The same way that evolutionary psychology (or at least, bad reporting on evolutionary research) often conveniently reinforces sexist stereotypes about the role of men and women in the 21st society, genetic explanations for alcoholism tend to reinforce preexisting stereotypes about certain ethnic groups and races
With its intrigue, espionage, thousands of inappropriate emails, and shirtless pics, the coverage of this sex scandal has everything. And by “everything,” I mean a depressing amount of retrograde sexism.
Some animals with behavior issues really respond to SSRIs, and while that's a whole other can of, uh, worms (worms with rudimentary pleasure centers!) – it turns out some animals really like to trip. West African elephants regularly eat the bark of the iboga tree, which has been used by people in the region as a sacred drug: “It's not a fun, pleasant, trippy high. It's inward turning.” Siberian reindeer have also been observed to eat psychedelic mushrooms(http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/851202-reindeer-regularly-eat-magic-mushrooms-in-the-wild-research-finds) (leading to some almost certainly incorrect, but interesting speculation that these reindeer are the origin of the Santa Claus myth (http://www.geog.ucsb.edu/events/department-news/968/is-santa-the-personification-of-a-psychedelic-mushroom/)). In both cases, animals behave oddly when they eat the drugs, separating themselves from the herd, twitching, making strange noises – but they do use them again. “There seems to be some drive in us and in critters to alter our perception,” Linden said.
Fascinating as that is, how is it relevant to social justice? First, Linden argues, observing animal behavior – and how basic the drive for pleasure can be – can give us a better understanding of the science of addiction. He noted that while just 25 percent of people who try heroin become addicted, 80 percent of people who try cigarettes become addicted – and the reason for that difference is that the drugs activate the pleasure centers in different ways. A single dose of heroin provides an enormous flood of dopamine, where cigarettes provide tiny, rationed neural rewards to the user. “It's like if you were training a dog, and wanted to reward him with a big steak, versus if you cut the steak up into bits and treat him throughout the day,” Linden said. Most of us respond better to the tiny doses, and that's why cigarettes are actually harder to quit.
The research also tells us that addiction is highly varied in the way it manifests: that's why, with, say, alcohol, some people can take it or leave it, and some people struggle with it their whole lives. “We are, all of us, subject to various subconscious drives and motivations. The kinds of cravings one person experiences aren't like what another person experiences,” Linden said. “If you understand the biology and medicine that makes sense is a disease model, and the only attitude that makes sense is one of compassion.”
Well, the attack ads are over, the convention floors have long been empty, and the event we've all been anticipating/dreading for what feels like our entire lives is finally upon us: It's Election Day!
To get you ready for your big day at the polls, we've put together some links on elections past, resources for voting in the presence, and info for the not-so-distant future. Now get out there and vote already!
How's Your News?, America's favorite (and only) newscast featuring a team of developmentally disabled reporters, has returned—and just in time for the 2012 presidential election! You may remember the team's previous 2004 documentary, which chronicled their time at the Democratic and Republican conventions, or seen their wonderful MTV series (executive produced by South Park's Trey Parker and Matt Stone). The gang is back from visiting the most recent political conventions, and their new film looks to be just as hilarious and awesome as their prior work.
If the "Women's Health and Safety Act," which defines pregnancy as beginning two weeks prior to conception, didn't freak you out four months ago, maybe this news will: On Thursday, Arizona Governor (and on-the-record Douchebag) Jan Brewer signed the bill. Stay douche-y, Brewer!