke plans to rewrite it.

EPA methane rule

The EPA also passed a rule in 2016 designed to limit methane emissions, but from new and modified oil and gas wells, compressor stations, pneumatic pumps, and similar equipment. It was a key part of Obama’s climate change agenda; his administration projected that industry’s costs would be partially offset by revenues from recovering and selling more natural gas. Pruitt has sought to prevent the rule from going into effect, but environmentalists and the states of New Mexico and California have been fighting him in court. The EPA now has proposed suspending the rule for two years while it redrafts it.

National Environmental Policy Act reviews

In an Aug. 31 secretarial order, the Department of Interior “streamlined” agencies’ processes for analyzing the environmental impacts of major actions. Now, agencies may not spend more than a year to complete environmental impact statements, nor may their final reports be more than 150 pages or 300 pages “for unusually complex projects.”

Environmental groups fear the arbitrary deadlines will hinder public engagement in public-land decisions. But John Freemuth, a public policy professor at Boise State University, said environmental impact statements are often long and incomprehensible to most people. “Trying to make this process work better and happen quicker is probably not a bad thing, unless it’s done for surrogate reasons, like to get more coal off the land,” Freemuth says.

Federal coal

Obama wanted the federal coal-mining program to better reflect its costs to taxpayers and the planet. So in 2016, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell placed a three-year moratorium on new coal leases on federal land while reviewing the program, which produces about 40 percent of the coal burned in the U.S. for electricity.

This March, Zinke canceled both the moratorium and the review. Given declining demand for coal, though, there’s been no rush for new leases. One exception: Cloud Peak Energy is seeking to expand operations in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.

National parks management

The National Park Service in August rescinded a sweeping December 2016 policy instructing managers to use an adaptive approach to decision-making, taking into account uncertainties such as climate change impacts, and erring on the side of caution to protect natural and cultural resources. The policy also committed to address worker harassment. Now, NPS says revoking the order avoids confusion while Zinke establishes his own vision for the parks.

Also in August, the agency ended a six-year policy that allowed parks to ban the sale of disposable water bottles to decrease waste and greenhouse gas pollution. Western parks that banned bottled water included Arizona’s Grand Canyon; Arches, Bryce, and Canyonlands in Utah; Saguaro in Arizona; and Colorado National Monument.

Power plants

The EPA has taken steps to repeal the Clean Power Plan, the Obama-era regulation intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 32 percent by 2030 compared to 2005. The Supreme Court had already stayed the rule, pending court review. The Trump administration asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit not to rule in the case, and in August the court agreed to suspend its review.

Trump’s EPA also is reconsidering an earlier Obama administration rule that required that all new power plants meet greenhouse gas standards, which roughly equate to emissions from modern natural gas plants. The rule effectively banned the construction of new conventional coal-fired power plants and remains in effect.

Pipelines

Trump revoked Obama administration policies that had blocked or postponed construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Environmentalists had long objected to Keystone XL because the heavy tar sands crude oil that it carries has a bigger greenhouse gas footprint than conventional crude oil. It requires a lot of energy to get tar sands out of the ground and process it for transporting by pipelines.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and many supporters from other tribes and the environmental community staged a monthslong protest to oppose DAPL. They raised concerns about sovereignty and the risk that potential spills pose to water resources that the tribe needs for farming and other uses. Trump touts the pipeline projects as key parts of his energy independence and infrastructure plans.

Cleaner cars

The EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are considering backtracking from Obama’s plans to boost fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks to the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by model year 2025.

The outcome is important in the West because California has led the rest of the country in pressing for cleaner cars, both to improve its air quality and achieve its climate change goals. California has fiercely objected to the possible rollback and vows to keep the standards. Thirteen other states, including Oregon and Washington, also warned Pruitt not to weaken the fuel standards and vowed to defend them in court if he does.

Offshore drilling

Obama withdrew large sections of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans from drilling to protect marine habitats. In an April executive order, Trump reversed the withdrawals and ordered annual lease sales in those areas, including in the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea, Cook Inlet, Mid-Atlantic, and South Atlantic. Environmental groups have sued in federal court, challenging the legality of Trump’s action.

Blowout prevention rule

In April, Trump ordered a reconsideration of a 2016 rule designed to prevent the kind of engineering failures that led to the catastrophic 2010 BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. That explosion killed 11 workers and inundated the fragile coast and deep sea with the largest marine oil spill ever seen, pummeling the Gulf’s seafood industry, killing thousands of marine mammals and rare sea turtles, and contaminating their habitats.

The chairmen of the bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling warned in a New York Times opinion piece that Trump’s order threatens the most important safeguard for preventing repeats of the BP disaster.

Social cost of carbon

Trump abolished policies crafted by the Obama administration to consider the cost of climate change to future generations when considering the costs and benefits of proposed regulations and when analyzing the environmental impacts of government actions under the National Environmental Policy Act. The social cost of carbon is a dollar amount that represents how much a ton of carbon pollution will “cost” society over the long run, such as the loss of usable dry land because of sea level rise, stresses to agriculture from droughts, and increased need for air conditioning. Trump’s March executive order directs agencies to use a 2003 policy that does not include directions on calculating these future costs of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Trump administration’s approach has started to run afoul of the courts. A federal judge in August blocked a major expansion of a coal mine in Montana and ordered the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement to redo its environmental analysis. The judge took issue with the agency’s argument that the millions of tons of extra greenhouse gas emissions from the Montana mine would not result in any costs to society because if that coal weren’t burned, other coal would be. Judge Donald Molloy of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana said the conclusion was illogical and put the agency’s “thumb on the scale by inflating the benefits of the action while minimizing its impacts.”

Floods and infrastructure

As part of his strategy to prepare the United States for the greater risks of climate change, Obama signed an executive order in 2015 requiring that the federal government consider sea level rise and storm surge when designing infrastructure and building in flood-prone areas. Just days before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, Trump signed an executive order revoking Obama’s order.

Trump defended his decision as an incentive for investments in infrastructure. Many professional engineers, insurance companies, and environmentalists objected to the repeal, saying that the standard protected people and property and reduced expenses to the federal government associated with rebuilding after flooding.

Our Leesa Bed Review For 2018 – Should You Buy It?

by Jill Thompson @ The Sleep Advisor

The post Our Leesa Bed Review For 2018 – Should You Buy It? appeared first on The Sleep Advisor.

The Best Organic Crib Mattresses + Why You Need One!

The Best Organic Crib Mattresses + Why You Need One!


The Gentle Nursery

A list of the best non-toxic + organic crib mattresses for your baby. Choose a healthier mattress for safer sleep!

Crib brand review: ED by Ellen

by Denise & Alan Fields @ Baby Bargains

Crib Brand Review: ED by Ellen Web: EDbyEllen.com Crib Brand Review: ED by Ellen. When we learned that Ellen Degeneres was entering the nursery furniture arena with a line called ED by Ellen, we were skeptical. The category has been littered with celebrity-endorsed flops from the likes of Heidi Klum, Kathy Ireland and Jenny McCarthy. […]

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Therapy Is Great, but I Still Need Medication

Therapy Is Great, but I Still Need Medication

by Hayden Shelby @ Slate Articles

A few weeks ago, I made an appointment with a therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy—CBT as it’s known to professionals and those of us who have way too much contact with the mental health care system. After months of struggling to find the right doctor and to get on a medication regime that could tamp down the worst of the physical pain that accompanies my condition, I had finally found the right medical mix and was feeling stable. But I still had some lingering negative thought patterns I wanted to kick, precisely the kind of thing CBT is supposed to be good for, which is why I scheduled the appointment. I went in expecting some helpful worksheets and mental exercises.

What I got was a therapist who, after doing a cursory intake evaluation, declared, “If you really want to get better, you’re going to have to get off those medications and put in the work.”

This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened to me. A couple of months prior, desperate and unable to eat or sleep, I had gone to a psychiatric hospital. I knew from experience that it was time to make a significant medication change, and I expressed this to the nurse practitioner handling my case. She came back with the recommendation of a three-week course of intensive outpatient CBT. I pleaded to talk to the attending psychiatrist, who thankfully agreed with my own assessment and got me on the track to recovery.

This whole course of events had been kicked off much earlier at an appointment with my then-psychiatrist—I had gone to him certain that the medicine I was on was “pooping out,” a well-documented but little understood phenomenon I typically experience every few years, in which a previously reliable medication just stops doing the trick. I’ve always solved this problem by rotating to another drug. But this time my doctor resisted. He had been reading up on CBT and was convinced that if I worked hard to change patterns in my thoughts, I could learn to control the problematic feedback loop between my brain and body. He insisted I try CBT before switching meds. I elected to find a new psychiatrist, a process that took weeks—long enough for me to spiral down into a hole I’m just now climbing out of.

As it happened, I had already done a variant of CBT a few years earlier, in the hopes of getting some tools to cope with the stresses of moving to a new city and starting grad school. I’d pursued this type of therapy instead of a medication adjustment because the anxiety I was feeling had a clear object (something CBT is designed to address), and the sensations attached to it were quite different from those I experience when my mental illness is taking hold. Years of dealing with this condition have made me able to discern the difference between normal and pathological psychic pain in the same way that, as an athlete, I’ve learned to differentiate between minor aches and pains and a serious injury. Both need to be tended to, as the former can make you more vulnerable to the latter, but the treatments are different. As it turned out, for me, CBT techniques proved to be lesser tools for managing stress than my tried-and-true regimen of dance classes and long runs.

I began to ponder my recent interactions with the mental health care system upon reading a recent New York Times Magazine story about severely anxious teens. The article contains most of the standard hand-wringing the Times has been putting out over how anxiety is America’s national mood and how we’ve become “the United States of Xanax.” But I was most struck by a subnarrative that speaks to my experiences with many care providers, as well as broader beliefs I fear are spreading as CBT is having its cultural moment.

The New York Times Magazine story highlights a young man, Jake, who suffers from paralyzing anxiety. When medication just “made a bad situation worse,” his parents sent him to an in-patient treatment center that practices CBT. There, he retrained his brain—“cognitive restructuring” in CBT lingo—and faced his fears through exposure therapy. The author and the clinicians he interviewed describe the therapy as “work” that is “uncomfortable.” At one point a woman in the piece describes an anxious teen doing an exposure exercise as “brave.” For Jake, in the end, this work pays off, and he goes off to college with a newfound control over his life and mind.

But Jake has a foil in this story. It’s a young woman, Jillian, who goes through the same treatment as Jake, but with different results. Her anxieties return, she leaves high school, battles with her mother, and falters in her use of the CBT tools she learned because “it’s exhausting.” When we last see Jillian, she is in her “messy” room, where she chats on her phone and ignores the schedule she is supposed to keep. Beside her sit the bottles of pills that she “believes” make her better than she would be otherwise. The subtle ways in which we are led to question Jillian, not CBT, struck me as unsettling.

In fact, highlighting one teen that benefits from CBT and one that doesn’t would be a fairly accurate representation of larger trends. According to a study cited in the story, CBT showed about the same rate of effectiveness in treating anxiety and depression as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibiting, or SSRI, medication—a little more than 50 percent—with better results when combined. In the thorny world of mental illnesses, these are good outcomes for both modes of treatment. The Times story isn’t celebrating the effectiveness of SSRIs, though. Why highlight CBT? Because unlike medication, it’s not just effective; it’s also virtuous.

You might say my story is the opposite of Jake’s. I’ve tried numerous forms of therapy, from traditional counseling to hypnosis, and yes, at this point, a couple attempts at CBT. I’ll probably keep trying new forms of therapy. But thus far, none have been able to replace—or, to be honest, even augment—medication. I’ve also always experienced an element of moralizing around therapy by health care professionals. As therapy has become more acceptable in the broader culture, it has also come to be expected of people who take medication to control disorders. As one general practitioner at my university chided while making me promise to see a counselor along with a psychiatrist, “you have to do your part.” But while a moralizing rhetoric runs through many types of therapy, CBT’s is a particularly virulent strain.

The first element of CBT’s moral claim lies in its identity as an evidence-based intervention, bolstered by the existence of a great deal of data to show its effectiveness. On its own, this is a positive development in psychotherapy. However, just because CBT might, on aggregate, be as effective as many drugs does not mean that it will be as effective as medication for any given individual. This subtle point is missed by some practitioners.

The main aspect of CBT’s moral superiority, however, lies in its purported strength: It places the patient in the driver’s seat of the therapeutic process; the therapist is conceived of as more of a coach. In fact, the latest movement in CBT even removes the therapist altogether. This “self-help” CBT assists patients through online guides and apps. And self-help accurately describes the way CBT is frequently packaged—with pure positivity and a can-do ethic. The “work” of getting better is up to the patient, who is responsible for her own success.

This characterization sets up a scary flip side. When medications don’t work, the fault is that of the pill. When traditional talk therapy doesn’t work, you can blame a “poor fit” or a lack of chemistry. But in CBT, failure redounds to the individual. The cumulative message I’ve gotten about CBT amounts to: It’s effective, so it should work, and if it doesn’t work, it’s because you didn’t try hard enough.

But managing mental illness is always hard work, no matter how you do it. Navigating the health care system while in a state of distress is hard. Convincing providers to take seriously the urgency of a pain that has no observable physical manifestation is hard. And doing this while being told that you’re not putting in enough effort of your own is really hard. Like many people who take psychotropic drugs, I hate being on them. Relying on mind-altering substances to function produces no small amount of shame, not to mention existential anxiety. I’ve tried to go off them many times in the hopes that the “real me” will finally be able to stand on her own. Each time, I run into the heartbreaking reality that my unaltered self is too painful to bear.

The fact that CBT is helping people should be celebrated. But I need medication. And for me, the enthusiasm around CBT has prevented me from getting timely and appropriate treatment. It has also added a few bricks to the heavy burden I carry around about my inability to make myself better. That’s not fair to me, or to the other patients who are likely experiencing the same problems.

The core of CBT’s cognitive restructuring essentially amounts to rewriting the stories you tell yourself—if you can think about something differently, you can maybe shift the way it makes you feel. Perhaps it’s time to rewrite some of the stories we’re telling about CBT.

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Where Are the Opioid Recovery Activists?

Where Are the Opioid Recovery Activists?

by Zachary Siegel @ Slate Articles

Twenty-one months ago, presidential hopefuls from both parties descended on New Hampshire ahead of its primary, hearing in town halls and debates the same thing again and again: Save us. These voters cared little about plans for tax reform or the threat of ISIS. Instead, they asked potential candidates how they plan to tackle the opioid epidemic devastating their communities. There was no time to waste.

