Macro-contraception:

Pollutants mature sperm prematurely:

“Hormone-like chemicals in food and pesticides may stop adult sperm fertilizing eggs, suggests a new study. Some think that the findings may partly explain falling fertility rates.

Scientists have long speculated that chemicals similar to female hormone oestrogen in food and pesticides could cut sperm counts. Most of the debate has centred on whether such compounds stunt the growing testicles in babies.

Now comes some of the first evidence that environmental oestrogens can stop sperm from adult men fertilizing eggs. Researchers at Kings College London have found that mouse sperm bathed in low levels of the chemicals mature too fast.”

Nature

Prozac Nation:

“The World Health Organisation predicts that depression will soon be the second largest public health problem. Has the world become more depressing, or has the pharmaceutical industry simply become better at marketing antidepressants? In the latest exclusive essay from the London Review of Books, Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen examines the new ‘epidemic’.”

The strength of the new biomedical psychiatry doesn’t come, therefore, from the discovery of organic causes, but from placebo-controlled trials in which the effects of molecules are measured and compared. These trials don’t tell us how the medication works, but only if it works, what works best, and on whom. Biomedical psychiatry is a form of rhetoric: it knows how to produce effects without knowing how to treat causes. Pignarre proposes calling it a ‘petite biologie’ to differentiate it from the larger biology that it mimics. When all is said and done, nothing distinguishes it from dynamic psychiatry and the various brands of psychotherapy, which also base themselves in the end on the effects (the changes) observed among patients. The only difference is that the rhetoric of the ‘petite biologie’ is incomparably more persuasive: how, faced with the accumulation of double-blind, randomised trials, could one possibly deny that antidepressants do indeed produce an effect?

The question is, however, on what? It’s a mistake to say they produce an effect on depression, as if the illness existed independently of antidepressants; depression is nothing other than that on which antidepressants act. The reason so many of us are depressed is not because depression is spreading, but because we’ve been persuaded that ‘depression’ exists and can be treated…

Guardian UK

Skinner bests Piaget and Freud:

Study ranks the top 20th century psychologists: “The rankings were based on the frequency of three variables: journal citation, introductory psychology textbook citation and survey response. Surveys were sent to 1,725 members of the American Psychological Society, asking them to list the top psychologists of the century.

Researchers also took into account whether the psychologists had a National Academy of Sciences membership, were elected as APA president or received the APA Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award, and whether their surname was used as an eponym.” American Psychological Association Monitor

Birthday shaped future

“Nineteenth-century farmers suffered very different fates, depending on which month they were born in, new research suggests.

Women born in northern Quebec in June left on average seven more grandchildren than those born in April. “That’s a huge effect,” says ecologist Virpi Lummaa of the University of Cambridge, UK.

The result suggests that the earliest stages of life affect future reproduction. Birthweight and early growth are known to have many affects on adult health, including the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and schizophrenia….

Nature