Thursday, nearly a year after his election as president, Donald Trump announced that the worsening opioid epidemic is a public health emergency—a far cry from declaring a national emergency, as he promised he would do at the recommendation of the advisory commission he created. What his lesser announcement means is that for the next 90 days, federal agencies can more freely use existing money to mitigate a crisis that currently kills seven Americans an hour. It does not include any additional funds. (Recall that the Zika virus was contained thanks to Congress’ approving an additional $1.1 billion in emergency funds—a fraction of what the opioid crisis needs.) The announcement has been celebrated by some as an important step toward raising awareness, but its ability to make a tangible impact is extremely limited.

If you can say anything about the opioid crisis, it’s that we’re aware of it. September was National Recovery Month, and with it came numerous projects by news outlets dedicated to showing us a worsening overdose crisis whose images we have by now become intimate with. Glamour’s 11-chapter “Women and Opioids” opened with a reconstructed scene of a young woman shooting up in her bathroom, only to immediately realize she was overdosing. The Cincinnati Enquirer delivered a deeply reported tick-tock, “Seven Days of Heroin,” which deployed some 60 reporters, photographers, and videographers around the Ohio city and its surrounding communities to show readers “what an epidemic looks like.” The New Yorker this month ran a photo essay about overdoses in an Ohio county, describing the deaths as having “become impossible to ignore.”

These projects are increasingly hard to stomach. Writer William S. Burroughs brutally portrayed the sicker side of heroin in his 1953 novel Junky, back when writing about drugs was literarily transgressive. By this point in the crisis, these scenes can feel sensationalized—doing more to stoke an emotional response than a spur to action. What does documenting “seven days of heroin” do, if it doesn’t also engage with how we could mitigate the death toll? How many times should we explain how we got here, without looking toward how we should get out?

I kicked heroin five years ago as a lanky, depressed 22-year-old. Since then, I’ve turned to research and journalism, obsessively trying to figure out why opioids kill more Americans year after year despite us being constantly told that all hands are on deck, from local activists to epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Still, annual heroin deaths have more than tripled since I kicked it in 2012. Heroin use increased the most—by more than 100 percent—among 18- to 25-year-olds from 2011 to 2013. I can pull out lots of numbers like this, but I doubt any of them will surprise you—after years of increasing pressure, we are finally, mind-numbingly, aware of the problem. The question, though, of how to solve it remains. We have good ideas, most of which are thoroughly outlined in the 2016 surgeon general’s report on addiction, which was mostly echoed by Trump’s recent opioid commission. Trump’s team is set to issue more formal recommendations next week, but given Thursday’s disappointing announcement, there is little sign this is a federal government moved to make the changes we need, whatever plan the commission announces on Wednesday. So the question becomes—the question that keeps me up at night—is: Can we force it to?

* * *

The opioid epidemic mirrors the AIDS epidemic in the scope of its tragedy. Both are stigmatized conditions, thought to only infect other people. Tens of thousands died before then–President Ronald Reagan made a peep about the virus—it was activists from ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, who forced his hand on the issue. Every day that his administration ignored its cries, ACT UP vowed to make a stink. And it did.

ACT UP got what it wanted. It fought for legislation and medical research to develop treatments, and now people with AIDS live long, healthy lives.

Both medicine and legislation are required to mitigate the deaths and harms of the overdose crisis. Both could be the focus of political activism. But there are a few major roadblocks to any kind of activist movement arising among the recovery community today. Our treatment is so bad, for one, it leaves an incredible number of people unequipped and disempowered from making their voices heard. And those who don’t end up needing clinical treatment have less motivation to speak up.

An ugly secret about the way America treats addiction is finally unraveling: It’s laughably unscientific, bordering on cruel. For one, there’s the cost of health care. The only reason I’m alive to write this is because my family provided me with what’s called “recovery capital.” My parents paid, out of pocket, tens of thousands of dollars to get me help. And even with their help, I was still treated at one of the most reputable facilities with outdated, confrontational therapies that tried to shame and embarrass the addiction out of me. In a two-year span across several states, I went to detox, outpatient, sober living, back to outpatient, then detoxed in a residential facility where I lived for 90 days before moving to a halfway house and finally back to sober living. Round and round. I learned more about how to kick in rehab by borrowing my friend’s copy of Albert Camus’ The Stranger than I ever did from reading Alcoholics Anonymous–approved literature.

It’s a Kafkaesque ritual that has gone mostly unchanged since the 1950s, when the abstinence-based model of AA was first designed to treat cases of severe alcoholism. Today, a growing number of addiction specialists are rightfully critical of applying the abstinence model to people with an opioid use disorder. Mark Willenbring, former director of treatment research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, thinks it’s downright dangerous. “What do people do when they leave these places? They overdose and die,” he told me. Last year, I wrote in Slate how the majority of treatment centers withhold lifesaving medications such as methadone and buprenorphine, the only known treatments that have evidence backing their potential to cut mortality rates in half.

While the industry is finally being called out as a charlatan-filled racket, where hucksters committing insurance fraud abound, the whole residential model is flawed. “You don’t treat a chronic illness with 30 days of intensive rehab—that’s absurd,” said Willenbring, who after leaving the NIAAA started his own outpatient clinic in St. Paul, Minnesota. “These rehabs have ignored decades of taxpayer-funded research,” he told me. Research points in Willenbring’s favor. Studies repeatedly show residential rehab has no clinical benefit over less expensive outpatient settings that treat patients in their own communities. A widespread misconception among Narcotics Anonymous, the de facto support group for people with heroin addiction, is that being on methadone or buprenorphine means you’re not in “real recovery,” a nebulous distinction that sounds a lot like a Calvinist quest for purity and abstinence.

Maia Szalavitz, journalist and author of Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction, has written about addiction and recovery for decades. She told me that like most movements, a lot of time in recovery advocacy is spent, unproductively, fighting one another. For example, the recovery community was against syringe-exchange programs during the AIDS epidemic, which Szalavitz says speaks to a long-standing rift between the 12-step, abstinence-based community and harm-reduction groups.

People who have co-occurring mental health disorders, especially ones that require medication, or who use treatments such as methadone and buprenorphine for opiate use disorder don’t always feel welcome in the recovery community. “I go to AA, but I was not allowed to share at meetings when I was on medication-assisted treatment,” said 47-year-old Francesca Kennedy, who has been going to meetings for more than 20 years in New York.

That the recovery process itself is so difficult means that even people who go through the process and succeed may not find clear communities on the other side—many people, rather than seeing the process as a badge of honor, instead remember it simply as something they endured. But according to oft-cited reports, there are about 23 million Americans “living in recovery.” It’s a huge number of people, most of whom should share common goals. So why aren’t we hearing from them?

One unique aspect of the opioid epidemic is that nothing united this group of people to begin with. Addiction affects all kinds of people, from all social classes, education levels, races, etc. Little is known about the political leanings of “people in recovery.” It’s likely they fall all over the map. While much attention has focused on the overdoses that cluster in rural areas affected by automation and deindustrialization, regions that overwhelmingly voted for Trump, overdoses appear to be happening everywhere.

Of course, that 23 million number includes all drug and alcohol use. There are obvious similarities between these experiences. Often, people with different kinds of addiction run into one another in rehabs and support groups. Someone who was addicted to stimulants can recover right next to someone who was addicted to heroin. It’s tempting to think that whether alcohol or heroin brought someone down, there is a shared experience over which people in recovery bond. But the extent to which this group can be unified at all has been a question among recovery advocates for decades—the most revered of whom is recovery historian William White, who has written more than 300 articles and 17 books on addiction, treatment, and recovery since 1969.

White has studied the identities of people diagnosed with substance use disorder and found three big, though not mutually exclusive, identity styles. According to White’s research, there is the loud-and-proud crowd for whom addiction “has become an important part of their personal identity.” Opposite this group is those who have internalized stigma: “Those whose addiction/recovery status is self-acknowledged but not shared with others due to a sense of personal shame derived from this status.” Between the two poles is a group who holds “recovery-neutral identities,” those who do not self-identify as alcoholics,” “addicts” or “persons in recovery.” (Depending on the situation, I probably straddle the neutral and proud groups.)

Forthcoming research led by John Kelly from Harvard’s Recovery Research Institute (which White collaborated on) adds concrete numbers to these three identities. The articles are still under peer review, but Kelly, the university’s first endowed professor in addiction medicine, told me they found 22.35 million Americans have resolved their drug or alcohol problems—close to the previously reported number. “Roughly half of those (46 percent) adopted a recovery identity,” Kelly said. This could be the loud-and-proud group, who may have had more severe addictions. “The other 54 percent did not adopt a recovery identity,” which could comprise a mix of the neutral or internalized-stigma group.

What are the implications of these findings? Kelly explained that those who’ve adopted the strong pro-recovery identity tend to be the ones who’ve had more severe addictions that required treatment. Kelly described this identity as self-preservative: “You have to remember you have a problem to stay in recovery from; otherwise you’ll be in trouble. There’s a lot more at stake with the severely addicted.” This is the group we think of when we imagine people struggling with addiction—but they aren’t always the loudest voices. For them, simply being in recovery is work enough, or even disabling. If you ask someone who’s been through an addiction that awful, he or she will tell you feeding it had become all-consuming.

But the most interesting finding of Kelly’s is that more than half of the 22 million people who resolved their addictions did so without utilizing any formal treatment or medications—not even self-help by way of AA. (This could explain why so many people don’t adopt recovery identities.) Previous epidemiological surveys have found similarly high rates of what’s called natural remission, or ending addiction with little to no help. We typically don’t hear stories from this group, which explains a stubborn misperception that if you had an addiction, it must have caused significant life problems and that treatment was necessary to beat it. That’s simply not the case for a majority of us.

White told me that any organizing movement “would have to acknowledge the legitimacy of a broader variety of [recovery] approaches, which is slowly happening.” Slow, indeed. Stigma likely plays a role in keeping even the neutrally identifying group from being vocal. But it’s also that these people don’t share their stories because they stopped using before their lives imploded. I know a dozen or so people with this kind of anti-climactic story, some I did heroin with or others whom I watched walk around dazed and forgetful from too many benzodiazepines. They recovered naturally and mostly unscathed. And they don’t talk about it today because, frankly, they don’t have much to say. This is the real, albeit less juicy, story shared by many of us who move through addiction. It’s hard, at this point, to imagine them marching in a rally.

* * *

If there are going to be activists, we may soon start to learn their names. One of the first “stars” might be Ryan Hampton, who directs social media for the addiction advocacy group Facing Addiction. I first heard of Hampton in January, when he mobilized a digital army against Arizona state Rep. Kelly Townsend. In a Facebook post, Townsend had blamed a spate of celebrity deaths—George Michael, Prince, Carrie Fisher—on their “druggie” lifestyles. Hampton screen-grabbed Townsend’s post before she deleted it and posted the insensitive status alongside Townsend’s name, work phone number, and congressional email address. Hampton then asked some 90,000 people who liked his page “to stop what you’re doing and call Arizona Rep. Kelly Townsend.” Within hours, after a barrage of calls and emails, Townsend clumsily walked back her comment blaming a chronic medical condition on the poor lifestyle choices of celebrity “tweakers.”

Hampton, a former heroin user who identifies as being in “long-term recovery,” is good at this kind of thing. In White’s rubric, he fits neatly into the loud-and-proud category. Hampton described his own rehab experience to me as a horror show: He wound up on never-ending waitlists and was rapidly detoxed off methadone, a dangerous move that goes against evidence. When I asked his mother to describe that time to me, she said, “I’m a teacher, a single parent. My resources are limited. … I helped him as much as I could squeeze an onion.” She searched until eventually finding a rehab center in Pasadena, California, that would take Hampton on a sliding scale.

Facing Addiction sees itself as providing a voice for the community, and that often means amplifying their voices on social media (they also have a blog for people to share their stories). In January, Jim Hood, who co-founded Facing Addiction in 2012 after his 20-year-old son died from an accidental overdose inside his dorm, posted a scathing indictment of Sephora for carrying a line of eyeshadow called “druggie.” Hood implored the company to “meet with leaders of the recovery movement and join us in facing addiction.” A social media pack led by Hampton digitally stormed the cosmetic brand, and Sephora apologized to Facing Addiction via tweet and stopped carrying the product.

But social media campaigns, while self-expressive and cathartic, are one thing. Having a group as diffuse as “people in recovery” fight for specific policies that meet their needs is something else entirely. Facing Addiction has become increasingly successful in its effort to build bridges in a fragmented field. It’s uniting the treatment community, for instance, over holding facilities accountable to track outcomes, which few currently do (Facing Addiction also partners with dozens of rehabs). Hampton and his work partner, Garrett Hade, met in rehab, and they’re now traveling around the country broadcasting local efforts to address addiction—everywhere from inside jails and prisons to suffering communities in Ohio. Instead of working in church basements, the organization takes the opposite approach, being intentionally loud and visible in its attempt at reducing the human cost sapped by a stigmatized illness, one that people still think of as a sin or crime.

Hampton’s own rise to prominence—his personal social media accounts now reach some 4 million people every month—is hardly apolitical. He began in earnest when he was elected as one of 551 delegates that California would send to the Democratic National Convention in 2016. To secure his spot, he herded some 70 people in his Pasadena recovery network—mostly twentysomethings fresh out of rehab—to the delegates breakfast, a political event open to all voters to select the state’s delegates. Few from Hampton’s crew had ever voted before; some hadn’t been registered until Hampton nudged them along. To get enough votes, the group fanned out among the liberal California crowd and shared how they were trying to beat addiction, or at the very least their attempts to beat addiction, and that Hampton’s goal was to make recovery part of the political dialogue during the election. He won by a landslide.

This should serve as ample evidence there is hunger for the recovery community to build, well, a community, and to raise their voices together. But the question remains: How should it be done? Though a Democrat, Hampton is nothing if not willing to play nice with others. He says he gets beat up on his social media all the time for criticizing Trump (he will message those people back and try to explain that his attacks aren’t personal). “No doubt the Democratic Party platform has been very strong for us, but we live in the age of Trump. We live in the age of a Republican Congress. We need Republican support,” he told me. In early August, he teamed up with none other than Jeb Bush and Dr. Oz to co-author an op-ed in HuffPost imploring the president to declare the epidemic a national emergency. Despite this week’s slow steps to start to take action, it feels worrisomely possible that, along with the dearth of other policy accomplishments of the Trump administration, the overdose crisis will simply continue to get the short end of the stick.

That is, unless, the people and the loved ones of those people, who the crisis hits the hardest, start to make some noise. Despite the heterogeneity of the millions in recovery, Harvard’s John Kelly is optimistic about Facing Addiction’s political organizing. “Even if you took 1 percent of that 11 million who identify as being in recovery, who are real go-getters, hardcore activists, you still have around 10,000 or 11,000 people,” he said. Referring to Hampton, he said, “Imagine if you have 11,000 folks like him, duplicates of him out there—that could instigate a lot of change.”

* * *

But the problem that faced HIV/AIDS activists is a similar one now facing the larger recovery community: For everyone who joins it, there are others who don’t survive to be their own advocates. In August, Hampton texted me that a friend of his, whose recovery efforts he was sponsoring, had died of an overdose in a Pasadena sober house. Naloxone, the drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, wasn’t available in the house. Not having naloxone available in a sober house is like running a hospital without a defibrillator. Worse still, some facilities choose not to keep naloxone around because they incorrectly think it “enables” or “encourages” using.

Hampton’s sadness boiled into anger. “His death was 100 percent preventable,” he said over the phone. “It costs $1,500 a month to live there. The owner and operators should have naloxone on hand and know how to use it.” (His response as an organizer was to invite Missouri harm reductionist Chad Sabora to California to distribute naloxone and train sober houses and treatment centers on how to use it.)

Overdoses leave loved ones behind—loved ones who are part of the group of people whose lives are intimately connected to the recovery movement and who may be persuaded to vote for political candidates who make real solutions a priority. Parents of overdose victims have started grief groups, such as Broken No More, and in the process have become powerful voices in addiction advocacy. The GOP’s thwarted attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act this year, if they had passed, would have likely stunted efforts to curb overdoses. “It could’ve rolled back years, if not decades, of progress on this issue,” Hampton said.

Given this, Hampton still believes Republicans can help solve the crisis: “Yes. Clearly, they’re in power,” he said. “The president campaigned on it. They have the capacity to do this.” But, he adds, “Whether or not they will actually take advantage and do the right thing is yet to be known.”

In the press, the overdose crisis is constantly referred to as one of the only issues left that has bipartisan support. But what if one party is actively working against evidence-based solutions? Take, for instance, Indiana social conservatives who recently shut down a syringe exchange program. What if activism actually needs to be partisan? Other countries have been where we are with rising overdoses; by using a combination of harm reduction tools, criminal justice reform, and modern medicine, they were able to solve their own drug crises. That progress is detailed in a recent report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy called “The Opioid Crisis in North America.”

But much stands in the way or even threatens similar progress from happening in America. Our obsession with incarceration is one: The Massachusetts Department of Public Health found the overdose death rate is 120 times higher for people released from prisons and jails in its state. A whopping 46 percent of federal prisoners, disproportionately nonwhite, are in on drug offenses. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has indicated he favors policies that would renew the failed “war on drugs.”

We need mental health care and better rehab, but we also need more education and understanding. Columbia University’s Carl Hart, who teaches a course on drugs and behavior at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility, refutes politicians’ convenient calls for more “beds.” Hart points out that most of the people dying are combining opiates with other sedatives, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines. “They are dying from ignorance, not the drugs,” Hart said. Another factor causing a spike in overdoses is überpotent, illicit fentanyl, which can be deadly even for more experienced users who have an opioid tolerance. Dan Ciccarone, the lead investigator of a study called Heroin in Transition that tracks America’s heroin supply, told me we’re no longer in an opioid crisis—he calls it a poisoning crisis.

But all these solutions as outlined—criminal justice reform, affordable health care, changing the way substance use is stigmatized in society—are not being pursued equally by the two major political parties. And the party endorsing them as solutions is not the party in charge. It may seem uncouth to take a movement that is gutting the entire country and acknowledge that only the Democrats have a platform set up to combat the crisis in a way we know will help. But perhaps giving up the myth of a bipartisan crisis is a lesson we can take from recovery itself: The first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one.

There’s little reason to have faith that the current government in power will implement policies that will keep people alive. And there’s even less reason to wait. As unimaginable as it seems, the overdose crisis is going to get worse before it gets better. I can only hope that those who feel powerless over their addictions may realize that by working together, we have more power than we know.

Breathable 6″ Full Size Firm Foam Crib and Toddler Bed Mattress

by Avish Dahiya @ Products – Dream On Me

Dream On Me, Breathable 6 Inch Core Mattress is a 2 in 1 full size foam mattress that offers you the freedom of choice and is the answer to your babies comfort and support which includes a breathe flow technology. The hypoallergenic, antibacterial, CertiPUR-US certified layers mattress is covered with a breath-flow material on the […]

Sleeping on Your Stomach: Is It Bad for You

by bestmattress @ Best Mattress Reviews

When it comes to sleep, we are less than willing to compromise. After all, the best sleeping position is the one that you’re in right now, at least when getting out of bed. But for some of us, sleeping can be a tedious task, and we want to know more about what our sleeping habits […]

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Sweet Dreams 6” 88 Coil Spring Crib and Toddler Bed Mattress

by Avish Dahiya @ Products – Dream On Me

Your baby will sleep peacefully on the Sweet Dreams Spring Coil Mattress by Dream On Me. Constructed with quality materials and workmanship, this mattress is manufactured with pride in the USA. This lightweight mattress offers 88 durable, interwoven, heat tempered, steel coils providing supreme comfort and support. A protective polyurethane foam wrap on each side […]

Breathable Foam Standard Crib and Toddler Mattress

by Avish Dahiya @ Mattresses – Dream On Me

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Baby Trend Nursery Center Breathable Two-Sided 3″ Foam mattress with Square Corner

by Avish Dahiya @ Products – Dream On Me

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Tempur-Pedic Alternatives In 2018

by Lindsay S @ Choose Mattress

While you may or may not love your bed, ask yourself – how comfortable are you while sleeping on it? Replacing your decade old mattress can help you sleep comfortably, but choosing the best mattress isn’t always as simple as one may think. For example, brands and types are abundant, and budgets range from cheap to very expensive, so scrimping could be detrimental to health, whilst overpaying could be pointless. If you’ve chosen the wrong mattress for yourself in terms of comfort, you’d most likely end up having a tough time sleeping and eventually suffer from sleep deprivation. Comfort aside,

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Breathable 6″ Little Butterflies 2-in-1 Foam Core Crib and Toddler Bed Mattress

by Avish Dahiya @ Products – Dream On Me

Dream On Me, Breathable 6 Inch Core Mattress is a 2 in 1 full size foam mattress that offers you the freedom of choice and is the answer to your babies comfort and support which includes a breathe flow technology. The hypoallergenic, anti bacterial, CertiPUR-US certified layers mattress is covered with a breath-flow material on […]

Week 24 - Crib Mattresses

Week 24 - Crib Mattresses


Lucie's List

Updated June 2017 I’ve written about regular crib mattresses. I’ve written about organic crib mattresses. I truly believe there is something for everyone in every budget. I realize your baby might not start sleeping in a crib until several months...

Our Aviya Bed Review: Is This America’s Favorite for 2018?

by Sarah Cummings @ The Sleep Advisor

The post Our Aviya Bed Review: Is This America’s Favorite for 2018? appeared first on The Sleep Advisor.

Recall: Crib Mattresses Don't Meet Fire Standards

Recall: Crib Mattresses Don't Meet Fire Standards


WebMD

Cribs, sold by major retailers online, did not meet federal flammability standards.

Leesa vs Lull Mattress- What You Need To Know

by Frank Apodaca @ The Sleep Judge

Facebook’s Revamp Includes an Effort to Fight Fake News

Facebook’s Revamp Includes an Effort to Fight Fake News

by Daniel Engber @ Slate Articles

Facebook is shifting tactics in the war on fake news. A few weeks ago, in the quiet lead-up to the major revamp of its news feed announced Thursday, the company made another tweak to what users see: It said it would no longer mark bogus headlines with a red-flag warning, as had been its practice since the end of 2016. Previously, these “Disputed” tags showed up beneath any story that had been rated false by at least two independent, fact-checking organizations. Now those tags have been replaced by something less intrusive—one or more “Related Articles,” supplied by fact-checkers, that offer context for (and perhaps debunking of) the headline’s claims.

The new system should have some clear advantages: First, it gives the checkers greater flexibility and room to challenge stories that are not entirely, 100 percent made up; second, it will speed things up, because Facebook will no longer require two assessments before it starts to show corrective facts; third, it reduces the number of clicks or taps required before a user sees specific fact-check information. But taken as a whole, the change is somewhat mystifying and maybe even ill-advised. Its design appears to be based (at least in part) on the science of post-truth—and on the flashy but fishy notion that debunking myths only makes them stronger.

This idea, that addressing lies with facts may backfire, has been widely shared in both the media and social science literature over the past 10 years. Now it’s cited by the team at Facebook in explaining its approach to fake news: “Academic research on correcting misinformation has shown that putting a strong image, like a red flag, next to an article may actually entrench deeply held beliefs,” wrote product manager Tessa Lyons on Dec. 20, 2017. A concurrent Medium post, from three more Facebookers on the project, also mentioned this research. And Facebook’s CEO and founder, Mark Zuckerberg, alluded to the backfire effect in his manifesto on building an “informed community” from last February: “Research shows that some of the most obvious ideas,” he wrote, “like showing people an article from the opposite perspective, actually deepen polarization.”

The problem is, the backfire effect that so worries Facebook may not exist at all. The Medium post described the above links to a review of debunking research from 2012, published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, which indeed contains a section, titled “Making Things Worse,” on the risk of backfire. But more recent efforts to study this phenomenon more carefully—large-scale, preregistered studies using thousands of participants—have turned up little evidence in its favor. That’s not to say that backfires never, ever happen. It’s possible that a red-flag warning on Facebook could end up entrenching false beliefs for certain users under certain circumstances. But, according to the latest science (which I reviewed in detail for Slate last week), this danger has been greatly overstated.

In fact, if we’re going by the academic research literature, there’s good reason to believe that Facebook’s abandoned red-flag warnings were somewhat useful and effective. Last May, Dartmouth’s Brendan Nyhan and his students conducted a preregistered study of news feed warnings on a sample of about 3,000 adults. The researchers showed each participant a half a dozen fake-news headlines—e.g. “Trump Plagiarized the Bee Movie for Inaugural Speech”—sometimes adding a red flag of just the kind that Facebook had been using to indicate the story was disputed by independent fact-checkers. Then they asked their subjects to rate these headlines on a four-point scale from “Not at all accurate” to “Very accurate.” Nyhan and his students found a nice effect: In the absence of a warning flag, 29 percent of their subjects said the bogus headlines were either “somewhat accurate” or “very accurate,” but when the flag was shown, that proportion of fake-news believers dropped by about one-third, to 19 percent.

Another very similar study—from Yale’s David Rand and Gordon Pennycook—was posted in September 2017. In that one, researchers showed real- and fake-news headlines, with or without red-flag warnings, to more than 5,000 participants. Like Nyhan and his students, Rand and Pennycook found the warnings worked, at least a bit: Subjects described the tagged headlines as being slightly less accurate, on average, than the ones that did not have a warning. (The warnings might have been even more effective, Pennycook told me in an interview this week, if Facebook had put them just above the fake-news headlines instead of just below them.)

Rand and Pennycook’s research did have one crucial caveat. According to their study, the presence of a warning flag on one fake-news story could make other, untagged stories seem more accurate. They referred to this as an “implied truth effect.” For certain subjects—especially young adults or those who supported Donald Trump—the absence of a fact-check tag ended up seeming like a badge of credibility; it made them more believable. (Nyhan failed to find the same, but when the data from the two papers are combined, the effect appears to be there.) Given the disturbing scope of Facebook’s fake news problem, it’s hard to see how human-powered fact-checks could ever tag more than a fraction of the phony headlines on the site. And if the implied truth effect applied to all the others, the end result would be catastrophic.

But this concern must be squared with the results from Rand and Pennycook’s earlier study of the Facebook warnings, first posted last April. That one, which had a somewhat different design and about 1,000 subjects, confirmed the basic finding that red flags in the news feed lower people’s belief in fake-news headlines. It also showed that those warnings made subjects more skeptical overall—rather than more credulous—when it came to other, untagged headlines.

In a brief interview on Tuesday, I asked the members of the Facebook team whether and how their work was influenced by the academic research literature. User-experience researcher Grace Jackson said that the backfire effect is “something that we wanted to be aware of based on the academic literature,” but that “in our own research, it actually only happens extremely rarely.” She did not address the Rand and Pennycook papers but did mention that the team had been inspired by a 2015 paper from Leticia Bode and Emily Vraga, which, said Jackson, found that corrective information “worked really well” when presented in a format similar to the one that Facebook just rolled out.

For that study, Bode and Vraga showed students postings from a mocked-up Facebook news feed, including a bogus story claiming that genetically modified foods will make you sick. Students in one experimental condition saw a pair of “Related Links” below that item, showing refutations of the claim from Snopes.com and the American Medical Association. Bode and Vraga found that among the people who came into the study with the belief that GMOs are harmful, the related links helped to change their minds.

Facebook’s new approach, in which fact-check information gets presented as “Related Articles,” closely mirrors Bode and Vraga’s experimental treatment. Yet the 2015 paper is, in fact, equivocal in its results. In addition to the claims about the health effects of GMOs, Bode and Vraga also looked at fake-news headlines on a supposed link between vaccines and autism. In this latter case, they found no effect from their corrections. The “Related Links” from Snopes.com and the American Medical Association did not change believers’ attitudes.

Bode says it’s not clear why their treatment didn’t work for the myth about vaccines. It could be that the false belief is more established, so it’s harder to uproot. Or else it could be that the anti-vaxxer myth is more politicized and thus more amenable to motivated reasoning. The same ambiguity applies to Facebook’s efforts. Are the most dangerous fake-news stories in people’s news feeds like the ones about GMOs—and thus perhaps amenable to this format of debunking? Or are they like the ones about vaccines, where “Related Stories” might have no effect?

It’s also hard to know how much confidence one should have in extrapolating from the Bode and Vraga findings. Their study had about 500 subjects, but these were split across eight experimental conditions. And their positive result concerned just the subset of participants—about half, overall—who believed that GMOs will make you sick. That means they looked at subgroups of about several dozen people per condition. For the vaccines question, these sample sizes were smaller still. That’s not to say that Bode and Vraga got things wrong—only that their findings were preliminary and constrained by opportunity and cost. (In subsequent work, they’ve found similar results on the topic of GMOs.) If Facebook cared to know whether “Related Stories” really work to counter lies, the company could check the numbers for itself. Instead of citing modest research done by academics, its employees could, in theory, run something like the same experiment on 1 million Facebook users, or 10 million, or 100 million. Do “Related Articles” change behavior? Do red-flag warnings backfire? Is there an implied truth effect when not every article is tagged? If anyone will ever know the answer to those questions, it’s the team at Facebook.

In fact, they may already have those answers. In our conversation on Tuesday, I asked what they’ve found from their own analyses. Tessa Lyons, the product manager, only mentioned one result: When the team compared its new “Related Articles” format to the old red-flag warnings, they found that click-thru rates remained the same, while shares declined. In other words, users were just as likely to read the fake-news articles that appeared on their feeds but less likely to repost them for their friends. How much less likely? Lyons wouldn’t say. What about comparisons to baseline? How effective were either of these formats at reducing fake-news spread when compared to giving no fact-check information whatsoever? Again, Lyons wouldn’t say.

It’s possible Facebook has mined its vast supply of internal data and optimized its fake news–fighting tactics accordingly. As Bode points out, the company is full of very smart people, including many social science Ph.D.s. But if that were really true, then why bother with a smoke screen of citations to a wobbly academic research literature? Why not just say, “Look, we’ve crunched the numbers for ourselves, and this approach works best,” without sharing proprietary details?

Here’s another thought: It could be that the change from red-flag warnings to “Related Articles” isn’t really that important anyway. According to Lyons, the most effective way to slow these stories’ spread is to bury them on news feeds, and Facebook already does that. Once a story has been tagged as “false” in either system, it gets demoted by the Facebook algorithm and becomes much less likely to appear to users—Lyons says this intervention is the main driver in reducing a fake story’s reach by 80 percent. Links to “Related Articles” from third-party fact-checkers only come into play in those instances when the fake-news story does pop up in spite of its demotion. In other words, even if the fact-check links were quite effective, their real-world impact would be marginal.

This all raises an unnerving question: Given that both the red-flag warnings and “Related Articles” methods likely offer little more than a limp, second-line defense against fake news, why bother with them at all? If Facebook can demote these stories in its users’ feeds, such that their spread will be shrunk by 80 percent, then certainly it has the the power to eliminate them altogether. Indeed, the main takeaway from Thursday’s large announcement is that Facebook is adjusting its news feed to focus less on news overall—at least, less on news shared from publishers. (Individuals can still share whatever they want.) “We don’t want any ‘false news’ on Facebook,” said Lyons, using the company’s preferred name for the phenomenon.

The best way to accomplish this would be to pull stories from the site as soon as they’ve been identified as fakes. Instead of squeezing bogus headlines through tighter filters in the news feed algorithm, the site could just delete them. In practice, though, that would look a lot like censorship—a top-down decree about what’s true and what isn’t. (Lyons says items are removed this way only when they violate Facebook’s community standards.) So instead the company has staked out a middle ground, where fake news isn’t deleted; it’s disappeared.

That seems a little icky, too: If it isn’t censorship, then it’s certainly censorshipish. On the other hand, Facebook’s second-line approach—giving context for a bogus story, surrounding it with facts—has the benefit of seeming ethical and optimistic; it assumes that people care about the truth and that, all things being equal, they’ll tend to handle information in a responsible way. Of course, it may not work as well as disappearance at reducing shares and clicks. Of course, it may not work at all. But at least it sends a signal to the rest of us: Facebook wants to keep us as informed as possible.

Maybe this explains its making hay of a subtle shift from red-flag warnings to “Related Stories.” Whether this was based on solid social science or a careful audit of internal numbers, the story hinges on the feel-good notion that Facebook will bury lies with wholesome facts—and in a way we all can see. Here’s the ugly truth behind that curtain of transparency: If the social network wins its war against fake news, it will be driven by the secret, brutal engines of its code.

Why the Raw Water Movement Is So Obnoxious

Why the Raw Water Movement Is So Obnoxious

by Christine Manganaro @ Slate Articles

The belief that “natural” is better has animated many food and health trends in recent memory, with natural as a shorthand denoting purity, a lack of processing, or rejection of modern medicine: raw foodism, enthusiasm for raw dairy, the paleo diet, and organic evangelism. Next up: “raw water.”

The raw water trend takes naturalness to its extreme: Proponents boast that it comes from “off the grid,” celebrating its freedom from government taint. Cody Friesen, CEO of Zero Mass Water, which is marketed not as raw water but as “pure water,” disparages municipal water. His $4,500 Source system draws water from the air we all breathe. (Raw water comes from pristine springs.)* As reported to the New York Times, “The goal, Mr. Friesen said, is to make water ‘that’s ultra high quality and secure, totally disconnected from all infrastructure.’ ”

There are so many things that are obnoxious about the raw water trend that it seems entirely possible that it is in fact the most obnoxious Silicon Valley disruption project yet. It’s instructive to go beyond the gut-level reaction against raw water to consider exactly why it’s so frustrating.

There’s the greed. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have found a way to market drinking water up to $36.99 for a 2½-gallon bottle and refills for $14.99—that’s about 30 times the cost of regular bottled water, which itself costs between 300 and 2,000 times the cost of municipal drinking water. Essentially, they’ve turned one of the requirements for sustaining life into a lucrative commodity and luxury good. Live Water founder Mukhande Singh (né Christopher Sanborn) sells his product through delivery service and in natural food stores like the Rainbow co-op in San Francisco, where Live Water is frequently sold out.* Other vendors, like Liquid Eden in San Diego, capitalize on the “water consciousness movement” to the tune of 900 gallons a day in sales.

Then there’s the stupidity. Raw water enthusiasts trespass on private land, at night, to harvest from secret springs. These people are not only risking legal consequences, they’re risking contracting a bacterial infection or parasite, as physicians and public health experts have warned. This water fetching trades on fantasies about an environment that doesn’t exist and nostalgia for water purity that never existed. Spring water is not necessarily free of elements that harm health. All water sources are part of the environment and are not isolated from “industrial age contamination,” as described by the Live Water guys. The idea that Americans drank abundant pristine water before the industrial age, in the first half of the 19th century and earlier, is not supported by the historical record. There is a reason that everyone including children drank so much hard cider and beer during the 1700s and 1800s: because waterborne illness was prevalent, and alcoholic beverages were safer than many sources of “raw water.” This was especially true in proximity to towns whose water sources and sewage systems were not well differentiated.

And then there’s the bad science. Like erroneous claims that drinking fresh juice cleanses the body of toxins, claims about the healthfulness of untreated water are based on belief rather than evidence. Raw water purveyors either lack the scientific literacy to interpret the available research or intentionally misrepresent science to support health claims about their product. The Live Water website cites an inconclusive study to support its claim that “raw spring water has vast healing abilities.” The linked journal article claims that there is a correlation (which is not causation, as the saying goes) between the skin-regenerating effects of topical application of water from Italy’s Comano spring and the presence of nonpathogenic bacteria in the water. No untreated water was consumed by anyone in the course of this study.

But what’s most obnoxious about this phenomenon is its misanthropy. Most infuriating of all is perhaps how the raw water movement underscores the increasing realization that tech-bro Silicon Valley fetishists have abandoned the rest of society.

It is not hard to see how twisted it is for a group of privileged people with access to safe municipal drinking water to spurn it in favor of something more dangerous when people in largely black and poor Flint, Michigan, are being poisoned with lead and people in largely black rural Alabama are contracting hookworm from untreated water. By claiming that tap water is “toilet water with birth control drugs,” that fluoride is a “mind control drug,” and that treated water lacks probiotics supposedly present in untreated water, purveyors of “raw water” incite mistrust in municipal water safety—in places where the water has been proven safe to drink, no less—and perpetuate cynicism about regulations that protect public health. (Conversely, when people making fun of raw water frame all untreated water as giardia juice, they betray their ignorance about the number of Americans living in rural areas who get their water from perfectly adequate wells.)

The raw water trend is consistent with other asocial behaviors by venture capitalists using their wealth to eschew civic responsibility and insulate themselves from social problems. If raw water evangelists actually think treated water is poisoned by fluoride and prescription drugs, that water safety is threatened by industrial pollution, and that a lack of good bacteria found in our water is really a significant cause of malnourishment, then they ought to be moved to activism on what should be understood as a matter of civil and human rights. Instead, they’ve created expensive untreated bottled water, a market solution and form of conspicuous consumption. The raw water movement doesn’t only reveal how gullible and unscientific this community is—it also secures its place as our modern-day moneyed overlords who care little about the serfs down below.

*Correction, Jan. 8, 2018: This story originally misstated that Doug Evans is the CEO of Live Water. He is just a customer. (Return.)

*Update, Jan. 8, 2018: This paragraph has been updated to clarify that Zero Mass Water, which collects its water from water vapor using a $4,500 system, does not consider itself part of the raw water movement. (Return.)

Why Is Monsanto Inviting This Alt-Right Hero to a Fireside Chat on Farming?

Why Is Monsanto Inviting This Alt-Right Hero to a Fireside Chat on Farming?

by Kavin Senapathy @ Slate Articles

On Sunday, during the annual American Farm Bureau Federation conference in Nashville, Tennessee, Monsanto’s director of millennial engagement, Vance Crowe, will host a fireside chat with University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson, addressing “The Danger of Allowing Ideologies to Grow Unopposed.” The topic makes sense, given the agrichemical company’s stake in agricultural genetic engineering and the fearmongering and errors driving the non-GMO movement. Monsanto and American farmers should explore why people embrace false narratives about food. It’s the guest choice that raises questions.

Peterson is a clinical psychologist studying social, abnormal, and personality psychology. But he is best known for the YouTube channel that has made him a “belle of the alt-right,” as described in a November 2017 profile in Canada’s Maclean’s magazine. His “lectures about profound psychological ideas” became hugely popular following his swift rise to notoriety in the fall of 2016, when he refused to comply with university policy on addressing students with preferred gender pronouns. Missing from these videos—which net him more than $50,000 a month on Patreon according to a July report from the Toronto Star—is any commentary on agriculture. Rather, Peterson’s oratory cloaks bigotry in pseudointellectual arguments, revealing a chillingly detached dismissal of civil rights.

Crowe, who has worked as Monsanto’s director of millennial engagement since 2014, described Peterson as a “compelling speaker.” Crowe explained his impetus for the talk on his LinkedIn page: “It is my sincere hope that [Peterson] can help farmers develop an understanding of how to speak truth in a complex world where speaking up can make you a target,” Crowe wrote. “I asked Dr. Peterson to address how farmers can prepare their children to go to college with the skills needed to push back effectively on bad ideologies.” He echoed that language in an email to Slate, writing that “an invitation was extended to Dr. Peterson so that he could offer insights from outside the agriculture and genetic engineering communities. His expertise is wide ranging, but he was selected for his research into why people believe what they do and how those beliefs drive actions.”

Why people believe what they believe is a wide topic that many psychology professors investigate. And while Peterson’s lectures certainly do tend to focus on the idea of “pushing back,” the contents of them raise questions about whether the bad ideologies are the ones he’s rejecting or the ones he espouses.

Consider, for instance, Peterson’s insistence that our culture is doomed because physical violence is forbidden when conversations with women move “beyond the boundaries of civil discourse.” As Peterson declared in an October 2017 video, “I know how to stand up to a man who’s unfairly trespassed against me. The reason I know that is because the parameters for my resistance are quite well-defined, which is we talk, we argue, we push, and then it becomes physical.” A man who wouldn’t fight another man under any circumstances deserves “absolutely no respect,” according to Peterson, because the “underlying threat of physicality is always there,” serving to “keep things civilized to some degree.”

That society is “increasingly dominated by a view of masculinity that’s mostly characteristic of women who have terrible personality disorders and who are unable to have healthy relationships with men,” isn’t men’s crisis to solve, Peterson suggests. “[I]t’s sane women who have to stand up against their crazy sisters and say, ‘Look, enough of that, enough man-hating, enough pathology, enough bringing disgrace on us as a gender.’ ” The fact that “sane women” have so far failed to successfully accomplish this has meant that there is no “regulating force for that—that terrible femininity” and that we are “undermining the masculine power of the culture in a way that’s, I think, fatal.”

Peterson seeks to eliminate women’s studies, ethnic studies, sociology, and other swaths of the humanities and social sciences, which he calls “postmodern neo-Marxist” “indoctrination cult classes,” from being taught in universities—an interesting philosophy for someone who “plans to provide his own perspective on how farmers can prepare their children to go to college and be open to new ideas while resisting the temptation to view the world through over-simplified ideologies,” as Crowe wrote in his email to Slate. Peterson also often rails against “political correctness” and “identity politics,” framing these issues as a “war against free speech” and positioning himself as a martyr. (“If they put me in jail, I’ll go on a hunger strike,” he told a TVOntario panel in 2016.) Particularly chilling is the professor’s amusement (and the audience’s chuckles) as he offers his take on “identity politics and the Marxist lie of white privilege,” asking, “What if you're gay and black and female, well then, what if you’re not very bright and gay and black and female, and then what if you're ugly and not very bright and gay and black and female?” The “game,” as he describes marginalized people’s attempts to bring light to social inequity, can be played an infinite number of ways. Peterson describes the idea that there is such a thing as marginalized groups as “comical.”

In an October 2016 letter to the professor, which was also shared with the media, members of the University of Toronto administration acknowledged Peterson’s right to “express and debate views that may be discomfiting or even offensive to others,” but admonished that his rights “are not without limitation.” Fellow University of Toronto faculty have condemned Peterson’s statements on nonbinary and transgender people. (He is still listed as a professor at the university.)

Monsanto declined to comment further when we reached out, instead referring us to Crowe’s comments. In our questions, we asked whether, given Monsanto’s boasting of its rating as one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality” and its “inclusive environment where employees of all genders, ethnicities, backgrounds, and orientations feel welcome and able to contribute,” hosting Peterson ran counter to its stated ethos. Crowe said the company was “proud” of that distinction and noted that Monsanto is “the most diverse and inclusive” place he’s ever worked. He added that “At Monsanto, creating an inclusive environment where employees of all genders, ethnicities, backgrounds and orientations feel welcome and able to contribute is core to creating a great place to work.”

That is why it’s even more baffling that the company would choose to bring an alt-right darling to address, of all things, how dangerous ideologies spread. Crowe noted that “While Monsanto’s position[s] on certain topics may not align with those of everyone[’s], including Dr. Peterson[’s], we have a deep culture of respect of those who hold different views and are willing to listen. It is important for all of us to have meaningful and constructive conversations with numerous parties in order to better understand different points of views.”

But Monsanto is not just listening to these views. It is inviting them into a fireside chat, the result of which will promote Peterson, his work, and, by extension, the offensive views he espouses on his YouTube channel. It’s hard to see what good that will do for encouraging more understanding toward GMOs—and that’s a shame, because more open conversation around GMOs is necessary.

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Buying a Baby Crib Mattress: The Inside Story

Buying a Baby Crib Mattress: The Inside Story


Care.com

When you're outfitting your baby's crib, do your homework and test mattresses for fit and firmness.You've picked out a crib, but where do you even start to select a baby crib mattress? Mattress shopping may not be as fun as selecting the crib itself, but it's an important purchase. Just ...

5 Common Types Of Sleep Disorders

by Lindsay S @ Choose Mattress

Minor and major sleep disorders are becoming an increasingly common occurrence in modern times, especially prevalent in individuals who have for whatever reason failed to embrace healthy and stress-free lifestyles. It’s important to note that the most common sleep disorders doesn’t necessarily mean lack of sleep, it can also mean too much of it, or alternatively could be neither, but instead something that occurs during slumber that isn’t classed as a normal sleeping habit such as excessive snoring. Broadly speaking, these types of disorders occur in the form of compromised rejuvenation, and will eventually compromise the overall well-being and health

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Instead of Fighting Sea Level Rise, This Town Is Embracing It

Instead of Fighting Sea Level Rise, This Town Is Embracing It

by Ashley Dejean @ Slate Articles

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and has been republished here with permission from Climate Desk.

Superstorm Sandy hit the quiet beach community of Tottenville on Staten Island hard. Two of the more than 14,000 people who lived there were killed when the storm surge sent waves up to 16 feet high destroying homes. Five years later, many haven’t been rebuilt.

Disasters often spark efforts to prevent similar problems in the future. When it comes to the flooding of coastal communities during hurricanes, the approach typically has been to keep water out by either erecting sea walls or encouraging residents to move inland. In contrast, planners preparing for the next big storm in Tottenville are creating a project that, instead of keeping water out, “embraces” it. The project is called Living Breakwaters, and it’s designed to substantially reduce the size of massive and destructive waves during major storms by creating a barrier that protrudes out of the water. That barrier contains an oyster reef that will, in turn, establish an ecosystem further protecting the coastline and diminishing the power of the waves.

Sandy hit in October 2012, causing more than $70 billion worth of damage. At least 117 people died from the storm, and 650,000 homes in New York and New Jersey were damaged or destroyed. Government officials scrambled to respond to the devastation and prevent such destruction in the future. The Federal Emergency Management Agency administered checks for emergency repairs and brought food, fuel, and water into hard-hit areas. The Environmental Protection Agency helped fix damaged sewage treatment plants and assessed the condition of drinking water. Even the Army Corps of Engineers and Homeland Security were involved in the recovery effort.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development was responsible for giving localities money to work on longer-term recovery efforts through the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program. In the past, most of that effort focused on rebuilding damaged areas, but after Hurricane Sandy, HUD also prepared for the future. The agency invested nearly $1 billion in a competition aimed at finding creative ways to do just that.

The Rebuild by Design competition was launched by the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, headed by former Obama HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. Ten teams designed innovative resiliency plans for specific communities with financial support from private sources such as New York University’s Institute for Public Knowledge, which supports research into areas of public concern, and the Rockefeller Foundation. In 2014, HUD awarded six projects a total of $920 million through the community block grant disaster recovery program. The competition led to the creation of a private organization called Rebuild by Design, which now works with communities around the world to develop projects focused on resilience.

The project, which received $60 million from HUD, was designed by Kate Orff, the first landscape architect to be awarded the MacArthur fellowship. Sandy damaged not just homes and businesses, but also Staten Island’s entire southern shoreline, which had already been receding. She explains that her firm, Scape, wants “to literally make this a living piece of infrastructure.” Oysters would not only have a habitat but “could help the breakwater become more of an artificial reef that can grow and expand with climate change.” The breakwaters will attract sea life and seawater will be further purified by the presence of the oysters—creating a healthier ecosystem. She describes this approach as “the value of nature-based infrastructure.” Over an extended period of time, she explains, offshore ecosystems have the potential to “help to reduce wave action and erosion.”

The Tottenville community has generally been positive about this project, says Jim Pistilli, who heads the Tottenville Civic Association. But some neighbors worry it will bring in too many visitors, and others doubt whether a novel, untested approach will even work. But Pistilli says the more traditional approach of building a sea wall wouldn’t make sense. “We don’t want something out in the ocean that’s jetting up, obstructing the view,” he says. “In Tottenville we look very favorably toward the breakwaters—doing the job but at the same time being aesthetically and ecologically very pleasing.”

The project was approved in 2014, and the past three years have been spent in an intensive permitting and environmental review process, which Dan Greene, a lawyer in the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery in New York state, describes as one of the most rigorous he has ever seen.

“Innovative projects are looked at with a high degree of scrutiny by regulatory agencies,” he says, “because they have responsibility for permitting these permanent structures in our waterways and nobody wants to get it wrong.”

For Greene, the breakwaters illustrate an important shift in infrastructure planning. Instead of having an unattractive and potentially ineffective gray barrier protecting Tottenville, the breakwaters will potentially be an aesthetically pleasing project that revitalizes an ecosystem in the water, restores the shoreline, and helps connect the community with the water. “These are intended to be model projects that can be replicated elsewhere,” he says. The construction process is slated to begin in 2019 and finish sometime in 2021.

Pippa Brashear, director of planning and resilience at Scape, tells Mother Jones that breakwaters aren’t supposed to work alone in reducing risk along the shoreline. “The breakwaters provide a first layer of defense upon which other elements can be layered,” she explains. HUD’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program is also funding another resiliency effort to build dunes, which Brashear describes as “a second line of defense,” near the shoreline.

Living Breakwaters also invoke the past to reconnect residents with the water. In the 19th century, Tottenville was known as “the town the oyster built” because its economy and culture developed from oyster fishing. Pistilli can imagine the future, with a shoreline that will have not only “enriched … the people on the beach, but will have provided an enriched sea line for the entire community to enjoy.”

Sweet Dreams 6” 88 Coil Spring Crib and Toddler Bed Mattress

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Three Dartmouth Psychology Professors Are Under Investigation for “Sexual Misconduct”

Three Dartmouth Psychology Professors Are Under Investigation for “Sexual Misconduct”

by Daniel Engber @ Slate Articles

Three tenured professors from the psychological and brain sciences department at Dartmouth College—Todd Heatherton, Bill Kelley, and Paul Whalen—are targets of a criminal investigation, according to official statements from Dartmouth’s president and the New Hampshire attorney general on Oct. 31. The school, which has variously described the allegations as referring to “serious misconduct” and “sexual misconduct,” had already launched its own internal investigation of the three men. Heatherton, Kelley, and Whalen are all on paid leave with restricted campus access, according to the statement from Dartmouth’s president. Heatherton also lost his affiliation at New York University, where he had been a visiting scholar since July.

Attorneys for Heatherton responded that their client “has engaged in no sexual relations with any student” and that he “is confident that he has not violated any written policy of Dartmouth, including policies relating to sexual misconduct and sexual harassment.” They also claim that the investigations into Heatherton are limited to an unspecified “out-of-state matter” and unrelated to the conduct of the other two professors. Kelley and Whalen have not issued any statements and did not respond to interview requests for this story.

A public accounting of the allegations has yet to emerge. (On Friday, Dartmouth’s president refuted the idea that they involved the unethical treatment of research subjects.) But Simine Vazire, a tenured professor of psychology at the University of California–Davis (and one-time Slate contributor), says that several weeks before news of the criminal investigation broke, she learned from a colleague that Dartmouth was seeking information about potential sexual misconduct by its faculty. She reached out to the chair of the psychological and brain sciences department and was connected with an external investigator. On Oct. 17, she told that investigator about an episode from early 2002, in which she alleges Heatherton groped her at an academic conference.

That incident occurred at a waterfront hotel in Savannah, Georgia, she says, where more than 1,300 people had gathered for the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Vazire, who was then a 21-year-old graduate student, was attending one of her first major conferences. Standing in a circle of students and faculty members outside a banquet hall, she found herself beside Heatherton, then in his early 40s and a full professor at Dartmouth. The two had not been introduced. Without saying a word, Vazire says, Heatherton reached his hand behind her, out of view of the others, and squeezed her butt. Erik Noftle, a psychology professor who dated Vazire in the early 2000s, confirms that she described the incident to him a year after it allegedly occurred, in 2003.

Vazire says she wasn’t that upset by the encounter. “This one ass-grabbing, it was just kind of a blip on the radar,” she told me. In sharing her experience, Vazire wanted to make it very clear that she didn’t consider her story of being groped at an academic conference on par with more grievous forms of sexual harassment, nor did she want it to overshadow the pending results of the investigations by Dartmouth and the New Hampshire attorney general. Still, she says the memory has stuck with her, as a first experience of the rampant, casual harassment that pervades the field of psychology and academic science as a whole.

“I do not remember touching her in any way at a conference 15 years ago,” Heatherton said via email. “I have just recently heard of this for the first time, but, if I touched her as she described, all I can say is that I am profoundly sorry.”

Heatherton added that he first remembers meeting Vazire in 2011 and that they have had “a collegial, but distant relationship.” He noted that Vazire emailed him in 2011 to recommend one of her female honors students “who is going to be applying to graduate school with you.” This student confirmed to me that Vazire wrote the email on her behalf but says Vazire also informed her about what had allegedly occurred between her and Heatherton in 2002. The student did not end up attending Dartmouth.

A 2010 survey of female earth scientists found that more than half had experienced sexual harassment in the course of their careers. According to a 2014 study, more than one-quarter of female archaeologists said they’d experienced unwanted physical contact while conducting field research. And a much older study, published in 1986, noted that 31 percent of female graduate trainees in clinical psychology reported receiving sexual advances from at least one male teacher or supervisor; among those women, 71 percent viewed the advances as “coercive.” Several high-profile cases of sexual misconduct by prominent academic scientists have also come to light in recent years. At the University of California–Berkeley, astronomer Geoff Marcy resigned last year after the school found that he had violated sexual harassment policies repeatedly between 2001 and 2010. (Marcy apologized on his website.) In August, the University of Washington fired microbiologist Michael Katze after an investigator found that he had, among other things, created a quid pro quo sexual relationship with one employee and asked another to email escorts on his behalf. This fall, eight people filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the University of Rochester for failing to act appropriately against computational linguist T. Florian Jaeger and alleging that Jaeger engaged in a “long pattern of predatory sexual behavior.” Jaeger, who is on administrative leave pending the results of a new investigation, has noted that the fact that he’s been placed on leave does not constitute an admission of guilt.

Even as a first-year grad student in 2002, Vazire knew Heatherton was an academic star with considerable prestige and power. “I was still young enough to have very idealistic images of famous people in the field,” she says. By that time, Heatherton had published almost 60 peer-reviewed papers, and as the chairman of SPSP Convention Committee, he’d helped establish the group’s annual conference. After the 2001 SPSP meeting, Heatherton crowed to colleagues about its lively and stimulating atmosphere and the ample sales recorded at the cash bar.

Heatherton made his name by studying feelings of guilt and self-control and by helping to devise a model of willpower as a muscle that can be exercised until exhaustion. In particular, he has studied how people restrain themselves from engaging in undesirable behavior. “Is self-regulation failure a matter of lazy self-indulgence … or is it a matter of being overcome by powerful, unstoppable forces?” he asked in a 1996 review of this research. He and his co-author ended that paper with a gloomy observation: “The norms and forces that currently dominate modern Western culture seem generally conducive to weakening self-control,” they wrote. “As long as this is the case, it seems likely that our society will continue to suffer from widespread and even epidemic problems that have self-regulatory failure as a common core.”

Not long before his run-in with Vazire, Heatherton had co-written a book chapter with his graduate student Jennifer Tickle and colleague Mikki Hebl on the psychology of awkward moments. “Awkward moments have far-reaching consequences in the lives of both stigmatized and nonstigmatized individuals,” they wrote.

Starting in the early 2000s, Heatherton ventured into a booming subfield in his discipline, based around the use of magnetic-resonance imaging to capture changing blood flow in the brain. At Dartmouth, he became a leading member of a research group that applied this technique, fMRI, to the study of social psychology. In theory, he could now identify portions of the brain that would “activate” in response to temptation, guilt, awkwardness, or whatever else one might choose to study. On the basis of this research, the exercise of self-control would be construed, in his later work, as a struggle between rival brain areas.

Dartmouth made a huge investment in fMRI technology in September 1999, opening a four-story, $27 million building devoted to the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, or PBS. Dartmouth was the first liberal arts school in the country to have its own scanner dedicated to experimental brain research. A few years later, PBS helped bring in the largest peer-reviewed grant in the history of the institution: $21.8 million to establish a Center for Cognitive and Educational Neuroscience.

PBS was a major power center on campus. By 2002, its most famous member—Michael Gazzaniga, the father of cognitive neuroscience—was serving as the dean of faculty at Dartmouth, having replaced another neuroscientist, Jamshed Bharucha, in that position.* Heatherton served as chair of the department in 2004 and 2005, and he worked closely with Gazzaniga, co-authoring a leading academic textbook, Psychological Science, in 2003. Kelley was recruited to the department in 2000; he and Heatherton became friends and regular scientific collaborators. Whalen arrived at PBS in 2005.

As the department’s influence grew, tensions developed at the college. A report from the Student Assembly, based on input from 800 students and 30 faculty members and titled “The Soul of Dartmouth,” decried the school’s excessive focus on research, singling out PBS for special blame.

The department also had a reputation for rambunctiousness. Over the last week, I’ve reached out to dozens of current and former faculty members, postdocs, graduate students, research technicians, and lab fellows who spent time at PBS during this period or passed through for talks or summer sessions. Many ignored my requests or declined to be interviewed. Most of those who agreed to share their experiences would only do so on condition that their names would not be mentioned in connection with this story. But their stories generally converged on several major points. The culture at PBS was characterized by heavy drinking, multiple sources said, as well as an unusual degree of socializing between faculty and students. Several described a “good old boys” vibe that could be inhospitable to women. An undergraduate who worked in a PBS lab from 2002 to 2004 said “the culture of the department was always very masculine and competitive.”

Elise Temple, who was an assistant professor of education at Dartmouth from 2007 to 2010, with a joint appointment in the PBS department, said that Whalen and Kelley were very popular with graduate students and often partied with them. They would stay out late, Temple said, and encourage everyone to drink. “There was this juvenile attitude that was clearly just not professional,” explained Temple, who now directs the Consumer Neuroscience Group at the company Nielsen. “I remember, [the atmosphere] was like, ‘No, have another drink! Oh, come on, have another drink!’ Like a frat guy kind of thing.”

Temple acknowledged that it’s common for graduate students and faculty to have drinks together from time to time. But she said there was more of this behavior—drinking and socializing among mentors and trainees—at PBS than she’d seen at other institutions.

One member of the faculty from the early 2000s did tell me there wasn’t an unusual degree of partying, and a graduate student who arrived a few years later said the culture was “positive and professional.” Most accounts I heard, though, were more or less consistent with Temple’s. One former student called the level of alcohol use “pretty shocking” and described it as being “like night and day” compared with other psychology departments. People went out drinking after work as a matter of routine, this student claimed, and stayed out very late. A former graduate student at PBS said “partying” might be too strong a word but that there was “a lot of drinking with the professors.” Students made frequent trips to a local restaurant called India Queen after work, the graduate student said, and Kelley would be there “more often than not.”

Multiple sources said Heatherton was less involved in the program’s drinking culture than Kelley and Whalen. Via email, Heatherton said he didn’t think it was accurate to say the PBS department was characterized by heavy drinking or frequent socializing between graduate students and faculty. “I do my best not to socialize with graduate students outside of the work setting, as the mentoring relationship should remain professional,” he wrote, noting that his “main social contact” with graduate students occurs on the annual “Apple Pie Day” he hosts with his wife. He added: “Self-reflection has caused me to recognize that, on occasion, at conferences with other academicians I have consumed too much alcohol. On this I was not alone, but that is no excuse, and I have apologized for my behavior.”

In the mid-2000s, three of the department’s most promising young female professors—Abigail Baird, Jennifer Groh, and Jennifer Richeson—departed for other schools. Richeson would earn a MacArthur “genius” grant the year after leaving; Baird was named a “Rising Star in Psychological Science” in 2008; and Groh received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2009. They now direct labs at Yale, Vassar, and Duke, respectively. Another more senior woman at Dartmouth, Laura-Ann Petitto, also left during this period. (None of these professors agreed to comment for this story.) By January 2007, the PBS website included just three women on its list of 16 faculty members. (The PBS website now lists eight women out of 28 faculty members.)

Heatherton notes that it’s not unusual for professors to switch institutions, adding that five male professors also left the department around the same time. One of those was Gazzaniga, who resigned his position as dean after a vote of no confidence from the Dartmouth faculty and then left for the University of California–Santa Barbara. Scott Grafton followed him to Santa Barbara shortly thereafter. A third departing scholar, Kevin Dunbar, was the partner of one of the women who left Dartmouth, Laura-Ann Petitto.

Since then, both Kelley and Whalen have been awarded tenure. Heatherton served as president of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in 2011. Under his direction, the society created a “Responsible Research Task Force” to “discuss the promotion of responsible conduct in social and personality psychology.” In 2016, Dartblog called Heatherton “one of the most respected researchers at the college.”

*Correction, Nov. 14, 2017: This piece originally misidentified Jamshed Bharucha as a former provost of Dartmouth. He served as deputy provost and as dean of faculty. (Return.)

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Baby Bargains

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How Interesting Does Science Have to Be for the Public to Fund It?

How Interesting Does Science Have to Be for the Public to Fund It?

by Neel V. Patel @ Slate Articles

If you’ve read the phrase alien megastructures over the past few years, you probably have Tabetha Boyajian to thank. The Louisiana State University–based astronomer has been the driving force behind investigating the mysteries of KIC 8462852, a little star 1,280 light-years away whose incredibly bizarre behavior has flummoxed scientists since October 2015. Boyajian and her colleagues worked furiously to figure out why observations of KIC 8462852 (affectionately called Tabby’s Star, after Boyajian), first made with NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, showed the star was exhibiting insanely rapid, irregular dips in brightness.

Why was KIC 8462852 acting this way? Scientists didn’t know. It couldn’t be explained by conventional causes, like orbiting planets. Aliens were one theory, because of course they were. At some point, the theory that the dips might be caused by gigantic infrastructures built by an intelligent alien civilization started circulating. And from there alien megastructures really took off.

As the news spread, Boyajian took the unorthodox step of launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund new observations of the star, raising more than $100,000 from more than 1,700 online donors to reserve time to study KIC 8462852 with instruments operated by Las Cumbres Observatory.

Unfortunately, a new study published in Astrophysical Journal Letters put the alien megastructures dreams to rest. Whatever is causing Tabby’s Star to randomly dim like a lightbulb on the fritz has nothing to do with alien megastructures. In fact, it looks like the culprit is probably dust—maybe from the remnants of a nearby planet or moon, or from another source. Questions remain, and Boyajian and her team are anxious to learn more, but we can at least say for certain: Gigantic alien infrastructure is not at play here.

This revelation is a bit of a bummer, of course. And the crowdfunded nature of the project adds its own strange dimension to what happens next when it comes to investigating Tabby’s Star. Indeed, it raises interesting questions about how scientific investigations are supposed to proceed if they rely on public funding.

There are very clear advantages to crowdfunding scientific investigations. Sometimes it proves to be a useful way to raise money fast without trudging through the bureaucratic process that slows down traditional avenues. It can also bring the scientific and nonscientific communities closer and foster better communication and partnerships.

But the general public isn’t known for its patient foresight. People like bombastic spectacles; sexy, viral news; Boaty McBoatface. It’s hard to remember that an investigation into an obscure molecule could lead to a groundbreaking treatment for cancer two decades later, or how climate change is going to doom us all later this century. The pace of science and the pace of news are fundamentally at odds with each other.

Scientists, however, have to remember those things. So do the agencies that normally decide which projects deserve money. And perhaps more importantly, traditional institutions also have a healthy respect for the disappointment and surprise that permeates through research. When a hypothesis is disproven or something unexpected arises from the experiment, scientists don’t see failure; they see progress, just in a direction they hadn’t predicted before. Those results are still essential in filling gaps of knowledge, and they may prove useful later on.

Would Boyajian have really raised so much money if KIC 8462852 hadn’t generated so much hype about intelligent extraterrestrials? Both Boyajian and her colleague Jason Wright, an astronomer at Penn State University and co-author of the new study, and practically every other scientist studying the star made it adamantly clear the chances alien megastructures were orbiting the star were extremely small.

“I would be mortified if any one of the contributors thought that they were tricked into supporting the project because of E.T.,” Boyajian told Slate. “We worked very hard on clearly describing our intent to collect data to be used in testing any hypothesis.”

But one can’t help but suspect that many donors shelled out the cash for this project specifically in the hopes that the observations would prove the existence of aliens. People get hyped up about aliens, understandably—extraterrestrials are a serious part of space research these days. But it’s probably safe to say 1,700 people didn’t donate money in hopes of finding dust.

How can scientists keep their crowds interested after the crowdfunding? The key might be transparency. “I think the success of this project is a good template for others doing high-profile research to follow,” Wright told me. “Especially important has been the way that Tabby and her team have appreciated the backers, kept them involved, given them everything that was promised, and acknowledged their support.” He credits that work as the reason why some donors have already asked how they can contribute to follow-up studies, despite the dust finding.

Boyajian “absolutely” intends to pursue follow-up observations of KIC 8462852, but she isn’t sure whether many of the same contributors to the first Kickstarter campaign would come back in light of the fact that aliens have been ruled out. Can you raise $100,000 to study cosmic dust? Maybe. Boyajian’s challenge will be to market that investigation in a way that replicates the excitement of alien megastructures. That’s not a case that one would have to make to a panel of experts more familiar with and sensitive to the intricacies of scientific research.

Dream On Me Recalls Crib & Toddler Bed Mattresses Due to Violation of Federal Mattress Flammability Standard

Dream On Me Recalls Crib & Toddler Bed Mattresses Due to Violation of Federal Mattress Flammability Standard


U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

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Organic Mattresses and All Natural Mattress Pads


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The New Documentary Heal Makes Important Points About Staying Positive

The New Documentary Heal Makes Important Points About Staying Positive

by Marc Siegel @ Slate Articles

Several years ago, I had a patient named Howard. Howard had a muscle-wasting disease that confined him to a wheelchair, a wife who was severely ill, and a growing anger and outrage that he wasn’t able to pay for comfort care for either of them. The sicker Howard and his wife became, the angrier he was, until one day he expressed homicidal rage toward a lawyer he used to work for who owed him money. I called in two different psychiatrists to assess Howard—both dismissed the homicidal plan as pure fantasy, since it involved rising out of the wheelchair.

Less than a month later, Howard asked a friend to drive him to the lawyer’s office in Brooklyn. When he reached the office, he rose out of the wheelchair and shot him with a gun he had brought. Luckily, he only had the strength to lift his arm high enough to shoot the lawyer in the leg, and he survived. I wrote a letter to the court that Howard wasn’t fit to serve a prison sentence, and he received a compassionate release.

I told this story in my book The Inner Pulse, Unlocking the Secret Code of Sickness and Health. As I was writing the chapter about Howard’s mind-over-matter moment, I discovered a physical explanation that I hadn’t previously considered. In late 2007, a tiger jumped 12 feet to escape its pit in the San Francisco Zoo. In searching for an explanation for this unprecedented event, I discovered that the thigh muscles are the most powerful muscles in the body but are under the most inhibitory control by the brain. A sudden strong emotion, such as fear or rage, can be enough to overcome this inhibition causing a sudden muscular release and may explain the striking exertion both Howard and the tiger were able to achieve. This doesn’t take away from how powerful and unusual both events were, but it does help to explain them.

The human body has both spiritual and physical components—when processing health and disease, there is rarely one without the other. A new spiritual documentary by Kelly Noonan Gores, Heal, attempts to dissect the ways in which spiritual healing matters to physical healing, and it does a good job detailing alternative approaches to healing. As a physician, I understand the nocebo notion that stress and negative emotions may lead to disease, or affect disease outcomes in a negative way. It is also true, as the film suggests, that too often Western medicine practitioners treat the body as a machine and throw pills at a problem without fully considering how these pills impact body chemistry or cause effects that may be worse than the original problem. (I recall a patient for whom I once prescribed an antidepressant, who told me he was more depressed by the constipation the medicine caused than by his original problem.)

The problem, though, is that Heal spends hardly any time exploring the scientific underpinnings of the miraculous cures it highlights, or why they frequently fail for others. As the movie progresses, a more overriding theme takes over: It isn’t just relieving stress that’s at stake here, it’s the power of divine intervention. The film presents both a self-appointed “divine conduit,” as well as the healing power of different kinds of meditation. Deepak Chopra himself discusses the broad applications of meditation in the movie (he was also present at the screening in New York that I attended).

This is where Heal really goes too far. One of the film’s patients is told he will never walk again without major back surgery and metal rods but manages to overcome his spine fractures through visualizing the problem combined with exercises. Another patient shrinks her lymphoma by envisioning the war in her bloodstream and the cancer losing the battle with her chemical treatment. When her lymphoma disappears, the implication is that her mind power is even more responsible than her chemotherapy. These stories are presented as mainstream when they are in fact rare outliers.

To be fair, Heal does not suggest that overcoming fear or “changing emotional state to a state of gratitude” should take the place of standard treatments like chemotherapy or the personalized immunotherapies of the near future, but rather that replacing toxic thoughts and stress hormones with so-called tonic neurochemicals including oxytocin and serotonin can only help your chances and bolster your immune system.

I spoke to the thoughtful filmmaker, Kelly Noonan Gores, right before the screening, and she said that if someone buys into a negative program or limited expectation “they are more likely to meet that fate.” I studied the long-term impact of fear on health in my book False Alarm, the Truth About the Epidemic of Fear. I do agree with Noonan Gores that the “chemistry of fear” can hasten disease—there is evidence to back that up. Heal is also profoundly right when it suggests that too often illness leads to a state of powerlessness, a desire to not be a burden, as well as a sense of guilt.

In many ways, the film’s points are valid. But what about those who try to overcome cancer or disabilities by the power of concentration or herbal treatments or positive spiritual thinking—and fail? Isn’t it cruel to give people false hope? And what, exactly, does it mean to take control of your illness? Surely it means more than trying to will your cancer away or channel your inner rage. Avoiding negative emotions is one thing, but the problem with false promises is that they can cause harm, too. If you believe too much in the power of positivity, you may find yourself woefully disappointed by life, which can make no such promises.

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DaVinci Twilight Crib Mattress Review

DaVinci Twilight Crib Mattress Review


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Humans Run Experiments, a Robot Writes the Paper

Humans Run Experiments, a Robot Writes the Paper

by Daniel Engber @ Slate Articles

In 2014, a researcher in France revealed a disturbing fact about the published scientific literature: At least 120 computer-generated manuscripts had made their way into academic conference proceedings, according to his analysis. Those robot-written papers, containing little more than strung-together buzzwords, had been created with a piece of software known as SCIgen, originally written on a lark by a trio of MIT graduate students in 2005. But in the years since, it seemed scientists had repurposed SCIgen to puff up their resumes and boost their professional status. This was understood to be a major scandal.

For Klemen Zupancic, though, the scandal was a source of inspiration. “It got us thinking,” the 32-year-old molecular biologist and tech entrepreneur told me this week from his office in Slovenia. Zupancic is head of sciNote, a tech startup that builds tools for helping scientists to switch from using pen-and-paper laboratory notebooks to more efficient online apps. (The company claims to have about 20,000 users, of which almost half are in the U.S.) When he read about the infiltration of academic journals by robo-generated text, he realized that the same approach might be used for honest ends. If software can publish scientific gobbledygook, then maybe it can write a valid scientific paper, too. So his company set out to create a program that would do just that.

The result of this effort, called Manuscript Writer, came out in early November. It works by searching through a sciNote user’s references, data, and protocols, and then stringing bits and pieces end-to-end in a rough draft of a formal academic paper. I mean a very rough draft: The software doesn’t even try to write a discussion section or interpret an experiment’s results; and based on what I’ve seen, the rest isn’t that much better than what you’d get from using SCIgen. Manuscript Writer constructs an introduction, for example, by pulling sentences and sentence fragments from a set of open-access references and laying them out in what appears to be no particular order.

The sciNote system is likely to improve, though. In theory, its A.I. will learn from its mistakes by comparing users’ finished papers to the software’s first attempts. Given what we’ve already seen in automated journalism, it’s not so crazy to predict that the quality of science paper robo-prose will soon become much better than it is today. Perhaps we’ll even reach the point where it’s about as good (or about as bad) as the work of average human scientists.

Indeed, we should all be looking forward to that day. Humans may be essential when it comes to formulating theories to explain results, but the rest of scientific writing—from a paper’s introduction through its description of experiments, methods, and results—would likely benefit from automation.

It’s not as though the quality of academic prose could end up that much worse than it is today. In fact, leading scientists have long bemoaned the lousy writing of their peers: In 1908, for example, Francis Galton presented his “Suggestions for Improving the Literary Style of Scientific Memoirs” to the Royal Society of Literature. “I have had occasion to read many memoirs in manuscript, on subjects where I was fairly at home, in which there was nothing especially recondite,” he wrote then, “but the expressions used in them were so obscure, the grammar so bad, and the arrangement so faulty, that they were scarcely intelligible on a first reading. … The writers of them may have been, and probably were successful investigators, but their powers of literary exposition were of a sadly low order; so low that they could hardly be made to realize their deficiencies.”

Things have only gotten worse since Galton’s gripe. When scientists settled on a lingua franca for their work, it meant that researchers around the world would have to write in English regardless of their skill at using it. At the same time, the growth of the scientific enterprise after World War II, and its balkanization into increasingly specialized sub-disciplines made research articles more technical and formalized. Around the mid-20th century, a dreary template for their writings began to spread throughout the sciences: First an Introduction, followed by the Methods used for the experiment, then a resume of the Results and a section for Discussion. By the 1970s, this “IMRaD” format was nearly universal in the literature.

As these changes solidified, scientific writing became less a vehicle for rhetoric than a conduit for data. Papers started to look more like packets on a network. If all those packets were the same—algorithmic in their composition, unembroidered, boring—that might only make them more efficient. In 1900, papers in Science and Nature were about as accessible to a general audience as pieces in the New York Times, according to a lexical analysis cited in a 2003 feature in Nature by Jonathan Knight. But their readability steadily eroded—and their jargon thickened—as the years went by.

“We are now in a system that incentivizes sameness,” says Melinda Baldwin, author of Making Nature: The History of a Scientific Journal. “We’re in a system that doesn’t give people incentive to write beautiful scientific papers.” Individual researchers now feel pressure to produce a large quantity of publications, with less regard for style. The most important thing for them is to distribute their results as quickly, and as clearly, as they can.

Even now, scientists who aren’t comfortable in English, or who just want to save some energy, may outsource the writing of their manuscripts to paid professionals. Automated writing would be an even better fix for those with suspect language skills or busy schedules. With robo-writers at the keyboard every article might end up looking more or less the same; but that’s a good thing. Distracting differences in scholars’ backgrounds, or defects in their style, would be averaged out across the literature. Each of Galton’s literary bugaboos—obscure expressions, poor grammar, and the faulty arrangements of ideas—could be instantly deleted from the literature, or patched over in a set of updates to the paper-writing software.

Naturally, this flattening effect would also average out any charm or wit. Take, for example, one of the most famous scientific articles ever published: Francis Crick and James Watson’s 1953 announcement in Nature of the structure of DNA. Even as this paper laid out one of the most consequential discoveries in the history of biology, its authors allowed themselves just a single understated boast—one that has been celebrated for its wryness ever since: “It has not escaped our notice,” wrote Crick and Watson, “that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanisms for the genetic material.”

What if their paper had been written automatically by Klemen Zupancic’s software or something similar? We’d have been deprived of the duo’s all-time classic kicker. The article, “Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids,” would be as undistinguished in its writing, as insipid in its style, and as bereft of elegance as almost every other paper in the literature.

That could be a good thing, too.

If bad writing interferes with reading papers—if it slows down the sharing and transmission of experiments and data—then good writing does the opposite: It can make a paper slick and its logic slippery; it sands away the friction that helps readers get a handle on the findings it describes. According to FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, poor writing in a research paper makes it hard to spot mistakes—but good writing does the same. It’s easiest to find errors, he says, in “average” papers, where you’re not distracted by the prose.

Psychological experiments have supported to this idea. The more easily one can process any given statement, the more believable it seems, according to what’s been called the “fluency heuristic.” If that’s true, then poorly written papers would be disadvantaged—i.e. their findings deemed less true—even when the underlying science was completely sound. And papers written in an easygoing entertaining style could be taken as reliable, even when they’re based on insubstantial evidence. But if robots wrote our papers for us, we’d never have to worry that we’re victims of this bias. Every manuscript would be written in an average way: not too bad and not too good.

Awareness of this problem, and a corresponding fear of eloquence in scientific writing, has been present since the earliest days of academic periodicals. One of the first dedicated scientific journals appeared in 1665, published by the Royal Society of London. In a history of the society published two years later, Thomas Sprat boasted of the group’s “constant Resolution, to reject all the amplifications, digressions, and swellings of style. … They have extracted from all their members a close, naked, natural way of speaking; positive expressions; clear senses; a native easiness: bringing all thing as near the Mathematical plainness, as they can.”

Not every scientist subscribed to the fellows’ “constant Resolution,” though. While the Royal Society set off in one direction, valorizing plainness, other communities of scholars, at other points in history, were more inclined to fancy talk. Science communication scholar Alex Cziszar cites the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt: Like other proponents of romantic science, Humboldt argued that the “lucid exposition of the great phenomena of the universe” should be drawn from “the effusions of creative fancy.”

Cziszar says this tension over what it means to write a paper “well”—whether scientists should strive for clarity, beauty, efficiency or something else—has been present all along. From the late 19th century, many scientists have favored more succinct and uncreative prose. “A florid, roseate style, full of polysyllabic, metaphorical phraseology, distracts the reader's attention,” wrote two medical journal editors in a style guide from 1925. “Seldom is it necessary in scientific writing to use other than simple, Anglo-Saxon terms to express an idea or to state a fact.”

Indeed as research grows more data-focused, there’s an ever stronger case for dreary, formulaic prose. At this point we have at least 24 million references in the biomedical literature alone, and 15 million scientists are actively writing papers. There’s simply too much knowledge for any single person to absorb, even in a single subfield of research, and even if the work were always written very clearly. To get a better handle of this corpus, then, we’ll increasingly rely on another piece of software—not a robo-writer but a robo-reader. These exist already: Scientists are automating their investigations of the literature, with bots that sort through millions of abstracts at a time. It’s here that we might find the greatest benefit from algorithmic text. If machines were writing up the papers from the start, it’s likely that machines would do a better job of understanding them, too.

How much further could the robo-revolution go? Last year a group of researchers at the University of Trieste offered something new: the automated peer review. Inspired by the SCIgen prank, these scientists set out to build a tool for generating referee reports. The program will spit out a positive, negative or neutral assessment of any given paper, depending on which mode you request. “It would be good if you can also talk about the importance of establishing some good shared benchmarks,” the computer told one author. “It would be useful to identify key assumptions in the modeling,” it advised another. When the scientists showed their fake reviews, intermixed with real ones, to a group of human readers, the computer-generated text was deemed more useful one-quarter of the time.

Once robot referees have improved enough, they can peer review our robot-written papers. From there, the next step should be obvious: robot science journalists to robo-write surprising takes on the latest science news.

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What to Do if You Have the Flu

What to Do if You Have the Flu

by Dara Kass @ Slate Articles

Flu season is upon us, which means emergency departments all over the globe are dealing with an overwhelming number of patients with flu and flulike symptoms. In a bilateral attempt at self-interest and social good, we, your friendly emergency department doctors, would like to give you some advice on how to manage this time of year.

First up, and most important: It’s not too late to get the flu shot. Flu season lasts through April. Of the four strains in the flu shot, one of them is only 10 percent effective; the other three are more than 70 percent effective. That’s normal, and the shot is definitely worth getting. If you end up getting the flu anyway, the flu shot alters the course of the disease (in most cases) and makes it less nasty.

Another reason to get the flu shot is that lots of people (like cancer patients and transplant recipients) are at high risk during flu season. You don’t know who they are, but you could protect them by getting the shot. And if you do get sick, act like everyone is at risk. Stay home. Stay hydrated. Stay in bed. Use hand sanitizer. Sneeze into your elbow. You may save someone’s life.

What if you get really sick? We are always willing and able to see patients in the emergency department. That is our job. But you will likely have to wait. Some departments are seeing a two-hour wait for triage, then a wait for the doctor, a wait for the diagnosis, and a final wait to be discharged.

You’re going to be really annoyed, if after spending 12 hours waiting in the ER, we just say “you have the flu, go home.” But that’s all we’ll be able to say to you. Because we cannot cure the flu. It is a virus. We can try to make you feel better. But lots of the things we do for the flu, you can do at home. Flu care mostly consists of supportive measures like fluids and rest and over-the-counter medications.

Ibuprofen (like Motrin) usually makes people feel better than Tylenol. “Prescription strength" ibuprofen is 800 mg (four over-the-counter 200 mg tablets) taken every eight hours, and that’s the best thing to take, unless you have an ulcer. Take with food or milk or an antacid.

If you cannot hold anything down, we can give you IV fluids and anti-nausea medicine.

You may have heard of Tamiflu, the flu medicine. Tamiflu reduces symptoms by an average of one to one and a half days and can have side effects. It is also ineffective after 24 to 48 hours of symptom onset. We will give it to you if we think you really need it, but if we don’t give it, trust us that it’s because it’s not going to help you.

Do not request a Z-Pack. Antibiotics do not help a virus and risk giving you antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and you don’t want that.

You may have heard of other people receiving more interventions for the flu. It’s definitely possible. If you are younger than 3 months or older than 75, or immunocompromised in some way (cancer, autoimmune disease, advanced HIV/AIDS), you might get an X-ray, since you’re susceptible to complications. We promise you will get an X-ray if we think you need it.

If you have underlying lung disease, such as COPD or emphysema, you may get an X-ray and an antibiotic, because you’re at higher risk of getting bacterial pneumonia. Again, trust us, we’re doctors.

There are other ways to get help beyond an unsatisfying trip to the emergency department. Here are our best suggestions:

  1. Call your primary care doctor. Often your primary care doctor can offer advice over the phone or get you in her office. Give your doctor a chance to take care of you!
  2. Urgent care centers: Wait times are considerably less at urgent care centers than emergency departments, and they're usually able to estimate times over the phone. Many can administer all the treatments described above, even the IV fluids and X-rays.
  3. Telemedicine: Consider finding out if your insurance pays for telemedicine services. This is a perfect use of telemedicine, and you won’t be exposing anyone else to the flu.

To everyone reading this: Pay it forward. Instead of getting stuck with a bill for an emergency department visit you likely do not need, donate what would have been your co-pay to your favorite charity. We promise it will make you feel better than anything we can do for you in the ED.

Can You Use This Data Set to Find Serial Killers?

Can You Use This Data Set to Find Serial Killers?

by Andrew Gelman @ Slate Articles

We statisticians and social scientists are always trying to ensure that the data we collect or use are accurate, complete, and clean. We use data to estimate the effects of policies, and answering those questions requires data strong enough and clean enough to survive scrutiny. But data can also be used to ask questions, to look for interesting patterns, and one interesting thing about this type of endeavor is that it may not require the data to be quite as pristine.

This may explain part of why we were captivated by Alec Wilkinson’s recent New Yorker story on Thomas Hargrove, a retired reporter and current “homicide archivist” who “has the largest catalogue of killings in the country” that he analyses using an algorithm, “which he sometimes calls a serial-killer detector.” In his piece, Wilkinson recounts a story from 2010, when Hargrove uncovered a pattern of murders in Indiana that led to the discovery of a serial killer. Hargrove’s Murder Accountability Project is a fascinating example of citizen science that can help to motivate police departments to improve their work, and we applaud Hargrove’s efforts.

The story also inspired us to check out his data. Hargrove collected as much homicide data as was available online by downloading the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report data from 1976–2015. He then went the extra mile to obtain additional and (until then) generally unavailable data from Alabama, Florida, Illinois, and D.C. He used unknown offender sex as a proxy for unsolved case and grouped these cases by geographic area (county or metro area), weapon, and sex. Such cases are unfortunately not uncommon, especially if the victims are women. (There are also cases of multiple homicides of young men and unknown offenders, but data suggests that women are more likely to be targeted by serial killers.) Studying these individual groups, he found that he was able to find cases of suspected serial homicides, with young women as victims and unknown offenders, and this is what led to the discovery of the serial killer.

MAP makes its data and some computer code available to others who might be interested in examining it in their own communities. After checking it out, we have a few words of caution for those who might want to examine the data and use it themselves.

One problem is that the data MAP uses isn’t as clean as it could be. Their analysis implicitly assumes that if the SHR has no information on the offender’s sex, the offender is unknown. But this is incorrect: If a homicide is cleared after the SHR is filed, there is no way of updating that record, and it remains in the SHR file as uncleared. Moreover, some agencies do not provide information about offenders as a matter of policy; they may have been burned by defense attorneys who noted that their original description of the offender (including but not limited to offender sex) was incorrect. These and other problems with this data set are described in a report, “Bridging Gaps in Police Crime Data,” which one of us (Maltz) prepared for the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 1999.

Other anomalies became apparent in our first examinations of the MAP data. When looking at data, it helps to start with the area you’re most familiar with, so for us that meant examining the homicide data from Manhattan. In looking at this, we noticed that the New York Police Department does not separate out the crime data among the five counties that comprise New York City—all murders, regardless of where they happened, were logged in Manhattan. That’s certainly a problem if you’re trying to track murders by location.

But also, we noticed some other problems with their data. Here’s a figure that we obtained from the MAP website.


But here’s a figure that you get for New York County using SHR data (note: The SHR began in 1976, so it doesn’t go back as far as the earlier graph, which used UCR data):

The gray bars on the charts represent cases cleared—a crime is considered cleared if an arrest results or if the homicide is assumed successfully dealt with for other reasons. On the MAP version, from 2003–2012, it appears that there were zero homicide clearances in Manhattan. This seems unrealistic, and indeed, the second chart shows that this was not the case. What appears to have happened is that the NYPD simply did not report its clearance data to the FBI’s UCR program (but did to its SHR program) for that 10-year period; this is just one of the many reasons that clearance data can be unreliable.

So when the MAP website makes judgments about which states and regions are better or worse in clearing homicides, those judgments are based on similar possibly unreliable data.

This is not to detract from the accomplishments of the Murder Accountability Project. They were able to find a nugget when sifting through a stream of messy data, which we, who deal professionally with such data on a daily basis, applaud. But if you’re automatically sifting through data, you have to be concerned with data quality, with the relation between the numbers in your computer and the underlying reality they are supposed to represent. In this case, we’re concerned, given that we did not trawl through the visualizations looking for mistakes; rather, we found a problem in the very first place we looked.

Not all cases of incomplete reporting of clearances are going to be as easily discoverable as the one we found in New York City. If you’re planning to use this data set, be on the lookout for anomalies in reporting.

Breathable 6″ Full Size Firm Foam Crib and Toddler Bed Mattress

by Avish Dahiya @ Mattresses – Dream On Me

Dream On Me, Breathable 6 Inch Core Mattress is a 2 in 1 full size foam mattress that offers you the freedom of choice and is the answer to your babies comfort and support which includes a breathe flow technology. The hypoallergenic, antibacterial, CertiPUR-US certified layers mattress is covered with a breath-flow material on the […]

Why Good Sleep Matters So Much

by Lindsay S @ Choose Mattress

We humans spend about one-third of our lives asleep. This one-third greatly impacts the quality of the other two-thirds of our lives. Many things contribute to a good night’s rest, and your mattress lies at the foundation. According to WebMD, when it comes to sleep quality, “to get it right, you’ve got to start with the basics and your mattress is the first building block to a restful slumber.” After all, if you’re tossing and turning all night, struggling to get your body into a pain-free position, your sleep quality will be poor, and your wellness will suffer. The Importance

The post Why Good Sleep Matters So Much appeared first on Choose Mattress.

Oprah Winfrey Helped Create Our American Fantasyland

Oprah Winfrey Helped Create Our American Fantasyland

by Kurt Andersen @ Slate Articles

Adapted from Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History copyright © 2017 by Kurt Andersen. With permission from the publisher, Random House. All rights reserved.

Forty-eight hours ago, after watching Oprah Winfrey give a terrific, rousing feminist speech on an awards show, millions of Americans instantly, giddily decided that the ideal 2020 Democratic nominee had appeared. An extremely rich and famous and exciting star and impresario—but one who seems intelligent and wise and kind, the non–Bizarro World version of the sitting president.

Some wet-blanketing followed immediately, among the best from the New York Times Magazine writer Thomas Chatterton Williams in an op-ed headlined “Oprah, Don’t Do It.” “It would be a devastating, self-inflicted wound for the Democrats to settle for even benevolent mimicry of Mr. Trump’s hallucinatory circus act,” he wrote. “Indeed, the magical thinking fueling the idea of Oprah in 2020 is a worrisome sign about the state of the Democratic Party.”

Despite the “magical thinking” reference, neither Williams nor other skeptics have seriously addressed the big qualm I have about the prospect of a President Winfrey: Perhaps more than any other single American, she is responsible for giving national platforms and legitimacy to all sorts of magical thinking, from pseudoscientific to purely mystical, fantasies about extraterrestrials, paranormal experience, satanic cults, and more. The various fantasies she has promoted on all her media platforms—her daily TV show with its 12 million devoted viewers, her magazine, her website, her cable channel—aren’t as dangerous as Donald Trump’s mainstreaming of false conspiracy theories, but for three decades she has had a major role in encouraging Americans to abandon reason and science in favor of the wishful and imaginary.

Oprah went on the air nationally in the 1980s, just as non-Christian faith healing and channeling the spirits of the dead and “harmonic convergence” and alternative medicine and all the rest of the New Age movement had scaled up. By the 1990s, there was a big, respectable, glamorous New Age counterestablishment. Marianne Williamson, one of the new superstar New Age preachers, popularized a “channeled” book of spiritual revelation, A Course in Miracles: The author, a Columbia University psychology professor who was anonymous until after her death in the 1980s, had claimed that its 1,333 pages were dictated to her by Jesus. Her basic idea was that physical existence is a collective illusion—”the dream.” Endorsed by Williamson, the book became a gigantic best-seller. Deepak Chopra had been a distinguished endocrinologist before he quit regular medicine in his 30s to become the “physician to the gods” in the Transcendental Meditation organization and in 1989 hung out his own shingle as wise man, author, lecturer, and marketer of dietary supplements.

Out of its various threads, the philosophy now had its basic doctrines in place: Rationalism is mostly wrongheaded, mystical feelings should override scientific understandings, reality is an illusion one can remake to suit oneself. The 1960s countercultural relativism out of which all that flowed originated mainly as a means of fighting the Man, unmasking the oppressive charlatans-in-charge. But now they had become mind-blowing ways to make yourself happy and successful by becoming the charlatan-in-charge of your own little piece of the universe. “It’s not just the interpretation of objective reality that is subjective,” according to Chopra. “Objective reality per se is a concept of reality we have created subjectively.”

Exactly how had Chopra and Williamson become so conspicuous and influential? They were anointed in 1992 and 1993 by Oprah Winfrey.

As I say, she is an ecumenical promoter of fantasies. Remember the satanic panic, the mass hysteria during the 1980s and early ’90s about satanists abusing and murdering children that resulted in the wrongful convictions of dozens of people who collectively spent hundreds of years incarcerated? Multiple Oprah episodes featured the celebrity “victims” who got that fantasy going. When a Christian questioner in her audience once described her as New Age, Winfrey was pissed. “I am not ‘New Age’ anything,” she said, “and I resent being called that. I don’t see spirits in the trees, and I don’t sit in the room with crystals.” Maybe not those two things specifically; she’s the respectable promoter of New Age belief and practice and nostrums, a member of the elite and friend to presidents, five of whom have appeared on her shows. New Age, Oprah-style, shares with American Christianities their special mixtures of superstition, selfishness, and a refusal to believe in the random. “Nothing about my life is lucky,” she has said. “Nothing. A lot of grace. A lot of blessings. A lot of divine order. But I don’t believe in luck.”

Most of the best-known prophets and denominational leaders in the New Age realm owe their careers to Winfrey. Her man Eckhart Tolle, for instance, whose books The Power of Now and A New Earth sold millions of copies apiece, is a successful crusader against reason itself. “Thinking has become a disease,” he writes, to be supplanted by feeling “the inner energy field of your body.” The two of them conducted a series of web-based video seminars in 2008.

New Age, because it’s so American, so utterly democratic and decentralized, has multiple sacred texts. One of the most widely read and influential is Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, emphatically placed in the canon by Winfrey as soon as it was published a decade ago. “I’ve been talking about this for years on my show,” Winfrey said during one of the author’s multiple appearances on Oprah. “I just never called it The Secret.”

The Secret takes the American fundamentals, individualism and supernaturalism and belief in belief, and strips away the middlemen and most of the pious packaging—God, Jesus, virtue, hard work rewarded, perfect bliss only in the afterlife. What’s left is a “law of attraction,” and if you just crave anything hard enough, it will become yours. Belief is all. The Secret’s extreme version of magical thinking goes far beyond its predecessors’. It is staggering. A parody would be almost impossible. It was No. 1 on the Times’s nonfiction list for three years and sold about 20 million copies.

“There isn’t a single thing that you cannot do with this knowledge,” the book promises. “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, The Secret can give you whatever you want.” Because it’s a scientific fact.

The law of attraction is a law of nature. It is as impartial as the law of gravity. Nothing can come into your experience unless you summon it through persistent thoughts. … In the moment you ask, and believe, and know you already have it in the unseen, the entire universe shifts to bring it into the scene. You must act, speak, and think, as though you are receiving it now. Why? The universe is a mirror, and the law of attraction is mirroring back to your dominant thoughts. … It takes no time for the universe to manifest what you want. Any time delay you experience is due to your delay in getting to the place of believing.

To be clear, Byrne’s talking mainly not about spiritual contentment but things, objects, lovers, cash. “The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money from coming to them with their thoughts. … It is not your job to work out ‘how’ the money will come to you. It is your job to ask. … Leave the details to the Universe on how it will bring it about.” She warns that rationalism can neutralize the magic—in fact, awareness of the real world beyond one’s individual orbit can be problematic. “When I discovered The Secret, I made a decision that I would not watch the news or read newspapers anymore, because it did not make me feel good.”

Right around the time The Secret came out, habitués of its general vicinity started buzzing about the year 2012. Ancient Mesoamericans, people were saying, had predicted that in 2012—specifically, Dec. 21—humankind’s present existence would … transition, when the current 5,125-year-long period ends. New Age religion-makers, like American Protestants, now had their own ancient prophecy for their own dreams of something like a near-future Armageddon and supernaturally wonderful aftermath.

Winfrey ended the daily Oprah broadcasts in 2011, and a month before the final episode, she interviewed Shirley MacLaine for the millionth time and asked about 2012: “What’s gonna happen to us as a species?”

“We’re coming into an alignment,” MacLaine explained. “It is the first time in 26,000 years—36,000 years—26,000 years, I’m sorry, that this has occurred. … You have an alignment where this solar system is on direct alignment with the center of the galaxy. That carries with it a very profound electromagnetic frequency—”

“Vibration,” Winfrey interjected.

“… vibration,” MacLaine agreed, “and gravitational pull. Hence the weather. What does that do to consciousness? What does that do to our sense of reality?” It’s why people feel rushed and stressed, she said.

Winfrey asked her audience for an amen: “Are you all feeling that?” They were.

“So my stuff isn’t really that far out. But what’s actually happening, Oprah,” MacLaine continued, explaining how the relevant astrology proved the supernatural inflection point was exactly 620 days away. “It’s the end of that 26,000-year procession of the equinox” and “the threshold of a new beginning. And I think what this pressure, this kind of psychic, spiritual pressure we’re all feeling is about, is that your internal soul is telling you ‘Get your act together.’”

* * *

It’s one thing to try to experience more peace of mind or feel in sync with a divine order. Mixing magical thinking with medical science and physiology, however, can get problematic. A generation after its emergence as a thing hippies did, alternative medicine became ubiquitous and mainstream. As with so many of the phenomena I discuss in my book Fantasyland, it’s driven by nostalgia and anti-establishment mistrust of experts, has quasi-religious underpinnings, and comes in both happy and unhappy versions.

And has been brought to you by Oprah Winfrey.

In 2004, a very handsome heart surgeon, prominent but not famous, appeared on Oprah to promote a book about alternative medicine. His very name—Dr. Oz!—would be way too over-the-top for a character in a comic novel. After Harvard, Mehmet Oz earned both an M.D. and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania, then became a top practitioner and professor of heart surgery at Columbia University and director of its Cardiovascular Institute. Timing is everything—young Dr. Oz arrived at Columbia right after it set up its Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the 1990s.

Soon he was bringing an “energy healer” into his operating room, who placed her hands on patients as he performed surgery, and inviting a reporter to watch. According to Dr. Oz, who is married to a reiki master, such healers have the power to tune in to their scientifically undetectable “energies” and redirect them as necessary while he’s cutting open their hearts. When the New Yorker’s science reporter Michael Specter told Oz he knew of no evidence that reiki works, the doctor agreed—“if you are talking purely about data.” For people in his magical-thinking sphere, purely about data is a phrase like mainstream and establishment and rational and fact, meaning elitist, narrow, and blind to the disruptive truths. “Medicine is a very religious experience,” Oz told Specter, then added a kicker directly from the relativist 1960s: “I have my religion and you have yours.”

After that first appearance on Oprah, he proceeded to come on her show 61 more times, usually wearing surgical scrubs. In 2009, Winfrey’s company launched the daily Dr. Oz show, on which he pushes miracle elixirs, homeopathy, imaginary energies, and psychics who communicate with the dead. He regularly uses the words miracle and magic. A supplement extracted from tamarind “could be the magic ingredient that lets you lose weight without diet and exercise.” Green coffee beans—even though “you may think that magic is make-believe”—are actually a “magic weight-loss cure,” a “miracle pill [that] can burn fat fast. This is very exciting. And it’s breaking news.” For a study in the British medical journal BMJ, a team of experienced evidence reviewers analyzed Dr. Oz’s on-air advice—80 randomly chosen recommendations from 2013. The investigators found legitimate supporting evidence for fewer than half. The most famous physician in the United States, the man Oprah Winfrey branded as “America’s doctor,” is a dispenser of make-believe.

Oz has encouraged viewers to believe that vaccines cause autism and other illnesses—as did Winfrey on her show before him. In 2007, long after the fraudulent 1998 paper that launched the anti-vaccine movement had been discredited, she gave an Oprah episode over to the actress Jenny McCarthy, a public face of the movement. That was where McCarthy gave the perfect defense of her credentials: “The University of Google is where I got my degree from!”

If Ronald Reagan became the first king of his magical-thinking realm in the 1980s, Oprah Winfrey became the first queen of hers in the following decade. Like Reagan, I believe she’s both sincere and a brilliant Barnumesque promoter of a dream world.

Discussing my book a couple of months ago on Sam Harris’ podcast Waking Up, I was arguing that the realm of Fantasyland is, when it comes to politics, highly asymmetrical—the American right much more than the left has given itself over to belief in the untrue and disbelief in the true, a fact of which President Donald Trump is a stark embodiment.

“Who would be, and could there be,” I asked Harris, “a Trump of the left that people on the left would, against their better judgment say ‘She’s a kook, and she’s terrible in this way, but she believes in socialized medicine, and this, and that—I’m going with her.’ To what degree and under what circumstances could that happen? It’s hard to imagine the equivalent, but I’m willing to accept that we might have to make those choices eventually.”

Such as who, Harris asked. Well, I replied, “people talk very seriously about Oprah Winfrey being a potential Democratic nominee for president. Is that my Trump moment, [like] what honest Republicans had to do with Donald Trump, and decide ‘No, I can’t abide this’ and became Never Trumpers? Would I be a Never Oprah person? That will be a test for me.”

I’ve been encouraged these past three days by the “whoa, Oprah” reactions among some liberals—as I was by the Republican resistance to Trump during the first six or nine months of his candidacy. When she starts polling ahead of all the mere politicians seeking the Democratic nomination, let alone winning primaries, we’ll see how stalwart the reality-based, anti-celebrity, naysaying faction remains.

Choosing an Organic Kids Mattress

by Jane Sheppard @ Healthy Child

  One of the most important decisions a parent can make is choosing an organic kids mattress. Sleep is critical to your child’s health and well-being, and since kids spend more than one third of their lives in direct exposure to their mattress materials it’s crucial to their health that those mattress materials be safe, …Read More

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Black Friday 2017 Baby Gear Deals Round-up!

by Denise & Alan Fields @ Baby Bargains

Black Friday 2017 Baby Gear Deals Round-up! Black Friday 2017 Baby Gear Deals Round-up! We’ve been busy posting deals to our Facebook and Twitter feeds today—here’s a round-up of what we’ve seen so far! • WOW! $4.29 for our top rated crib sheet: Pinzon 300 Thread Count Percale Fitted Crib Sheet, Ivory. Down from $11. • Lowest price […]

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Best Crib Mattresses of 2018

Best Crib Mattresses of 2018


Mommyhood101: Your Source for Everything Baby!

Baby product reviews, pediatric science articles, help for common ailments. Your source for everything baby!

Breathable 5″ Foam Crib and Toddler Bed Standard Mattress

by Avish Dahiya @ Products – Dream On Me

Dream On Me, Two-Sided 5″, mattress introduce a breathe flow technology. Our mattress is designed to fit standard full size cribs it features supreme comfort ,hypo-allergenic, CertiPUR-US certified layer for comfort these mattress are covered with a breathe -flow material on the infant side and a waterproof cover on the toddler side with lock stitch […]

The Best Crib Mattresses

The Best Crib Mattresses


Wirecutter: Reviews for the Real World

We tested 12 crib mattresses and found that the Moonlight Slumber Little Dreamer is the best for most families.

How to buy a crib mattress | BabyCenter

How to buy a crib mattress | BabyCenter


BabyCenter

Organic? Foam? Innerspring? Get up to speed on your mattress options and how to choose the best mattress for your baby.

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